Monday, November 30, 2009

Baking marathon begins!

Oh dear friends in the internet...I am looking for new (to me) and exciting recipes for Christmas cookies. That's right, at the moment I'm feeling like eating! And baking too. This year, I've got at my disposal not just an oven. But I have my mother's kitchen which looks a lot like Mrs. Claus' house. She has more cookie sheets, decorations, and baking paraphernalia than I've ever had in my own little kitchen. As such, I'm feeling like doing some serious baking. Perhaps not fair to my mother, recently diagnosed as diabetic, but I can't help it! Luckily, her willpower these days is great and she can sample a cookie or two without adversely affecting her blood sugar levels, mostly because she's so good at managing her diet and exercising regularly. Go mom!

My mother is actually the one who instilled in me the love of baking Christmas cookies until your freezer can't hold anymore. When I was a child, she was the choir director and organist at our church and every year at the holidays she would have the choir members over to our house for a rehearsal and plates full of cookies! She also hosted a holiday open house every year which also prominently featured trays of home-baked cookies. And I think that she's looking forward to doing some

So here's my request:
Do you have any favorite cookie recipes? I'm especially interested in those that are festive and holiday-like but they don't necessarily need to be such.

Even more specific (but certainly not a requirement to a good recipe) do you happen to have any favorite diabetic-friendly holiday treats? Since my mom is new to the diabetic diet, I'd sure like to help her out with a few good recipes.

Please share!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

East Coast Girls are Hip

My apologies to the Beach Boys, but I can't that song out of my head at the moment. I'm on the East Coast! We officially survived the trip to upstate New York where we'll be spending approximately the next five weeks with my parents. I'm incredibly lucky to have a very good relationship with my parents and I'm especially thrilled that our lives right now make it possible for us to travel for extended periods of time. Peanut adores her Nana and Grampa and has been happy as a pig in mud ever since we got here. In fact, her jet lag was minimal and within 3 days of our arrival she was on a regular schedule of eating and sleeping and that has certainly helped to keep her mood light and bright.

I am feeling better just in the last week which is a blessing after a terrible week that included me hugging the toilet bowl for a few days, serving on jury duty, and trying to pack up some of our personal belongings in our house to make way for our renters (yay!). It is wonderfully relaxing to simply enjoy some quality time with my parents and to watch them with my daughter. My husband, good-natured man that he is, gets along famously with my parents and happily cooks dinner for us all once in a while and even gets time to himself to work on his new business. I am looking forward to next week's turkey-fest with with great anticipation in part because I love celebrating the holidays with my family, and in part because I'm hungry quite a bit lately and am feeling the nausea much less frequently (thank goodness!).

I am looking forward to returning to a more regular schedule now that the end of the 1st trimester is approaching and I'm starting to feel well again. Thank you for all of your wonderful and sweet well wishes. I am truly fortunate to have such kind folks around me!

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Yep. I've tried to dance around it for a while now, but the plain fact is, I'm finding it hard to blog because the morning sickness and food and smell aversions have knocked me off my game. I was stunned to see a positive pregnancy test a few weeks ago, but it was in a "how could we possibly be that lucky?????" kind of way. Here we thought that the second go around could easily take another year or more, but nope. I'm apparently one of those wacky and lucky few who never get a period while breastfeeding and still manage to get pregnant again. I suppose I have some "survivor's guilt" about that. I lamented our previous experience for so long that I really felt those of us waiting for baby #2 were all in the same boat. Only I'm not; and that feels weird to me. I think I'm beginning to adjust to the fact that this is happening. Who knows what time will bring. I'm not due until June and I'm still several weeks away from the end of the 1st trimester, but for right now, this is real and it's an amazing gift.

Amidst all of our celebrating, we're still trying to get our house prepped for a rental. Did I mention we may have found renters? Some friends of friends need a place to stay for a few months during a renovation on their house and the timing coincides quite well with our excursion to the East Coast and then on to Japan. Doing all of the cleaning, prepping, packing, storing, etc. with the occasional bout of nausea has been a challenge. Right now, I'm just trying not to be overly ambitious.

For now, I'm hanging in there and have my eyes on the prize: I'm hoping that the nausea will have seriously subsided by the time Thanksgiving rolls around. This is my year for turkey, gravy and mashed potatoes!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Halloween 2009

This past weekend was our first celebration of Halloween "American-style." It was perhaps even more exciting for me than it was for my daughter. Where I grew up, in upstate New York, we could pretty much count on freezing cold weather and occasionally snow for Halloween. This made trick-or-treating somewhat less enjoyable because in order to be warm, you often had to sacrifice the cool looking effects of your costume. This year, the temperature was a lovely and mild almost 60 degrees. We dressed up Peanut in her costume and headed off to a local trick-or-treating event. We met up with some friends and their toddler. The kids got a few pieces of hard candy and then wanted to head outside away from the crowds. They sat down (outdoors - with no coats!) and nibbled on their hard candy. Then we walked up and down the street where other local businesses were all handing out goodies. The kids even got to share a free gelato. How cool is that? We were able to enjoy ice cream, outdoors on Halloween!

Afterwards, we headed across the street to a great little izakaya for some korokkes for the kiddos and lots of great tempura, kushikatsu, and yakitori. They also served French fries with wasabi mayonnaise; this is my new favorite dish!

Last year we weren't able to really celebrate Halloween in the same way, since we were in Japan. This year, we had both an American style celebration and great Japanese food too. Who says you can't have it all??

And now, the gratuitous cute kid pic:

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Back in the Saddle

I'm trying to get back into the swing of things here at home (Seattle) after our trip to Raleigh, while simultaneously preparing to go on the road again. In another couple of weeks we're off to the East Coast to visit my parents for the holidays and from there it's on to Japan again. I can't begin to describe how happy I am to be spending Thanksgiving AND Christmas with my folks. I will be very thankful this year!

In the meantime we're in the midst of chaos once again. But I'm sure you can imagine what that's like. Rather than cover all that now, I thought I'd mention how weird and surreal it was to be looking in on the lives of my sister and brother-in-law and their new baby. Baby G was just about 2.5 months old when we visited and your average happy-go-lucky baby. What I had forgotten or blocked out I suppose, was how steep the learning curve can be as a new parent. I can't remember the last time I saw such stressed out parents. And then it occurred to me that maybe I had and just couldn't remember it! I have no idea how we looked to outsiders. Most of our friends have kids close in age to Peanut, so when I saw them with newborns, we were all frazzled and sleep-deprived and learning as fast as we could.

I wished on multiple occasions that I could have taken the baby from my sister and offered to make it better. But new parents have to learn in their own time and their own way.

I wished on multiple occasions that I could make them more comfortable with having us (and our toddler) stay in the house with them. Especially so that they wouldn't have to be so worried about all damage she might do to herself since that is just as much my job as Peanut's parent as it is their job as host/ess. But again, they're not used to being around toddlers and need more time and exposure to be comfortable with the everyday antics of a toddler.

I worried that I wasn't parenting as well as I should or could. Their level of concern about my child's behavior was much more intense than my own level of concern and I don't know if it's because I'm too "hands-off" and therefore negligent in some way (or maybe I'm just a bad guest?). Or maybe it's truly just a difference in parenting styles (or to be fair maybe they were just far too overwhelmed to be hosting us and dealing with a newborn and the whole situation just created more anxiety for them).

All in all, my head was sort of spinning after our trip. I kept trying to look back at my own experience nearly 1 1/2 years ago to see what I would have looked like to an outsider. But of course that's never really possible. I just keep thinking that there's a valuable lesson to be learned from our trip but I'm unable to see it yet.