Thursday, November 15, 2012

Howe First Cousins Reunion

Here are a few pictures, courtesy of cousin Joe, from the 
1st Cousins Reunion (plus Liz and Willow)
in Sister Bay, WI, September 14-17

Friday, September 21, 2012

Willow's First Birthday

I finally got my brother's pictures from the girl's first birthday looked at and ready for posting. Only a month late, not bad. :)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Removing stains (aka I'm a Clutz)

This is the second day in a row that has been a two shirt day for me since I keep spilling on myself as soon as I get dressed. First, there was the butter spatter while making cherry almond muffins. (OMG, 1/2 t. almond extract and a drained pint of home canned cherries added to any basic muffin recipe - excellent. Don't forget to drink the leftover juice too!) Today, coffee.

So, tips I've been dredging up from my memory or finding on the internet

Coffee - rub with ice. Keep rubbing with ice until it disappears. It's so much fun watching this happen that I'm sometimes almost tempted to spill coffee on something just so I can perform this magic trick.

Grease - scrub with dish soap, rinse with white vinegar, repeat as needed (still waiting for it to dry to see how well this one worked, so far it looks good.)

Berries and Grapes - pour boiling water over it until it disappears - another magic trick.

Please add any of your favorite cleaning tricks in the comments below because who knows what I'll manage to spill tomorrow?!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

New Spring Menus

Since we moved, Q and I have fallen into bad eating habits so for the last two weeks, we've gone back to eating pretty much following Whole30 rules during the week. We've been eating whatever we want on the weekends but that's going to have to stop. We really do feel better overall when we're not doing grain and sugar (the other stuff doesn't seem to affect us as much). Last time we were eating this way was during winter and we relied on a lot of braised/roasted sorts of winter foods with lots of root veggies. That felt very wrong for this time of year so I dug up some new recipes to throw into the mix. These first four have been excellent successes - and they're all relatively fast and easy.

Curried Coconut Chicken - oh my goodness, so delicious. We served this with artichokes and used the sauce for dipping the leaves which meant we didn't miss the rice for the curry or the butter for the artichoke. I threw some scrambled eggs into the leftover sauce the next day for a phenomenal breakfast.

Sweet Potato Chicken Salad - This was a wonderful hot weather meal because it's served cold. I prepared it a few hours before dinner and then fridged it to let the flavors meld a little. The leftovers had gotten a little overpowered by the onion flavor the next day. I wondered about storing them separately and then mixing them in just before serving if I knew I was making it in advance or using milder or sweeter or just plain less onion.

Tuna Noodleless Casserole - It's best to think of this as a "Casserole featuring Tuna" so it doesn't get unfairly compared to something loaded with noodles and cheese and cream. It's super delicious though but it does take a fair amount of preparatory chopping. We used all yam and no white potatoes.

Pork Chops with Mushrooms - Okay, I totally cheated on the Whole30 thing here because I knew my tweaks would make it better and who can't resist making more tasty food? I added a little butter to the cooking onions along with the olive oil and deglazed the pan with some red wine after the mushrooms/onions cooked. Still paleo, but tweaks just the same, I used beef stock instead of chicken and half fresh and half mixed dried mushrooms (soaked) because that's what I had. Nom nom nom. All in all, still a pretty healthy dish for the amount of rich flavor it carries.

Let me know if anyone else tries any of these and what you think (especially if you come up with ways to make them even more delicious). Also, give me links if you have any other favorite recipes that fit the paleo/primal diet.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Breastfeeding in America

Okay, so until recently I was living in Eugene, OR; which I think many will agree is not "America" per se. In Eugene, if I'd happened to pump and was feeding a bottle in public I wanted to wear a sign assuring everybody that it wasn't formula in the bottle. :)

Once again public breastfeeding is getting some publicity because Beyonce was breastfeeding in a restaurant, which is really the first thing she's ever done that made me have any respect for her. The comments on the facebook post where I first saw the article had a lot of discussion about covering up. Personally, I seriously begin wondering about people. There's a huge baby head covering the "not for magazine covers" bit and it seems like doing something like I did in the photo above is much more subtle than the "hooter hiders" and other such nonsense, which, to me, seem to be around simply to announce "there is a naked boob just under this cloth". I'm all for every woman doing whatever it takes to make her comfortable feeding her baby wherever she may be but I wish every woman could feel confident and comfortable enough to not feel she has to go to such lengths. I also can't imagine Willow's ever increasing volume as I got a contraption like that in place.

One of the other comments in the post linked to this site, which reminded me of some information I'd forgotten since I first read it when Willow was a newborn. Even though the American Academy of Pediatricians (about as mainstream as you can get) recommends breastfeeding through the first year and breastfeeding exclusively for the first 6 months, only about 44% of American infants are still being breastfed at all at 6 months and about 15% are being breastfed exclusively at that age. I can only imagine how difficult pumping is for working moms and I think this probably accounts for some of the statistic; I'm extremely grateful for my situation. Even for me the past six months have not been a fairy tale nursing story. I have had mastitis twice, many sore nipples and plugged ducts and spent the first six weeks of Willow's life dealing with an SNS (supplemental nursing system) and a nipple shield as she learned to nurse. That said, I believe it's one of the greatest gifts I can give her in these early months to set the stage for a healthy life and I've never once even thought of stopping in the last six months.

We starting playing with giving her a few bites of pureed banana and peaches over the last week (she was 6 months old on February 24) but after some initial enthusiasm she hasn't really shown a great deal of interest in more than a couple of bites now and then. Rereading the recommendations, I've been reassured that I shouldn't be feeling this push from some invisible force to try too hard to get her "eating". She's a healthy, chubby baby and we'll just keep playing with food here and there until she's ready to lead the way to more regular forays into solids. I feel like this is really the new frontier of the breastfeeding revolution - continuing past the first few weeks or first couple of months and letting babies get the full benefits that more extended breastfeeding can offer. Who knows, maybe Americans will someday even get to the point where the WHO's recommendation of breastfeeding up to 2 years won't seem unusual and "weird".

So ends the latest rant, which is good because I've got to get an hour or so of sleep before my baby wakes up for one of her nighttime feedings. ;)

(Pretty much a viral image at this point but I copied this one from here.)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Nanners are Yummy (First Foray into Solids)

Oh my darling girl. I can't believe she's already ready to start exploring food. She's certainly taking to it as enthusiastically as she does everything else.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bumps on the Road to Becoming Coloradoans

When we returned to Oregon after visiting family at Christmas, we came to the difficult decision that having Willow grow up near her grandparents and extended family in Denver was more important to us than continuing to live in the Northwest. This was hard because we REALLY liked living in Oregon.

It seemed like the heavens smiled down on the move - Q got a great job from his first round of applications and friends decided that they wanted to rent our house. Seven weeks after the decision was made, we had the moving van packed and left Eugene on the afternoon of February 19. And so began the journey we began to affectionately dub "the trip that never ends".

Q and his dad were in the 26' moving van and were planning on driving straight through on the almost 24 hour journey. Mom and I followed with the car with two cats and a baby, pulling a 5'x8' trailer. We got a late start on the day we left (3p) but figured it would all work out.

About 16 hours later, Q and his dad got to Rawlins, Wyoming, where the highway (I-80) was closed due to hazardous conditions. It stayed closed for the next three days. Luckily, after delaying for one night and, seeing no change in conditions, they took a circuitous route through Casper, Wyoming that added several hours to their trip. It was good that they went when they did because I-25 (the alternate highway they used) closed shortly after they made it through. Apparently that journey was rather hairy, with points in time where snow was blowing so hard that they couldn't tell where the horizon was in a solid sheet of whiteness. I'm grateful I didn't know about that detail until they were safely in Denver. They arrived in Denver only a day later than they had anticipated.

On the first day, Mom and I had stopped in The Dalles, Oregon for the night. The skies looked clear the next morning as we approached the final Oregon mountains and we were skeptical when we saw signs saying that chain laws were in effect for towing vehicles for a 10 mile streetch only 20 miles beyond where we were. From there, however, conditions rapidly deteriorated and I learned how to put chains on the car at a snowy rest stop as Mom held Willow. We then hobbled along with our chains (which we ended up being rather grateful for) for the next 20 miles. An hour later, we were preparing to pull into a chain removal zone, feeling that we were finally out of the woods, when a tire on the trailer went suddenly and completely flat. Flat in the way that there was a limp ring of rubber loosely associated with the wheel. Mom was able to pull way over and we called U-haul. Two hours later, a wonderfully helpful fellow arrived, changed our tire, and had us back on the road. With an average of 6 miles an hour for three hours, our trip was not progressing at the speed we had anticipated. All of our adventures were happening as we stayed in touch with Q and his dad as they approached the closure at Rawlins. We stopped in Boise for the night (Monday) and decided to take the southern route, through Utah, the next day to avoid Wyoming's roads. After a very long day on Tuesday, we were grateful to pull up to my aunt's house in Grand Junction, where I locked the cat's in her guest bathroom and she found beds for my mom, my baby, and me. That was the night that I-70, our route over the mountains to Denver, closed due to extremely high winds and snow. We ended up staying in Grand Junction on Wednesday and Thursday until they were no longer warning vehicles with light trailers away from the highway. We were so lucky to have such a gracious hostess and delightful companion in the form of my dear aunt.

Finally, on Friday, February 24, three full days after we had anticipated, we arrived in Denver. We were joyfully reunited with Q (Wil practically turned inside out with happiness when she saw her daddy) and have had the last five days to recover and temporarily move into my parent's basement until we find a house. Q seems to be settling well into his new job, the cats are beginning to relax, and Willow is getting back on a regular schedule. Hopefully, after all the craziness of the last two months, I'll get back into a routine of posting our adventures in this space. Although we grew up in Colorado, our entire adult lives have been as Oregonians and we're anxious to get reacquainted with the area.