Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Summertime [and a treat!]

It may not be summer on the calendar, but it sure feels like it outside!  My goodness, the temperatures have already soared into the 90s with the humidity so high that my hair won't even curl.  The yard is full of ant hills and weeds, and the air is so sticky I can barely breathe.  Or maybe I can barely breathe because of this baby pressing ever closer to my lungs.  I'm going to be brave and post a picture.  No, this is not what I meant by "treat" in the title; keep reading for that.  I could go on and on with self-criticism but this is me, 19 weeks pregnant.  For the record, I think the side view is the worst.

Another sign of summer is hanging baskets.  I've always wanted some, and received these as a gift from Justin's grandmother.  I sure hope I don't kill them.  If they die, I'm blaming it on the heat.  Don't you think they're just so cheerful?

Another major sign that hot weather is here to say is my blender becoming a permanent fixture on the countertop.  I've been making smoothies almost every day since I've been pregnant to get lots of fruit in me, but now Justin is joining in on the frozen action.  The poor guy hardly ever gets coffee anymore because I don't ever want to drink it, and therefore don't think to make it for him before he leaves for work.  Now that the weather has warmed up, he's all about his iced coffees and homemade frappes.  I'll try to remember to write down what I've been putting together for him because they are so goooood!  I do want to share an a-maz-ing recipe for Frozen Hot Chocolate.  If you click on the link you'll find the printable from Tasty Kitchen, but I'll share it here too.  There are a few extra steps to making this drink but it is so worth it.
Ingredients [some have been modified from the original version to reduce sugar]
2 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp cocoa
2 Tbsp butter [yes, butter!]
1/3 cup Semi-sweet chocolate chips [you could use milk chocolate]
1/3 cup White chocolate chips
12 oz. can of Evaporated milk, divided
4 1/2 cups of ice
Homemade whipped cream
Marshmallows [if you fancy them]

Here's the extra step: using a double boiler [just a pot with 2-3 inches of boiling water with a heat-safe bowl on top], whisk together the sugar, cocoa, and butter until it becomes a paste.  Because I am impatient, I melted the butter in the microwave first and then added it.  Once that's mixed smoothly, add in the chocolate chips.  When they melt, add in 1/2 cup of the evaporated milk.  Stir this until it's smooth, or looks like this:

Now you need to let this come down to room temperature.  I popped it in the fridge for about 10 minutes and was good to go.  Add the 4 1/2 cups of ice to your blender and break it up first if necessary.  Then add in the rest of the evaporated milk and the chocolate mixture, blending until smooth.  Pour into frosty glasses and top with homemade whipped cream and/or toasted marshmallows.  This easily makes 4 medium-ish milkshakes or 2 huge ones [as pictured above].  The best part is, the sugar isn't too high and I used fat-free evaporated milk.  It seemed weird to me to not use ice cream, but it is sooo good and you don't have to feel too guilty about it!  Enjoy!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Today's cravings...

It's Thursday, May 19 at 1:49pm.  These are the current desires of my heart. 

*Coconut cake
*Pineapple upside down cake
*A French dip from Jenkins in Cleveland, Tn [they steam the buns!]
*Tacos from Taco Bueno in Texas [Why, I do not know.  I've only eaten there once or twice.]

Hmm.  What should I do?  I certainly don't need cake.  And I don't have access to Jenkins or Taco Bueno. 

It really is torturous to live in a small town while being pregnant because in general, I can't ever satisfy my cravings.  I usually hone in on restaurants that are in Atlanta.  Today is particularly sad for me because I don't see a solution to my problem.  I'm not driving to Texas for a lousy taco and as much as I'd like to take a trip to Tennessee, the craving may pass before I get there. 

I think the only solution is to make a pineapple upside down cake.  With salted caramel.  Oh yeah...that should do it.  ;)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Please forgive me

[...I can't stop lovin' you.]  Name that song. 

I did want to offer a sincere apology for not blogging about food for the past 3 or 4 months.  I've hardly blogged at all, actually.  I'm sure you understand, what with being pregnant and all.  For more details on my strange eating habits, see this post.  I haven't tried a lot of new recipes, but even when I have there's been no desire to share.  My diet consists mostly of peanut butter and milk, with a few sandwiches here and there.  Oh, and lots of ice cream.  Don't judge me; I need 80 grams of protein a day [or so they say]. 

I do want to share a blog that I've been gleaning a lot of inspiration from, Mel's Kitchen Cafe.  She's got hundreds of tried-and-true recipes that have been passed down from her family and church ladies.  If there are church ladies involved, you know it's got to be good!  Please check her out and try some of her recipes.  You'll be so glad you did!

For those of you wanting a little pregnancy update, I'm 17 weeks now.  The baby weighs about 6 oz. and is the size of an onion.  I get these weekly updates that compare my baby to the size of produce or sports equipment.  Three weeks ago it was a softball, last week a naval orange, and this week, an onion.  I don't know about you, but those three items are all the same in my book.  All I know is that I've got a basketball [or watermelon] coming my way!

I can feel it squirming around every now and then, especially at night when I try to go to sleep.  On the Friday of Mother's Day weekend, I felt it move for the first time.  We went to Chuy's [tex-mex] and then to Graeter's [local ice cream] and on the way home, I felt those first little flutters. 

The Monday after, my midwife told me it was just gas.  Obviously she doesn't know me at all.  I may not know a lot about how babies feel, but I think I know what gas bubbles feel like.  She then proceeded to lecture me about my eating habits because obviously I was eating way too much fast food and drinking at least 12 Mountain Dews a day.  I just smiled and nodded; she has no idea who she was talking to.  Besides, at the hospital baby fair, they're the ones who served cokes galore without a bottled water in sight. 

I did gain a lot of weight in the first trimester, but it wasn't from McDonalds.  I haven't eaten McDonalds [or otherwise] in at least a decade.  When it comes to fast food, we stick to Chick Fil A [the Christian chicken] and keep our visits to once or twice a month.  I gained a lot of weight at first because all I could eat was bread.  If you live off bread for 3 months, you'll gain 20 lbs too, sister!  It's all under control now [I hope]; I only gained 2 lbs last month. 

Speaking of food, it's time for my second breakfast.  Or first lunch, however you want to look at it.  :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

I'm pregnant and I can blog about vomit if I want to...

Today is Monday.  So far I've managed to catch up on the blogs I read, start the dishwasher, projectile vomit all over my shower curtain [followed by scouring the entire bathroom], and eat s'mores in my bed.

I can see the sun rising on week 17 of this pregnancy.  From weeks 11-15 I felt so great, and I guess I got kind of cocky.  Last week I threw up once on Monday and I've started this week off the same way.  It doesn't help that it's not even 50 degrees outside and raining. 

My parents were here all last week.  I wish my mom was still here today because no one likes taking care of themselves when they're sick. 

The worst part about the kind of vomit that comes with pregnancy is how suddenly it occurs.  I can be just minding my own business when suddenly I have to grasp my hand over my mouth and sprint to the nearest drain.  Fortunately I've made it to the toilet [or close to it] each time.  The second worst thing is having to clean the bathroom right after.  I mean, everything that wasn't tied down in my body just came violently forth and now I have to clean.  Thankfully the yucky feeling tends to quickly subside after the vomit leaves my body and I can muster up the energy to get a cloth and a spray bottle.

On a less disgusting note, we did get to see our little potsticker squirming around in my uterus this week.  I managed to convince the midwife how important it was that I have an ultrasound last week while my parents were visiting so that they could see it.  Justin and I went in first while they did the scanning part [I think to make sure it was all normal] and then my parents got to take turns coming in and watching.  We also got a picture but I don't feel like taking the time to put it on here.  It's just a uterus; once you've seen one you've seen 'em all. 

No one told me about how I'd have to drink 50 oz. of water the hour of the ultrasound and then try to hold in my pee during the procedure.  We were racing back from Lexington as I was chugging water in the backseat.  I also managed to spill some water down the front of my jeans which made me look as if I had lost the fight with my bladder. 

If someone had said that behind Door #1 was a million dollars and behind Door #2 was a toilet, I would have chosen Door #2.  But it was worth it.  It has its legs and arms and fingers and toes, and we even got to see its face changing expressions.  It was still a little tiny for us to see the gender, but it won't be long.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Things no one told me about being pregnant...

I'll be adding to this along the way, but here are a few surprises I've encountered.  Every woman is different, and with the way my life is I should have known that some pretty weird things would happen to me.

1.  My pants didn't fit after 7 or 8 weeks.  I imagined not needing maternity clothes until around 20 weeks.  Well, it didn't take long for my jeans to start cutting off my circulation.  I tried the belly band for a couple weeks but didn't really like it.  So I started full on into maternity jeans at 12 weeks and have been filling them in ever since.  I'm telling myself that because I have such a short torso the baby doesn't have anywhere to go but out.  That could be it, right?

2.  Speaking of maternity jeans, how awesome are those?  Why didn't I know about them sooner?  Every girl needs a pair for her "fat" days.  They're almost more comfortable than my yoga pants.  I'm wearing them forever.

3.  Most nights, I have these dreams that wake me with such vigor that I feel I've been a victim of inception.  I have the strangest dreams, but I can't tell you the content because you might judge me.  Let's just say there are a lot of small animals in my care in these dreams, and sometimes I eat them.  Well, I guess you think I'm weird now.

4.  My friend "projectile vomit" came to visit from weeks 5-10.  Then it left, but came back twice during week 15.  I thought it was supposed to magically leave at week 12.  All those blogs and books I'm reading are full of crap.

5.  Afterbirth.  I went to a baby fair and saw one on a slide show.  Yeah...  I didn't know about that. 

6.  People will suddenly feel compelled to tell you the worst pregnancy/labor/delivery scenarios they've ever heard of.  If it was something they saw on some obscure news program about a woman delivering a two-headed baby in Indonesia, you're going to hear about it.  I've started to cut these people off before they get too far...trust me, I do not need to know.

7.  Am I fat or am I pregnant?  I'm not one of the jerks [because I can't say what we all know I'm thinking]---"blessed" women who just gets to grow a basketball right out in front of her.  I have accepted the fact that I'm going to swell up like the girl who chewed Willy Wonka's gum and turned into a blueberry.  "Violet, you're turning violet!", remember?  But for right now, I sort of just look like I've gained 25 lbs all over my body.  I may be exaggerating, but this is how I feel. 

All I can say is that I'm glad this baby was a surprise because I would never do this on purpose.  :)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

New eating habits

Things I can't eat now that I'm pregnant:

Ground beef
Salad-98% of the time
Coffee-only lattes in the afternoon
Cereal in the morning-it's the milk
Anything with dairy before noon

Things I eat way too much of:

PB&J-Not so weird, but I normally don't eat jelly.  I will wake up at 2am and eat this without shame.
Peanut butter-We're going through a jar a week; I eat it by the spoonful.
Bread/crackers- It's not so bad now, but those first few weeks were a carb binge.  I personally went through a Sam's Club sized variety box of crackers within 3 weeks.  I have also cried at The Olive Garden for not getting bread fast enough. 

Something weird:

I don't hate sausages [bratwurst, Italian, breakfast], but they've never been my favorite.  However, since I've been pregnant, sausage is what always sounds good for dinner.  Very weird.


I haven't had too many, but I've heard they're coming.  I have off-and-on strongly desired lemon things: lemonade, lemon and pasta, lemon desserts. 
Which brings me to desserts: if I see it, I have to have it.  If it's a commercial, a show on Food Network, or a recipe online, it starts to manifest itself and at some point during the day I will either have to cave in and eat it or cry.  I generally just cave in.  No one wants the ugly cry because of a cupcake.  I try not to eat something too terrible.  Sometimes it's just a spoonful of Nutella, but other times [like last night] I just have to make cookies.  I think I'm going to start buying some Godiva dark chocolate to keep around to help curb those cravings.  Ice cream was big a few weeks ago, but now I'm down to just needing that every other week or so.  I've been planning to go to Graeter's in Louisville on Friday for a week now, and it seems like having my sweets scheduled helps.  Is that weird? 

I'll update this as my tastes change. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

How should I respond to the death of Osama bin Laden?

Let me start out by saying that Facebook, Twitter, and my dinky little blog is no place for political, spiritual, or personal argument.  It's ok to have different thoughts than others but please be respectful.  That being said, I wanted to write a bit about what I've been wrestling with since the news broke last night about the death of Osama bin Laden. 

Undoubtedly in the coming days people will begin to ask, "Where were you when you heard the news?"  I know I can still remember where I was on 9/11, but forgive me if I don't think this news is as significant.  We're of the time in history when news is more frequently found out from Facebook or Twitter, and that's exactly how I found out.  I turned on the news as we laid in bed but I quickly faded, sleepy but coherent enough to feel slightly uneasy. 

When I woke up this morning and turned on the news, I didn't feel elated, I didn't feel compelled to sing our national anthem.  Although I was wondering why the Today show is still talking about the royal wedding...but I digress.  At best, I would describe my emotions as cautiously alert.  I didn't feel excited, hopeful, or even relieved.  Part of me wondered if it was really even him.  I now know that it is, but I couldn't help but doubt for a few moments.

"Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; or the Lord will see it and be displeased, and turn His anger away from him." Proverbs 24:17-18

As I read this scripture this morning I began to feel as if it wasn't my place to feel excitement about this death.  Am I proud of our military?  Absolutely.  Am I hopeful that less people will be hurt in the future due to his death?  For sure.  Am I dancing in the streets?  Not at all. 

I feel thankful that I was born to Christian parents in a free nation.  If I had been born to Muslim parents in a Muslim nation, what would have happened to me?  As a human race, we're not really all that different from each other.  We're capable of so many things, including evil.  And we all need the grace of Christ to save us from ourselves.  Osama bin Laden needed grace just as badly as I did.  If I hadn't received the grace of God, who knows where I'd be.  Probably not a sadistic radical Muslim terrorist, but evil just the same.  So part of me feels sad at the knowledge that he is in hell for eternity.  I can't jump up and down and say, "Thank God that evil man is dead!" and in the same breath pray for my enemies.  It seems weird to me.  I know that Osama made choices in his life that took him far away from a life spent in Christ, and he is now taking full responsibility for the lives he has taken away.  He's not getting off the hook in my mind.  I guess I feel sadness at the waste that became of him.  But he was evil.  Just read some of the accounts of the raid that took his life.  He performed some of the most hanus acts in history.  It's only fitting that his death was announced on the 66th anniversary of Hitler's death.

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'  But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?  Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others?  Do not even the Gentiles do the same?  Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
Matthew 5:23-28

*A great blog to read about today's events and the above scripture is Rev Jason Blanton.  He is much more eloquent than I am.  Thanks Janie, for sharing.

When reading from Matthew this morning I began to realize that I have probably not ever in my whole life prayed for the enemies of the USA.  Perhaps they are not my personal enemy, and because I am so self-absorbed I have never thought about praying for them.  Osama bin Laden had a family.  There's still a chance for them to come to Christ.  I pray that his followers will have a change of heart and be able to safely leave the bondage of their militant groups.  Muslim is an alleged "peaceful religion".  Perhaps they could demonstrate that for us.  My American Muslim friends aren't out trying to blow people up, why can't the ones in the Middle East behave as such?

If my jumbled thoughts haven't turned you away by now, the question I pose is this: what should be the Christian response to this news?  Really, what do you think?  I think as I work through this, my response is two-fold.  First, I don't believe we should be shouting from the rooftops about how excited we are that he died.  I don't know if any of us have the right to speak of justice for 9/11 unless we have a personal relationship to one of the victims.  If I did have a relationship with one of the victims, my opinion would probably be the same as it is now: justice can never be served.  One life for 3,000?  Not equal in my brain. The second part of my response is to caution others about feeling like we're safe now.  Osama was one person.  Many government officials have stated that his leadership has faded in the years since 9/11 and a new core group has emerged.  Also, I worry about how they will retaliate.  From speaking to my brother, a staff sargent in the USAF, he said this event isn't bringing anyone home. 

I heard several people speculate on the news about how this could bring peace and democracy to the Middle East.  First of all, if that does happen, watch out!  Major things are going to be happening and we may need to brush up on Revelations so we can be prepared for the fulfilling of the last prophecies.  More realistically, the death of one person is probably not going to result in peace.  I tweeted earlier, "There has only been one death that resulted in peace and we celebrated that last week [Easter]."  I worry that some may start to feel comfortable and therefore more vulnerable to attack. 

This is pretty choppy and unorganized, I feel, but so are my thoughts.  I wonder, if my baby was born and walking around right now instead of inside me kicking my bladder, what would I say to her about how she should respond to this?  Do I want my children to rejoice in the death of people, even evildoers, or to feel compassionate for the souls of mankind? 

Hmmm...a lot to chew on.  Just wanted to share.  Feel free to jump in on the conversation.