29 October 2010


The Mirriam-Webster dictionary defines "serendipity" as "the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for . . . "

Quite a few of these have come my way lately, and I wanted to share:

One of my blog readers -- a woman who works with my sister and, I might add, whom I don't think I have every met personally (although she does leave great comments on my blog) -- gave me a darling plum-colored organic cotton onesie and matching thermal blanket for Grover.  I was so touched by her thoughtfulness and generosity in giving me a gift -- not to mention her color coordination with my blog! It's a special gift that I will treasure, and I know Grover will love how soft it is.  Thanks, Jocelyn.

On Monday, I was walking around Green Lake with my friend, Julie, who mentioned in passing that she was planning to sell her BOB baby stroller now that he daughter is four and a half.  My ears perked up because, not only are used BOBs difficult to find, used BOBs that have been carefully cared for and are in great condition and in a color you want are basically impossible to buy.  Anyway, Julie sold me her stroller with all the extras for a very reasonable price, and she generously threw in a handy stroller pedometer so that Grover and I can keep track of our miles. Although Grover may not be here yet, he already has pretty nice wheels thanks to Julie.

On Wednesday, I found myself downtown doing some errands on foot while my car was serviced at the dealership.  After I'd done everything I had to do, I did a little exploring and stumbled (not literally, don't worry) into the Melrose Market.  What a charming space filled with amazing food, flowers, and more.  (BTW, this is the building where Tamara Murphy is scheduled to soon open her new restaurant, Terra Plata.)  I was a bit hungry -- as always -- and decided to buy myself lunch at Sitka & Spruce, a restaurant I've wanted to try for some time.  They were serving "elevenses and lunch" when I arrived so I cosied up to the communal butcher block table/bar next to the kitchen to watch chef/owner Matthew Dillon and his team at work.  I ordered a green lentil, roasted parsnip, and MacIntosh apple salad.  Let me say that although theses are not ingredients I had ever eaten together before Wednesday, I will most definitely combine them again!  I ate every morsel. 

But the serendipity was not the food, it was the woman I sat next to at the communal table, Paula.  Initially we both said hello so as not to be rude.  Then she offered to share her giant plate of bread and butter with me and asked what brought me to the restaurant that day.  We struck up a really interesting and easy conversation, enjoying each other's company (and the food) for the next hour and a half.  Turns out she's traveled the world as an advertising executive, isn't working anymore due to a disability, has a daughter, is helping a friend with a photography project . . .   I left feeling like I'd made a new friend.  And who knows, I may have.

And then last night, my friend, Cathy, a sonographer, offered to scan me -- well actually, Grover -- just to see what he's looking like these days now that he's 31 weeks old.  Although he kept his little hand and one of his feel directly over his face for much of the evening, he did give us a few glimpses at what he looks like on the 3D ultrasound.  And, no surprise, I think he's pretty cute.  

It was a special treat to be scanned by a friend and get a glimpse at our little one.  He's certainly growing -- according to Cathy's measurements, he weighs five pounds and "has a large head."  Not sure I like the sound of that part . . . 

Any serendipities in your life these days?  Do tell.

25 October 2010

The baby's room

On Friday I spent some time finishing up the baby's room.  We have the glider cushions back from the upholstery shop and the paper lanterns are up.  And we have successfully transformed the salvaged dresser into a changing table with storage for diapers and baby bedding.  The closet contains two six-drawer towers of wire drawers that hold baby clothes, plus some shelving and hanging space.

I also have a few of the basics, including swaddling blankets, changing pads, diapers, and some baby clothes.  Technically, the room is occupant ready.  But considering I just finished 30 weeks of pregnancy, we hope that won't actually happen any time soon!

The nursery is orange and white, with bits of blue -- and birds.  The sheepskin rug helps to soften all the hard surfaces in the room. It feels wonderful under bare feet.
The fabric on the cushions is a Thomas Paul print that I found at Calico Corners.
A bouquet of dimly-lighted paper lanterns over the changing table/dresser brightens the corner up and any one of the lanterns can function as a night light if needed.
I lined the dresser drawers with owl wrapping paper.
The distressed blue book shelf belonged to my mom when she was a little girl, passed down to my sister and me, and now to Grover.  It's already filling up with books, thanks to generous friends.
The bird mobile above the Gulliver crib from Ikea adds color and movement to that side of the room.
Oggy, Grover, and I tried out the newly upholstered cushions.  Pretty comfortable.
Although we haven't finished putting hooks and art on the walls, all that will come in time.  For now, we're as ready as we need to be . . . and a little more.

20 October 2010

Funnest weekend ever

It's been a very long time since I had such a wonderful weekend.  My dear friend Jill came to town last Thursday night for a girls weekend filled with music, art, food, and good conversations.  I can't think of anything better!

We started Friday with a movie in the morning -- yes, the morning!  Went to see "Waiting for Superman," a film about education reform that we'd both heard a lot about and wanted to see.  Definitely worth seeing, and a great conversation starter.   Then we found hot pho for lunch since it was a chilly day.  Wandered around downtown a bit, then headed to the Picasso exhibit at SAM.  We'd seen the collection at the National Picasso Museum in Paris when we went in 2007, but you can never have too much Picasso!  I must say, I do love his goat sculpture.  Great art was followed by exquisite coffee, tea, and chocolate at Fran's in the Four Seasons.

Saturday started with good coffee, and then we walked around Green Lake on a perfect fall morning.  Took ourselves to "In the Heights" at the Fifth Avenue Theatre, and then to a leisurely dinner at "Lola." Everything was delicious -- kababs, Greek Salad, stuffed eggplant, numerous side dishes -- but, honestly, the most memorable part of the meal for me was the hot doughnuts with huckleberry jam and vanilla mascarpone.  What can I say?

On Sunday morning, the weekend got even better.  Two wonderful friends that I made in law school, Darcy and Bonnie (who flew out from D.C. for the weekend), together with my sister, Becky, gave me a baby shower.  This one-of-a-kind shower was a halloween-themed celebration for Grover and me, complete with marshmallow skulls on the cupcakes, pumpkin-shaped puff pastries, and trick-or-treat goodie bags for all.

I received such lovely gifts from those who came -- mostly friends from my law school and court of appeals days.  Grover now has quite a library of children's books.  Plus lots of other essentials and some cute clothes and blankets and hats.  After several hours of visiting, eating, and good conversation, I made it home with all my loot.  I left feeling super fortunate to have such a generous and caring group of friends.

After that, we managed to fit in a bit more eating at Gojo Ethiopian restaurant with Bonnie, Darcy and the boys (it's excellent, I should add).  Then it was home to beach ourselves (I speak only for myself, actually) on the couch to watch a movie.  To complete the baby-themed day, we watched the documentary "Babies."

Sadly, I had to deliver Jill to the airport Monday morning at 6:30 a.m.  I know Mark and Sadie missed her while she was here, but now I do too. Thanks for coming, Jill.

11 October 2010

A couple little problems solved

Pregnancy has been full of surprises and miraculous things.  It's also brought with it a few annoyances.  Most notable and worth complaining about:  the lack of soft cheeses and leg cramps.

Although the rest of the world may not know (or for that matter, think it's a good idea), pregnant women in the U.S. are advised to avoid unpasturized cheeses and most soft cheeses -- manchego, feta, brie, tallegio, blue, chevre, camembert . . .  and the list goes on.

Well, because I'm a bit of a rule follower, I've been abstaining from this entire wonderful food group.  What makes it worse is that now it's fall, which as we all know, is cheese platter season. This means I pretty much just get to eat cheddar and apples.  Not bad, I know.  But still.  When what you really want is a slab of good bread topped with some soft creamy cheese and fig compote or peach chutney, cheddar doesn't really do it for you.

Behold, my latest find!

Turns out, cream cheese is on the approved list for us pregnant folk.  And a couple weeks ago, when chef Tamara Murphy cooked at our house, she alerted me to this combination -- Organic Farmhouse Original Cream Cheese made by Sierra Nevada Cheese Company spread generously on a good baguette with Boat Street Pickled Raisins on top.  It's heavenly.

This cream cheese is not like any other you've had -- it's not gelatinous and flavorless, instead it has real cheese flavor, is slightly yellow in color (probably from the fresh milk used in making it) and almost has a chevre-like quality, despite being made with cow's milk.  (In the Seattle area, I found the cheese at Ken's Market on Phinney ridge.)  The pickles are a sweet/savory compliment to the creamy cheese.  It totally satisfies my desire for soft, creamy cheese. . . and I promise you, even the non pregnant will clamor for more.

In other news, I have also solved the problem of being suddenly awakened at 5 a.m. by searing cramps in my calf muscles.  I rarely experienced "charlie horses" before being pregnant so I had no idea how painful they could be, or how to reliably prevent them. Now that they are a more regular occurrence, I've become motivated to find a fix.  Hydration helps, but the key, I have recently learned, is plenty of electrolytes.

I'm not a big fan of Gatorade or Vitamin Water, which are good sources, so I've been looking for an alternative.  Last week, my massage therapist, Olivier, put me on to "U" -- a effervescent tablet that provides vitamins and electrolytes when dissolved in regular water.  Plus, it tastes good and isn't very sweet (and has only 27 calories).  It's sweetened with stevia, which is reportedly safe for pregnant women.  The tablets come in tubes of 16 and in a variety of flavors.  I found mine at PCC.
I am pleased to report that I've had no leg cramps since beginning my new electrolyte regimen.  Scientific proof, I tell you.

09 October 2010

All consuming

I haven't been posting much lately, but for good reason. I've been sucked into the home renovation black hole.  In ten words: we are tired of it and just plain tired, too.

When I look back at this year so far, we've been in full-on home improvement/home renovation mode since the beginning of February when we decided to sell the little yellow house.  That's eight months and counting. 

We have a major deadline -- we're planning to move the father-in-law into our downstairs during the third week of November.  Obviously, that means we have to have it in livable condition by then.

Here's what we've been up to since demolition:
  • First things first.  We bought steel-toe work boots and canvas Dickies (real work pants) for the renovator-in-chief. 

  • Thanks to Byron's plumbing abilities, we have new water pipes for all the hot and cold water in the house.  He used PEX to re-pipe the house.  The disgusting part was discovering the thick layer of grunge and slime that was inside the galvanized steel pipes that Byron removed.  Luckily, we had been filtering all our drinking water.  But still . . .
  • In addition, we are now the proud owners of a new and expanded electrical panel serving the house. This will allow us to add the circuits and light fixtures we need for the downstairs. 
  • We've taken many of the appliances out of the upstairs kitchen, replaced them with others, and will reuse the older ones in a downstairs kitchenette.  Part of this process included adding natural gas to the upstairs kitchen, moving the hot water heater, and putting a hookup for a gas insert fireplace in the downstairs fire box.
  • Added new shelving and a pantry in the upstairs kitchen.
  • Cleaned the chimneys and installed a flue cap on the roof.  Had our first fire in the fireplace this week.
  • Added a wall of shelving to the upstairs living room for media and books.  (While not technically a renovation, we must have our books at the ready just to cope!)
  • Finished painting and trimming out the baby's room.  The nursery isn't ready, but getting closer.
  • Built a raised bed in the garden--the dahlia bulbs had to be planted.  It was that or certain death.

  • Byron is rewiring the entire downstairs for light, power, and sound--including dedicated circuits for appliances. I think by the end of this weekend, we'll be ready for the rough-in electrical inspection.
  • Hired an engineer to figure out how to remove part of a load-bearing wall in the downstairs and add a post and beam.
On the agenda for the next 10 days:
  • Adding water and waste hook ups for a downstairs kitchen sink, replacing the downstairs shower with a bathtub, and adding hookups for a washer and dryer upstairs.