31 January 2012

calling all freezer recipes

I no longer have feet.
I'm 35 weeks pregnant today if you're counting up or have 35 days left if you're counting down.  I prefer counting up because 35 days is way too close to a month for my comfort.  There's still so much to do, like finishing up the dust ruffle and other nursery decor, finishing up the birth method class, finishing a crucial part of my thesis work.  It's all about finishing things up before I lose the time and motivation to do anything anymore.  I've come to the realization that we're going to have to eat at some point and going to McDonalds every day isn't my favorite option I've ever heard.  In order to keep up with a baby, my thesis work, and being a human being, I've decided that we need to make a big freezer stash so we can just eat instead of cook.

So far, my thoughts have revolved around chili, lasagna, and quiche.  I turned to Pinterest to see if there were any good freezer posts and there were a few, but I'd love more suggestions.  So please, share away and tell me about all of your favorite freezer-to-table recipes I can make before I become incapacitated with baby!

27 January 2012

My annual letter to Colby

Dear Colby,

I want these for my birthday:
I'm size 37.  And the bonus part?  If you order them before next Tuesday, they're 50% off.  Also, I kind of want this too:

In green and definitely with the Boston Terrier design.

And while we're at it, I want this rug from Pottery Barn Kids for the nursery.

I mean, it's not even for ME and it's MY birthday.  I'm being completely selfless here, so you basically have to get this for me.



24 January 2012

Nursery Preview

I think I've begun the nesting process.  My assumption was that I was going to begin cooking up a storm a week before I gave birth, but I think my nesting urges have been funneled into decorating.  We've inherited a rocking chair, toy chest, and dresser, but not all of these are in the condition that I want for the room, so we've been working on redecorating.  I'm not exactly sure why this is happening.  If you've ever seen my house, it's rather... plain.

One of the biggest things I wanted to happen was to get the chair reupholstered.  This was the same chair that my parents rocked me in, so it's quite worn and dated:
hellloooo 1980s
Chair fabric

The toy chest (with loads of random crap on it) used to be bright green, but we painted it a flat chocolate brown.  I'm also have a cushion made for the top in pastel pink with light green polka dots.

Pictures of these pieces to come once they've been completed!

After playing around with the upholstery, I decided that I wanted a curtain valance (since we already have blinds) and a dust ruffle for the crib.  I like the idea of hand-made, but purchasing these things on Etsy requires one to first win the lottery, so I enlisted my friend Randi to help me make these.

Randi making the valance

Make the tall guy deal with the curtains

We're still working on the dust ruffle, but I'll have pictures of the entire room once it's complete.

23 January 2012

Steve's Backroom

I've mentioned Steve's Backroom here before, but I've never gotten around to posting about it.  I blame my laziness. :)  Over break, Colby and I went with my dad and his wife.  It's hard to do a review of a place that you love so much, so suffice it to say that it's one of the places that I HAVE to go to whenever I'm in the metro-Detroit area.  My favorites there are definitely the lamb grapeleaves, the hummus, and their baked apricots.

best. hummus. ever.

za'atar spice with olive oil


lamb+rice-stuffed cabbage leaves in tomato sauce

chicken schwarma plate

rice pudding

apricot pudding

22 January 2012

Make Up Menu

My menu for last week fell by the wayside as I managed to overestimate just how much chicken meat is needed to make a quesadilla as well as catch a stomach virus.  Wednesday and Thurday were pretty miserable and the only things I ate were applesauce and toast.  Needless to say, stir-fry and creamed spinach were off the menu at that point, but now I have ingredients from which to plan this week's menu.  Colby's going out of town from Tuesday til Thursday for the SPIE convention in San Francisco.  I'd be totally jealous because SF seems like a pretty rad town, but he's going to be standing around hawking his company for three days, so that's a lot less fun than exploring a city by cable car.  In light of this, here's this week's menu:

quiche: dinner for lazy people

beef, green bean, mushroom stir-fry

Chicken and forty cloves - by Colby's request and we have chicken thighs and a new resolve to make it this time.  Especially since we have some herbs that need to be used asap and this will help set up lunches for the rest of the week

Hopfields with the Austin Food Blogger Alliance - AFBA is having another social function and I'll be able to catch the first bit of it and eat dinner before I'm off to our birthing class.

spinach, bacon, cheddar crustless quiche - the easy, lazy, gestational diabetes-friendly way

spinach salad with whatever I find in my fridge

butternut squash soup and leftovers

16 January 2012

American Astronomical Society Meeting Food Adventures

Though I pledged to post weekly, I'd like to post more frequently than that.  My silence in the previous week or so was due to a convergence of many factors, mostly owing to the American Astronomical Society conference which occurred in Austin.  Initially, I wasn't even going to attend even though this meeting was held here in Austin, but one of my committee members (and the person who's paying me for most of the spring) encouraged me to attend.  I'm glad I did and I heard about a lot of kick ass projects going on in the astronomy community, but my summary of the astronomy content of the meeting will (probably) come later.  If you want to see some discussion of what went down, check out the #aas219 hashtag on twitter.

The advantage of going to a meeting in your hometown is that there are no annoying hotels to check into and you can mostly go on with your normal after-hours life.  The biggest disadvantage is that you don't get your meals covered.  Eating downtown every day can get pretty expensive, even if it just ends up being for lunch.  I managed to purchase only one meal the entire conference, due to an unfortunate hair in my fries and skipping a day when I felt sick.

On Monday, a group of us went to Moonshine Patio Bar and Grill, which is right next to the Austin Convention Center.  We were seated pretty quickly, though I attribute that to the fact that most of the astronomers were still in a plenary session about the structure of the galaxy.  At each table, they put out little buckets of seasoned popcorn.  It was pretty good, though I only had a few pieces so I could better control my blood sugar.  Oh, gestational diabetes.  I ordered the Backyard Chicken Sandwich, which consisted of chicken, pepper jack cheese, roasted poblano peppers, and avocado.  The sandwich was pretty messy, so I ended up eating most of it with a knife and fork and omitting the bun.  This was served with steak fries, which were hugenormous.  Unfortunately one had a hair in it, but after pointing this out, the waitstaff was awesome and brought me out a new plate of fries and comped my meal.   As they brought out the entrees, they gave us a basket of corn muffins.  These were pretty okay, though nothing incredible.  I'd definitely check this place out again if I'm downtown, though it is on the pricey side.
Backyard Chicken Sandwich

The next day we were looking for a lunch spot that didn't include burgers or Mexican.  It turns out that it's super hard for me to eat Mexican food because the combination of chips+salsa, tortillas+some small amount of meat/cheese+beans/rice is too carb heavy.  I've been trying to keep a ratio of 3:1 carbs:protein at most and really try to keep it within 2:1 if I can.  As we were walking out of the convention center, someone was hawking the banana pudding at Blue Ribbon Barbecue just two blocks away.  I suppose this should have been our first warning sign.  The banana pudding was probably the best thing there (and I hate banana pudding).  I ordered the chicken breast plate with cole slaw and potato salad.  The cole slaw and potato salad were both strangely sweet and the potatoes were waterlogged.  The (smoked) chicken was dry, which I suppose is my fault for ordering chicken, but they did have barbecue sauce at the tables so I tried my luck with that.  No dice.  The sauce was crazy sweet, oily, and had separated by the time I tried it.  I tried someone's brisket and it was pretty dry as well, though it wasn't as bad as the chicken.  Lesson learned: never go to a barbecue place that's trying to sell you on the strength of their desserts.  In terms of downtown barbecue, the best I've had has been Iron Works.  I've heard good things about Lamberts too, but I haven't been there.

Chicken breast platter with cole slaw and potato salad

In all, it was a good meeting even if the food was less than stellar. (HAHA get it? Stellar.  I'm a stellar spectroscopist so I get to make these jokes.  It's one of the few bones they throw us.)

15 January 2012

Menu planning in 2012

I haven't posted a menu in awhile because we've been really bad about not eating out between the combination of the holidays and having people over.  I had the horrible realization that we only have a little over seven weeks before my due date, which means that we only have seven weeks left to save money, get the house ready, and generally act like adults with no responsibilities other than to ourselves.  I'm wondering if a lot of cooking is going to fall to the wayside because of this, but I'm hoping not.  In any case, cooking at home lets us save money and, at the same time, do something that we might not have enough time to do in the crazy-near future.

This picture doesn't have anything to do with this post except that I'll be allowed to eat that in 7 weeks, if I so choose, damnit. 
bacon, salsa, cheddar, black bean quiche - sort of like a breakfast taco in quiche form

chicken quesadillas, black beans, cheater's Mexican rice - I add salsa and chicken stock in the rice cooker, instead of just water)

This is the night of our Bradley Method birthing class, so we usually grab something to go

beef stir-fry with green beans and mushrooms - recipe to come if I like it

beef and cheddar sausage, spinach salad with bacon, eggs, and anything else I can come up with

chicken with roasted butternut squash and creamed spinach

12 January 2012

Happy (belated) birthday, Kimchi!

January 7 was Kimchi's second/fourteenth birthday, so we decided to get her some gifts and make birthday bison tacos.  Okay, so that last part is a lie.  Tacos = lazy dinner.  Since the taco dinner happened on Kimchi's birthday, they also became birthday tacos.  We set her up with her own little bowl and then she went to town on it.

taco bowl

om nom

licking the bowl clean!

satisfied birthday girl
Later on, we gave her a few presents. I think she likes unwrapping the gifts almost as much as she likes playing with the toys.
Present number one: bully stick
She really does enjoy unwrapping gifts
She couldn't wait to play with her new toy
In all, it was a very happy birthday for my favorite little girl. :)

06 January 2012


So it's almost a week late, but I've been thinking about resolutions.  Everyone makes them and they mostly include being a better person in some way, shape, or form.  I usually resolve to lose weight, but this year it's a bit more difficult for me to get a gym membership and start pounding the pavement right. this. moment.  Instead, I want to set realistic goals with built in metrics, instead of some nebulous promise of "improvement".

Take better pictures
I've come a long way from not posting photos to posting grainy blackberry photos to my camera phone and now the DSLR, but I think it's time to actually figure out how to take pictures that don't suck.  I'd love to take a class, especially since baby portraits are CRAZY expensive, but we'll have to see about time and money constraints on that.

This? This is a crappy picture.

Comment on at least three posts for every time I sit down and go through blogs I read
I read a lot of blogs and I usually have a lot to say, but I hardly ever take the time to comment.  I'm not sure if it's because I'm shy or what, but it seems like it'd also help me bring in readers and show my appreciation for the time and effort the bloggers I read put into their posts.

Respond to comments
I'm notoriously bad at actually responding to blog comments and I want to make sure that I start responding to the few that I do get.

Post at least weekly
Last year, I posted more than I've ever posted, but most of these came in November and December.  I'd like to make sure that I'm posting at least weekly.  If I get into the habit, it'll make it easier not to just drop my blog once the baby comes.  Speaking of which...

Make sure that I'm putting real food into my body
Now, more than ever, it's important that I eat real food.  We generally do eat unprocessed foods, but sometimes it's hard and I'm tired and we give up and eat something that has more preservatives in it than is necessary.  I know how to cook... and well, if I do say so myself, so this shouldn't be such a problem for me.

real and tasty. also, real tasty.

Maintain healthy blood sugar levels
At my most recent prenatal appointment, my midwife indicated that she thinks that I'm really starting to develop gestational diabetes.  If it progresses to the point where I can't control my blood sugar through diet and exercise, I'll end up on synthetic insulin to regulate it.  Most people know that gestational diabetes creates big babies, but what it also does is degrade the blood vessels in the placenta, meaning that the fetus doesn't get adequate support.  It's because of this that my super natural birth-friendly OB induces labor at 39 weeks for women with uncontrolled GD.  After monitoring my blood sugar off and on for the past few weeks, I've sort of found a pattern that works for me.  I need to stick with it and not just get frustrated and quit so that I can make sure that i have a safe delivery and a healthy baby.

Drink more water
I shared this on twitter, but here's a graphic about what happens to a person's body when she's pregnant.  (TMI warning...) So it makes sense that I have to pee every 5 minutes... which is why I don't drink nearly as much water as I probably should.

There are a zillion more things that I should resolve to do better, but this is sort of what's been at the forefront of my mind for the past week.  Obviously it would be good to maintain healthy blood sugar levels my entire life, but some of these goals are shorter term than others.  I hope that by following these resolutions, I'm able to have both a healthy baby and become a better blogger.  What are your (late, like mine!) resolutions for the upcoming year?