Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Love Month Round-Up



I celebrated this Month of Love by sharing how to make a board book of your own and a Spicy Valentine. I wrote about how a trip to SpaWorld would be a gift appreciated by most.

I told you about Lessons Learned from Making Valentines with My Daughter and I couldn't resist sharing some photos of the experience. I dreamed of making a much more elaborate Valentine when she is older.

I revealed my love of Paperless Post, Nikki Giovanni, Gee's Bend Quilts, the C&O Lockhouse 6 , Sage Tea, Goodwill, Home-made Mushroom Soup and the City of Baltimore.

Hopefully, my post on an Ancient Ale Date Night inspired a creative date of your own!

Thanks for reading!!!

I Love....Baltimore



Happy Leap Day! It means I get one more day to write about this month's theme....Love.

I was inspired to write today by a weekend visit to my sister's house in Baltimore. I spent most of my twenties living in Charm City - a city that's colorful and quirky, full of grit and heart-ache but ever so hopeful. Baltimore....you still have my heart....

One of the things I love about Baltimore is it's small-town feel. On Friday, I walked into a children's store I have never been to in Hampden called Soft and Cozy Baby...and  who was working there? A friend I haven't seen since I was a few months pregnant! Small town, right?

On Saturday, my sister and I went to our old stomping ground, the 32nd Street Farmers' Market. The Thai Tea Guy recognized us and said it had been ages since we had visited his stand. It's good to be missed.

And what I miss is....

Making my Sunday pilgrimage to the Baltimore Farmers' Market and later on Sunday night sweating out all those toxins at the $6 Community Hot Yoga class at Charm City Yoga.

I miss....
Counting down the days until the First Thursday Concerts in the Park begin. Free music, wine, crab-cakes and running into many of my friends....what's not to love?

I miss...

Popping over to The Charles Theater when I feel the itch to see a film. Maybe one of these years I'll be able to participate in the 48 Hour Film Project.

I miss...

Long walks in Patterson Park and dodging Charm City Rollergirls roller-skating around Montebello Lake.


I miss...

Spending countless hours picking out books for my library at the Pratt Library Book Sale, Normals, Breathe Books, Red Emma's and Red Canoe. Baltimore is the City that Reads.

 

I miss....

Hitting up all the annual Fun like....the Kinetic Sculpture RaceBaltimore Pride, Artscape (my favorite event hands-down), Baltimore Powwow (not to be confused with this event which I have never been able to catch),  Baltimore Book Festival and the Great Big Halloween Parade of Light and Luminaria.

I miss....

Watching friends perform at the Ottobar2640 and the Creative Alliance....to name only a few of Baltimore's countless performance spaces. 

I miss....

Being in the audience at a Baltimore AfroBeat Society or Trixie Little and the Evil Hate Monkey or Fluid Movement or a Charm City Boys show.

I miss you....Baltimore. I think the American Visionary Art Museum symbolizes you the best....intense, down-to-earth, unpolished and breath-taking authentic. You are the real-deal and I love you.




Monday, February 27, 2012

I Love...Home-made Mushroom Soup

Only two more days for me to write about things I Love during this Month of Love!!!


My favorite soup to make hands-down is Mushroom Soup. Campbell's has nothing on this homemade stuff...

I went to the Waverly Farmers' Market in Baltimore with my sister on Saturday and bought all the ingredients there (except the Sherry). The Mushroom Lady recommended that I use shiitake instead of button mushrooms and I am glad I followed her advice. It ended up costing about $16 to make....pricey.... but I got at least 10 bowls of soups out of this batch. One of my best batches...


1/2 purple onion
2 pints of shiitake mushrooms
3 shot glasses of Golden Dry Sherry
handful of thyme
4ish tablespoons of flour
1 pint of cream
4 cups of water
pinch of sea salt
pinch of pepper

1. Saute onions in butter with a bit of thyme until they are transparent.

2. Add mushrooms. Sprinkle in some more thyme and a shot glass of sherry. Cook until mushrooms start shrinking (4-6 minutes).

3. SLOWLY start sprinkling in flour. Stir rigorously until you can't see any flour. Sprinkle more. Repeat procedure until there is a decent thick paste (probably about 4 tablespoons).

4. Add cream, water, salt, some more thyme (if you like) and the rest of the sherry. Low-heat for an hour.




Remember soup ALWAYS tastes better the next day....but this is pretty decent immediately.

I probably only added 3 cups of water when I made this on Saturday because I wanted my sister to eat some immediately and for it to taste yummy. On Sunday, I watered down the soup because it had had time to sit and marinate. I've added more water since, so the ratio of cream to water ends up being greater in the end (for those concerned about the calories). Enjoy!!!

Friday, February 24, 2012

I Love....Goodwill

I have mentioned before my deep love of yards and thrift stores. Two weeks ago, I went looking for materials to make a few cakes stands for Lina's First Birthday. I found what I wanted and then some...


Here are two wooden candlesticks, I found for $2 each. I have two wooden plates which I'm going to glue them to and make two cake stands. Much better than the $60 cake stands I saw at Pottery Barn last week!



I got this book for $1...it seriously rocks! I had never heard of this series before but they are great, interactive restaurant companions. You can find this particular book here.




Obviously, it was a success.




This is Lina's favorite page. I think she has a thing about mice. Maybe her first stuffed animal shouldn't have been Papa Rat.





This book was also $1. I couldn't resist a book about growing up in the country, now could I?




This statement is true. True of me and true of my daughter.




Here is a funny little book I found about nursing. At first glance, I thought it was a homemade board book because the photos look so unprofessional and grainy. But, no...it's actually one of the few board books which depict a toddler nursing. The idea is sweet - the execution definitely needs some work. It cost me a $1, so I won't complain.






Lina adores carrying her toys in a basket with a handle. Can't beat the price.



Needs some polish. But, I am always on the look-out for little trays for Montessori materials.




Also needs a little bit of love.



At $1.50, I couldn't resist this sweater for Valentine's Day.


I walked away from my little Adventure very, very happy with my Luck. What was your best thrift store or yard sale find?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

11 Months: Happy Birthday!


My Dearest Daughter,

On Tuesday... you turned 11 months old. Wow. Can you really be a handful of weeks away from turning 1? Everyone says the first year goes by fast but it REALLY does go by fast....kinda like weddings. You know it's going to speed by but it still takes your breath away.

Here we are...my amazing, curious little baby has transformed into a busy Big Girl.

You are my Sweet Yogini whose favorite position is downward dog. You like both picking up and carrying balls, as well as kicking them around. I often see you standing on tipee-toe in an attempt to see what's on a table. Nothing on a table is safe from you anymore.

You adore giving big hugs to stuffed animals. Your favorite expression is "uh-oh." Your favorite thing to do in the world is to walk around and pretend to talk on a cell-phone. You called me from Ra-Ra's phone on Sunday and then called Aunt Mimi on Monday at 7 am. Luckily, she was awake.

You think it's hysterical when I call you "Rascally Rabbit" and you race away during a diaper change. Daddy is still the best at that game. You LOVE snatching up and running with something you know you shouldn't be putting into your mouth...usually someone's shoes. It's hard to keep a straight face when I look into those mischievous eyes.

Often when you are told no, you will attempt to distract the person by pointing to something on the wall and say "a dat." Sorry, good try... but that doesn't work on Mommy...maybe it will work on one of your grand-parents. You are so lucky to have the most devoted grand-parents in the world!

Ra-Ra is amazed at how much you look like me at this age. You have the same way of scrunching up your nose and laughing uproariously when you're happy....thankfully, you are happy often.

Thanks for keeping us on our toes.


Know you are very, very loved,
Your Mama





I Love....Sage Tea





One of my favorite herbs is sage. There is nothing better than a cup of warm sage tea. I woke up with a sore throat this morning and typically sage is my "go to" plant when I'm feeling a tickle in my throat.

Unfortunately, sage is not recommended for pregnant or nursing mothers, so I haven't been able to use it for last 20 months. When I do begin the process of weaning my daughter, I will be making up for lost time and drinking lots of sage tea to help dry up my milk!

I could use it as a gargle but I didn't harvest any sage last summer...instead I am gargling with salt water. If I don't grow a particular herb, I often buy bulk herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs. They discuss the benefits of sage...here.

The good thing about developing a cold is that I've been inspired to start planning my herb garden. I'm so excited because I missed out on gardening over the last two years. This year I'm hoping to participate in one of City of Alexandria's Community Gardens. Are you planning a garden this year?


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I Love.... C & O Lockhouse 6




Sigh....my favorite month is almost over. But, I still have some time to squeeze in a few more things during this Month of Love.

I wanted to share with you my new favorite Local Getaway. It's conveniently located a few miles from Georgetown in the tiny community of Cabin John. It was here that the family spent both the day before Christmas Eve and Christmas Eve. I'm in love.





Two years ago, I read an article in the Washington Post about the possibility of renting out a Lockhouse on the C&O Canal. I stored the information away for future use and added it to my Bucket List. When I was brainstorming fun places to spend Christmas Eve, I remembered the article.





We chose Lockhouse 6 because it is the only one with a working kitchen, bath and electricity. Unfortunately, on our first night the heating system stopped working. According to the Lockhouse Master, it was the first time that had happened in the two years the Lockhouse has been available to rent. 

Even though the house has two wonderful fireplaces, you are not permitted to start any fireplaces in them. The Lockhouse Master came over immediately after we called and brought sleeping bags. My sister arrived the next day and provided a space-heater, so we managed without the heating system.




The house is decorated to reflect the early 1950's when there was a push to save the C&O Canal. The house just oozes charm. Just be warned, the bathroom is located in the basement.






During our stay, it was easy to forget we were only a mere 20 minutes from our house. The house is located very close to the road but when you start walking on the Towpath, you are transported to a much slower-paced time.  I can't wait to return during the Spring!







Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Swimming in Birthdays

Sunday I turned 33. Yesterday, was Presidents' Day (celebrating Washington's and Lincoln's birthdays). Today, we are attending a friend's 1st Birthday. Tomorrow, we are having my Birthday Celebration with my in-laws. And, in exactly one month my Big Girl will be 1!





Thursday, February 16, 2012

Make Compressions Socks Your Friends

I'm in the thick of those baby makin' years, so I know a lot of pregnant women. Some of them have asked me for a little advice. One Pregnant Mama recently sent me an Advice Card to be mailed back with her Baby Shower R.S.V.P.

Here's what I wrote to her...

Lessons Learned While Pregnant

1. Make compression socks your friend. I taught at a Montessori Preschool until I was 8 months pregnant, so I was on my feet constantly (as in I walked a minimum of 5 miles each during my work-day). At 5 months, I started wearing compression socks (the kind that nurses and Elderly people often wear). They were amazing. I had no swelling in my feet until I was 39 weeks pregnant. I have the same shoe size as I did before I was pregnant. Definitely wear a pair.

2. Start getting addicted to Greek yogurt. I followed the Brewer's Diet and consumed at least 80 grams of protein a day (often it would total 100 grams). I ate at least 3 Greek yogurts (they have twice the amount of protein ass regular yogurt), 1-2 eggs, 2-3 glasses of milk and lots of cheese each day (as well as tons of veggies and fruit).

I admit it, I was very serious about my diet while pregnant - I think that had something to do with my daughter being so strong when she was born. (After she was 3 weeks old, we didn't have to worry about supporting her head. She could sit up on her own at 4 months, crawled at 5 1/2 months and walked at 7 1/2 months. Who knows how much my high protein diet had to do with her development...at least a tiny bit...I think).

3. A doula is worth her weight in gold. We paid $700 for  my doula/birth assistant services and I don't know what I would have done without her. Even if you aren't planning on going the natural childbirth route, a doula can be a huge help.

4. If you're interested in a natural childbirth take a Bradley class. You take classes for 12 weeks, so begin a class when you are 5 months or so. A terrific investment ($350) and a great bonding experience. Our midwives required us to take the class and my husband initially kicked his feet at having to attend. But, we learned so much and gained a tremendous amount of confidence that helped BOTH of us during labor.

5. Educate yourself, if you want to breastfeed. I took a class here, read books, attended a La Leche League meeting and watched several videos and it was still hard.

If you live in the MD/NOVA/DC area, it's definitely worth a trip to check out the Breastfeeding Center. At 33 weeks, I went to the Center and had a FREE hour-long bra fitting. I tried on at least 20 different bras and found out the brand that really works for me. The woman who helped really knew her stuff  and it was so wonderful to have bras that I loved BEFORE the baby was born.

6. Find a Lactation Consultant that does home visits before you are Due. Sure you can go to a free classes at a local hospital and drag your newborn. But it's worth the $100-150 to have them visit you at your own house.

7. Walk, walk, and walk. I walked 5 miles daily until I was 8 months and then 2 miles 5 times a week afterwards. I stopped at 41 1/2 weeks but that was because I was busy trying other things to help convince her that it was time to make her Grand Entrance.

I felt really strong during my pregnancy and I'm sure it was because I refused to sit on the couch and eat sweets (not that I didn't occasionally devour some chocolate cake...but I was constantly being offered super-sugary sweets by my Indian relatives which meant I had to have a lot of self-restraint). Yoga and swimming also helped.

8. Do a belly cast. Yes, plaster does make a mess in your bathroom. And, yes, your partner may complain about doing the cast. But, it is so worth it in the end. Priceless (just like the commerical says).

9. Hire a post-partum doula for a massage afterwards. Your body has just been through the ringer - a massage feels heavenly (my mother was very sweet and treated me to one).

There are my 2 cents (and more)....Hope you can glean something from my experiences. Good-luck and take care of yourself!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I Love....Gee's Bend Quilts


You see this painting? Gorgeous, right? I remember looking through the newspaper a while ago and falling in love with this painting. Only....it's not a painting. It's a quilt. Astonishing.

It's a quilt made by an artist from the Gee's Bend Quilter's Collective. Gee's Bend is this tiny, isolated village in Alabama - tiny, as in less than 300 residents (according the 2010 census). Most of the residents are descendants of former slaves who worked on the Pettiway plantation. Due to the fact that the area was without a ferry service for many, many years, the quilters were able to develop their own artistic style without much outside influence.

If you haven't heard about these artists before, a brief history of the women of Gee's Bend can be found on NPR. This book and this book will hopefully join my library one day. I may never be able to afford an actual Gee's Bend quilt but perhaps a print of a quilt (sometime down the line). Sigh....such beauty. Which one is your favorite?












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