Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Twinkle in My Eye

I am borrowing the inspiration from my friend Sarah Hoffman to take the time to record the story surrounding the birth of my daughter, Naomi.

Daniel and I always said we wanted to be married for at least 2 years before we had kids, and when our second anniversary came and went, I started feeling "the itch". But it wasn't until a year ago Christmas that we sat down and had the talk. The talk that resulted in our saying that we were ready to be parents whenever God wanted us to be, but that we were just going to let things be. Not that we would be trying to start a family, we would just stop trying not to. Besides, if it took a long time to conceive, even years, possibly, then we wanted to be prepared for that. This was Christmas of 2009. In January 2010, we began our plan.

Two short months later: March of 2010, Daniel and I took our Concealed Carry gun safety class out in the boondocks in Oklahoma. I knew I was a few days past due for my period to start, and that whole day, it was all I could think about. In between the stories of the times it's good to have a gun concealed on your person, what to do if you get pulled over while you're carrying, how to load a derringer, what the law says about who can shoot whom, and when and where, all I was thinking was why hasn't my period started?

We both passed the class after each going through an entire box of ammo on the shooting range, and came home. The next day was a Sunday, and Daniel and I went to church as usual, came home, and laid down for a nap, also as usual. But I was just restless. The day before, I had told Daniel about my obsession about wondering if I was pregnant, and he had told me I should wait until I was a week late before taking a test. But I couldn't stop thinking about it. I told him, "I'm going to the store for a pregnancy test, just for peace of mind's sake. I'd like it if you'd come with me." He did. We went to Walmart, and picked up a few grocery items while we were at it. In line at the checkout, Daniel looked at our basket with pickles, peanut butter, chocolate, and a pregnancy test, and laughed that the cashier might look at our food and say we didn't need that test after all!

We got home, and I read the instructions three times, nervous as all get out. I didn't want to take any chances with the "mid-stream" option, so I chose the "swirl and dunk" cup method (using a disposable cup, of course). Daniel was right beside me, and distracted me the entire three minutes' exposure time. He timed it on his cell phone because, again, I didn't want to take any chances. Now, I had done the research and knew that, though false negatives were common (due to low amounts of the pregnancy hormone HCG), false positives were extremely rare. So when the second blue line showed up, I knew it was for real, at least, after triple-checking that two lines means "pregnant". We were both star struck. In awe. In between bouts of hysteria, of course. Life as we knew it was about to change drastically!

Now because of my health issues with Ulcerative Colitis, I was on medications that I knew needed me (and baby) to be monitored much more frequently than the typical pregnancy. I also knew something like 60% of miscarriages occur in the first trimester. So we waited until after the first trimester and after we'd had a couple of good doctor's appointments to tell anyone except my parents. They came to visit just a week and 1/2 after we'd found out, so we were able to tell them face to face, as well as get their help in praying for health and safety!

My parents and Grandma have long called me "Shelley Bean" and my super-skinny man "string bean", so the new one became our "bean sprout". I prayed for our baby constantly. The very first time I saw the heartbeat on that little screen, it took my breath away, despite the prodding of the condom-covered, KY-coated ultrasound wand. It was April 1st, and this little bean sprout was no joke!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Vegan Tuscan Soup

Just after I'd come home from the hospital with our daughter, we had many friends bless us with delicious meals. One in particular stood out, and it was Spicy Tuscan Soup. The recipe had come from the Pioneer Woman ( This friend, knowing I didn't eat red meat, substituted the sausage and bacon for non-spicy turkey varieties. It was SO good!

But this week, my family and I are participating in a fast based in the book of Daniel, which includes "no choice foods". For some of us, that means no meat, no sweets and no caffeine. For others, it means basically a vegan, no sugar, no leavening diet and nothing to drink but water or green tea. So I decided to try to adapt this recipe even further to attempt to make it vegan. It worked! I liked the new version, but thought that I could even leave out the Boca Burgers and still have a hearty soup. We all thought it was delicious either way, so I thought I should share my adaptation:

Vegan Tuscan Soup

  • 3 vegan Boca Burgers, Defrosted and Chopped (optional)
  • 1 whole Medium Red Onion, Diced
  • 3-4 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 3 whole Medium Potatoes
  • 1 quart Vegetarian Vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup Vegan Butter (I used Smart Balance)
  • 4-6 cups Fresh Baby Spinach, lightly shredded
  • ½ cup unsweetened Almond Milk
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste

Chop onion; add onion and olive oil to a large soup pot. Heat over medium heat and cook until onions are clear. Add minced garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Slice potatoes in half lengthwise and cut into 1/4″ slices. Add vegetable broth, vegan butter and potatoes to the soup pot and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until potatoes are almost done.
Defrost and chop vegan burgers, if using.
Lightly shred and add fresh spinach. Also add almond milk, salt, pepper and (optional) vegan burgers, and simmer for 5 more minutes. Let cool and serve with homemade tortilla chips.

Yummy Soup Leftovers!
Through this recipe (and from some of my Dad's culinary expertise), I learned that a "clove" of garlic is one of the buds from the whole, onion-like thing you get at the store. So the onion-like thing has SEVERAL cloves in it, and isn't a clove by itself. (There's probably a more technical term for that onion-like thing, but I don't know what it is.) Also, if you place the flat part of your cleaver on top of your clove of garlic, then hit it sharply with the heel of your other hand, the skin pretty much falls right off the clove. No peeling! It made for a much quicker mincing.
If you try this recipe, let me know! I hope you enjoy it!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

I flapped, I roared.

So, Daniel and I were invited to a mystery dinner party for our friend's birthday. The story was set in the 1920's, and we were to come in costume. My character's name was Jazzy Fringe, and I was a performer at a speakeasy (nightclub). Now, I have NO flapper costumes lying around in my closet, and since none of my pre-pregnancy clothes are yet fitting, my last resort was the thrift store. However, the local thrift store had no flapper costumes either, and I only had an hour or so to spend while Daniel watched Naomi at home. I had done some research online ahead of time and had a costume as my inspiration:

So I found an awesome pair of shoes ($4.98), a magician's costume ($1.98) and an XXL shirt that was somewhat sheer...

And I determined that I wanted to do the best I could to create a costume with as little sewing and as little effort as possible! Here's what I did:

Magician's costume: I cut the sleeves and collar off. I hiked up the skirt, letting it pleat naturally where it did. I cut a strip of fabric from the sleeve and used it to tie the skirt up that high just above the slit (cutting a hole in it to thread it through). I also cut strips of fabric from the sleeve to tie around the straps to give it a different look. This made up the underdress.

Big shirt: I cut the sleeves and collar off. I cut a slit from neck to navel, and then fringed the bottom. I tried it on over the underdress, and tied the sleeves to the underdress to give it a uniform look.

And the final result....

I completed the look with black tights, the shoes I got (I made shoelaces from the sleeve off the big shirt), a feather boa I happened to have, and some awesome jewelry I got for $1/item. Oh, and of course, lots of awesome flapper-era makeup. It was the bee's knees!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

My first "real" blog

      So this is my first "real" blog. I had a xanga once. In college. But I wasn't very good at posting often. I didn't feel like I had a whole lot to say. Now, I'm not saying that I've changed into this impressive wordsmith all of a sudden, but I do find that I'd like an outlet to share my creativity, musings and discoveries. I've named my blog, "The Pleasantest Things" after that poem by Robert Louis Stevenson about the swing, "How do you like to go up in a swing, Up in the air so blue? Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing, Ever a child can do!" As a child, my favorite piece of playground equipment was the swing, and this was my favorite poem. 
     So my blog will be about my life's "Pleasantest Things", which may include (but is not limited to) natural parenting, reading, crafts, cloth diapers, sewing, graphic design, music, making things, and anything else I may take an interest in. So for those of you who are interested, welcome to my life!