11/20/14

Recently tried recipes


Crockpot dal
. This was amazingly good, the best dal I've tried. I used yellow split peas (not sure if they are the same as pigeon peas) and I used canola oil instead of ghee. It seemed watery but thickened up a lot as it cooled. I'm definitely making this again!

Crockpot minestrone. Not as good as my mom's stovetop minestrone, but a serviceable slow cooker recipe. This makes a ton! Next time I would make half.

Slow cooker red lentil soup. I was so excited about this one and it was okay, but kind of boring.

Kale salad with warm cranberry vinaigrette. This is the last garden meal I made this year before it snowed. I love the idea of "massaging" the kale (squishing it up with your hands): it definitely makes it easier to eat raw. I made a few substitutions which prove that this is a  flexible, forgiving recipe. I will definitely make it again. The kids weren't excited about it, but I loved it!

Slow cooker chicken noodle soup. I'm a soup snob. I didn't like this, but the rest of my family did. I have a hard time finding slow cooker soup recipes I like, probably because I don't constantly taste and adjust as it cooks.

Chicken and rice bake. I used brown minute rice, ranch dressing seasoning, and added a pound of frozen broccoli. Didn't love it.

11/17/14

How I'm surviving


The transition to three children has been tough! It is hard to take care of a newborn baby plus two high-energy children with schedules and school and homework and piano lessons and church and everything else.

But you know what? We're surviving, and things are looking better all the time. Here's what's working for me right now.
  • Give myself time to heal. I have been trying to get plenty of rest, and I'm starting to feel much better physically than I have in months. It's so great not to be pregnant anymore!
  • Take care of myself. Naps and showers are a priority.
  • Say yes to help. This is hard for me, but I am getting better with practice.
  • Use the slow cooker. I actually don't love the way the slow cooker cooks my food, but it displaces dinner prep time to the morning, which is much, much easier for me. Even putting a casserole in the oven at 5pm sometimes doesn't happen. Dinner is guaranteed when I use the slow cooker.
  • Freezer meals. I'm so glad I made some when I was pregnant, and I'm going to try to replenish my supply soon.
  • Let some things slide. I can't keep up with everything, so if I don't scrub the bathtub in the next few months, or if the kids spend too much time on the computer while I nap, we will probably live. I have to remind myself that this is temporary.
  • Load-a-day laundry. This is still working wonderfully for me, even though I'm not doing it perfectly. Of course now that Baby is here, it's closer to two loads a day.
  • Hold Baby as much as possible. Because I like him, and he won't be a baby forever.
  • Make extra effort to connect with the older children each day. I feel guilty that I'm not paying as much attention to the older kids lately, but I try to have a talk with them around bedtime and they love the five minutes we spend one on one.
  • Ease back into things. Right now I don't feel ready to drive the kids to school each day, but I've made a goal to get them there on their late-start day. Baby steps.
If you have any new baby survival tips, please share!

11/10/14

Accepting service


Throughout my life, I have generally preferred to be the one giving service, not the one being served. But in the past few months, and especially since Baby came, I have been the recipient of so many kind acts.

People have taken care of my kids, brought us dinner, checked up on me, passed along baby items, and so much more. These things were not done grudgingly, but were offered up freely and done so very kindly and well.

I've also received innumerable acts of service from within my family: fetching and carrying, meals made, dishes done, laundry started, baby rocked, children taken care of.

I almost don't know where to start listing the acts of kindness I've received, and I certainly know I can't finish.

Thank you.

11/3/14

Things to remember


Things I want to remember about the first few weeks of Baby's life:
  • The way his little chin wobbles when he's cold
  • The way it feels to snuggle up and take a nap together
  • That time we set him on my belly and wondered how in the world he fit in there just a few days ago
  • The fact that he can't seem to sneeze fewer than about six times
  • The way he gets the hiccups at least twice a day, just like he did before he was born

10/23/14

Baby


Baby came last week: 11 pounds and 22 inches. He's a big guy! He and I are both doing fine, but he has some lingering jaundice, as our other children have had. He's being treated with lights at home now.


After we put the big kids to bed a few nights ago, we discovered that Rapunzel is also undergoing jaundice treatment.

10/14/14

Load-a-day laundry



I am so impressed with myself that I've kept up with laundry for a whole week. I've never been able to make the load-a-day method work until now. While doing it for a week clearly doesn't make me an expert, I'm going to list what has been working for me, mostly for my own future reference:
  • Lower your standards. It's okay to mix whites and lights, or clothes and linens, to get a full load.
  • If you have half a load, find something else to make a full load: change the towels or sheets, or see if any coats or jackets could use a wash. Last week I washed all the gloves and scarves.
  • It's okay to wash a load that isn't quite full.
  • Start your load of laundry first thing in the morning.
  • Put in a load the night before (I recently discovered the delayed start function on my machine and I love it).
  • Do two loads some days if you must.
  • Make sure the kids are giving you their dirty clothes every day.
  • Put it away right away. No leaving it until tomorrow!
  • Enjoy putting away the laundry. (This is much easier when there's only one load.) Think about how blessed you are to have a family to do laundry for and clothes to wear and comfortable beds with clean sheets.

10/13/14

Goals


Last week I set some goals. The first goal was to enjoy the long weekend off school with the kids. It was a success! We had such a nice time together just enjoying each other, getting work done, and visiting the park as much as possible. I'm so glad I had that last little time with them before the baby comes. I know things will be great with the baby too, but it will be an adjustment. It has been so nice to take my kids to the park lately because they can take care of themselves while I relax on a bench. That will definitely change with a baby around!

My other goal is to keep up with the laundry and dishes until the baby comes—because I think it will make life easier for everyone. I was worried at first, but I am doing much better than I imagined. I have been totally caught up with laundry, and to get my load a day in, I have been changing beds and laundering sheets and towels. I've also kept up with the dishes. The secret is to unload the dishwasher as soon as possible after things are clean. Then there's a place to put the dirty dishes.

I've had more energy this past week: I hope it means the baby will make an appearance soon! But meanwhile, I'm running with it, and I've finished several items on my to-do list, including some Christmas shopping and packing hospital bags. There is still plenty to do though, especially cleaning I've neglected in my fatigue.

10/10/14

Sticky toffee cake

Photo by Tiger Lily

This cake is one of my favorites! It is simple and good, and I love the unique flavor and the sticky sauce. I'm starting to prefer cakes with poured toppings over iced cakes (lemon drizzle cake is another I like). This cake is perfect for fall.

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Sticky toffee cake
Adapted from Baking Day

Cake
1 cup chopped raisins
3/4 cup boiling water
5 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour (whole wheat is fine)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350°F and grease an 8" or 9" square pan. Bring water to a boil while you're chopping the raisins. Let raisins sit in boiling water for a few minutes.

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Add raisins and water. Stir in remaining ingredients. Turn batter into greased pan and bake 40–45 minutes.

Make sauce by simmering ingredients together for about 2 minutes. Poke cake with fork all over and pour sauce evenly over the top. Let cool at least a little before serving.

10/8/14

Turmeric


Turmeric is my new favorite in the kitchen. I started out just using it in curries, but lately I've added it to all sorts of things, like vegetable soup or cheese-based dishes. I like the yellow color that a bit of it gives, and it doesn't change the flavor much; it just adds a bit of warmth. People say it's supposed to be good for you. I can't lose, right?

Do you use turmeric? In what?