Sunday, July 31, 2011

All is Well

First I want to thank you all for your positive thoughts and prayers...they worked!

It was quite a day we had on Friday. We decided to cancel the birth course we had signed up for and to go to the hospital instead. Neither of us could have sat and concentrated with the worry we were feeling about a possible pre-term labor.

I packed a bag in case they kept me at the hospital, and wondered if I would really have to stay there, not seeing the dogs, away from home, away from my husband. That thought alone was torture.

We drove to the hospital, where I was hooked up to the CTG machine and had an ultrasound done. Those long moments when you are waiting to hear news, when you are waiting in the hall with strangers...I don't think I could ever warm up to hospitals. Although, I have to add, the doctors we had were extremely friendly.

In the end, everything came out very positive. Yes, Rafael is digging his head deep down into my pelvis, causing pain and some uncomfortable contractions, but the good news is that the midwife was wrong about my cervix being partially effaced. The doctor determined, per ultrasound, that my uterus is extremely tilted to the back, which resulted in the midwife believing that the cervix had prematurely shortened.

Amidst all the worry and relief, we got to see our son on the ultrasound screen, sucking his thumb as usual. He is doing so well, growing at the perfect pace, with long legs like his daddy. What an absolute joy it is to be reassured that he is happy and healthy! And hopefully staying inside for a while longer.

Even after hearing all the good news, I couldn't really calm down for a while. I was only able to release my fears and breath once we got back home, where the dogs were waiting with wagging tails, and everything looked different and simple because we were happy. We spent the evening giving each other spontaneous hugs, sighing with relief, eating big portions of pasta (we both hadn't been able to eat all day because of our nerves and were suddenly hit with huge appetites). We marveled again and again how amazing it is when you are given the relief of good news, how the simplest things like being at home and sharing a meal can feel like absolute heavenly luxury.

Thank you all again for your concern and your love! I really really appreciate you!!

Friday, July 29, 2011

I'm On Bed Rest

Hello my dear ones!

I've been feeling strange for the past few days: strong pelvic pressure, contractions, lower back pain, and just generally feeling 'weird.' But I didn't want to overreact.

However, after a particularly hard night of strong contractions, I decided I needed to get checked out. Something wasn't feeling right. My midwife is on vacation right now so I called her replacement and she came over right away.

It turns out my cervix is partially effaced and I am having pre-term labor symptoms. She checked the baby's heart beat and position; he is lying with his head deep down in my pelvis, in birth position, and his heart beat is fine.

She told me that we should try to keep him in at least another 2 weeks; at 35 weeks a baby can be born without any complications and even sent home pretty much right away. Hopefully he will stay in longer than that. We'll see.

She prescribed me magnesium to stop or at least lessen the contractions, and I've been put on bed rest (no more walking the doggies or going grocery shopping...luckily I have the help of my mother in law!).

Please keep my little one in your prayers. I can feel that he is alright, and I am positive that, even if things go differently than expected, we will all be OK.

I'll keep you posted.

Lots of love!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Late July





Fresh organic watermelon juice, ice, and wild mint in a mason jar. The first hay fields cut under a big hazy sky. Tattered little vintage books. Roses wrapped in brown paper. That's late July.

The sun is shining today and dragonflies are everywhere, drying their wings I guess. Swallows are flying high again...they swoop down low when it's going to rain, and soar high up in the great wide blue when the weather is fare. Old fashioned weather forecasters. On grey days they fly so low that their wing tips skim the wheat fields.

My belly has hard spots all over. A knee? An arm? A foot? I rub, press, and guess. I've been pregnant so long now that I think this boy will never come, and will just stay in there, making me wonder which little body part he is pressing up against my hand. He likes it when I take bubble baths, which I do almost daily now to relieve my back and feet. He rolls and squirms when I squeeze the loofa over my belly. I think he likes the sound of the water.

I stumbled upon photos of Boston's first day with us today, taken about a year ago, and marveled at how brave little puppies are, leaving their familiar surroundings, their siblings, and their mother...taking the long journey to a new home, with unfamiliar smells and strangers.


I looked at the expression on his face and thought of how is little body trembled in my lap during the car ride home, and my heart broke all over again for him, knowing it must have been so scary. I glanced over at him, all confident and grown up now, sleeping soundly on a blanket with Kiki stretched out next to him, and was glad that he was with us...people (and a dog) who love him. A new family.

Now there is another new member of the family on the way. Helpless, dependent, putting all his trust into us to take care of him and hold him when he is afraid of how big this world is. He is counting on us to be his family, to be there for him, to not hold it against him that he is so fragile and needy, and to not be frustrated with him when he needs our help all hours of the day. To not be impatient with him while he learns the ways of this world, and gets to know the difference between day and night. To smile at him, kiss him, bath him, feed him, and comfort him.

Such an amazing journey ahead of us all....

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My Kitchen (and me) Are Being Featured on Cheeseslave Today!


Cheeseslave is a fantastic blog about REAL FOOD. Real food means what it says...real butter, raw milk, organic meats and produce, traditional cooking....food that nourishes. Nothing that says 'light' and nothing that has been processed to resemble something 'like' real food. Eating the way your healthy, robust, cancer-free, heart-disease-free ancestors did. As most of you must know by now, that's the way we've been eating since reading Sally Fallon's book Nourishing Traditions.

Ann Marie from Cheeseslave likes to share the kitchens of fellow real food enthusiasts once in a while, and I'm so happy she has chosen mine to be featured today!

Hop on over HERE to have a look if you're curious! I hope you will not only enjoy having a peek at my kitchen, but that you will stick around and browse the awesome recipes and fascinating information that fills Ann Marie's blog.

Latest Treasury Collection

It's been raining, raining, raining. So besides walking the dogs and running errands, I am at home, cleaning, napping, and surfing the web (aaaah, the luxuries of being lazy in your third trimester!). I've been having some fun putting together etsy treasuries, collections of handmade and vintage items that I find beautiful or intriguing. 

I'm happy to say that the vast majority of gifts and baby items I've purchased over the past year have been through etsy. When I'm looking to buy something, whether it be a baby blanket or a birthday gift, my first move is to go onto etsy and see what I can find there. There are so many unique, marvelous, interesting, and even reasonably priced items. I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again: Buy handmade! It's so awesome to support people in their craft. Your dollars go to an individual and support their dream of being a self-employed artist or crafter. It's such a rewarding experience for everyone involved.

OK, enough etsy praise. Here are some really wonderful things waiting to be admired and, hopefully, bought.

Click HERE to view and buy from this treasury.


Click HERE to view and buy from this treasury.


Click HERE to view and buy from this treasury.


Click HERE to view and buy from this treasury.

Thank you all so much for your feedback on getting Boston operated. I was really relieved to read so many messages in support of our decision. I'm making an appointment today!

Monday, July 25, 2011

32 Weeks



How far along? 32 weeks, 1 day. 

Total weight gain: About 20 pounds.

How big is baby? A little over 4 pounds.

Sleep: I can't believe it, but I am now a snorer. Ramon has had to wake me up a few times to get me to stop. I really hope it goes away once Raffi is born!

Best moment this week: Napping with the dogs on the couch, feeling Rafael move.

Movement: Extreme. He moves most in the afternoon and evening. This week I experienced pain sometimes when he moved, feeling like he was grinding down on my bladder and pelvis. 

Food cravings: My appetite is really poor right now, and at times I feel nauseous. Fruit now tends to give me acid reflux. I'm sticking mostly to toast and milk. 

Belly button in or out? Flat.

What I miss: Walking without getting out of breath and not feeling nauseous.

What I'm looking forward to: We have our birth preparation course this Friday and Saturday. I am looking forward to taking those and feeling prepared for birth and the first weeks with the baby.

Milestone: My shirts officially don't cover my belly anymore and I have to wear belly bands. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Hard Decision About Boston


Boston is the most affectionate, cuddly dog I have ever met. He is so incredibly sweet and loving, and has really won my heart since joining our family a year ago.

But lately, for some reason, he has begun peeing (marking) inside the house every day. Every day I will find a little puddle on a door, a corner, the fridge, or a blanket. And once, when I left the door to Rafael's nursery open, he went in there and peed on three things, luckily all things I could wash.

Before we even brought Boston home last August, we had decided he would be neutered. When the time came and I made an appointment for the operation, my in-laws got very upset, and insisted that we not neuter him. They were convinced that neutering would change his personality and make him depressed. They were so insistent, and we didn't have any problems with Boston as far as aggression or marking, so we thought we'll just leave him be.

Not only has he been marking, though...he also gave me a heart attack the other day chasing a girl dog towards the street, me screaming his name at the top of my lungs, and him only turning around at the last second. He also pulls on his leash really hard whenever there is another dog in sight, which I just can't imagine dealing with once I am pushing a stroller with one hand and holding the dogs on the their leashes in the other.

So all of this has led us to the decision to have him operated after all. I've read up on the subject, and it seems that his personality will not change, besides him being more calm about female dogs and marking less (or stopping completely).

We'll just get it done, and maybe one day my in-laws will notice that something missing. Then again, maybe they won't!

It's a hard decision, but I think we are making the right one.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Farmers Market in July






"If the rain spoils our picnic, but saves the farmer's crop, who are we to say it shouldn't rain?"
-Tom Barrett


Sunflowers and tiny apples; such beautiful things are the farmer's market this July day. Luckily I went early before it began to rain again. (Yes, it's raining again today, and I know people are complaining, but I find it refreshing. It's not fun to walk the dogs or run errands in the rain, but for the most part, I love it.)

The American who sells flowers put together a lovely bundle of sunflowers, wildflowers, and grasses for me. We always enjoy a chat in english. Then I filled a bag with those adorable, rosy little apples that the old organic farmer has no name for besides 'summer apples.' You could eat them in a single bite if you didn't mind seeds and stems. They taste mildly sweet and have bright white flesh. I don't know what I'll do with them yet; they are almost too cute to eat. Now they are in the hand-carved wooden bowl in the living room, and I wish they would always stay just how they are today.

I am sleeping so much these days. Any chance I get. Normally I wouldn't be able to sleep at night if I took a nap in the day, but there's no problem with that now. It's amazing what a woman's body is capable of. When I feel Rafael moving I think about how we are connected, physically connected, by the umbilical cord and the placenta, and that I have nurtured him from the size of a poppy seed to now, the size of a pineapple. It's all too miraculous to comprehend.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Thoughts on a Stormy Day



It's a cold and windy day. Clocks tick louder on days like these, in the quiet of the home, and this sweatshirt feels so soft and comforting. The dogs are sleeping on the couch while the wind rages outside, and I wonder if it will rain.

I just watched this video and it made me think about the new journey waiting for me: Motherhood. Because this woman's challenges are so much greater and more profound than mine, and on top of it all, she is also a mother. Sometimes I get caught up in worrying about whether or not I will be up for the challenge, and I sometimes lose myself in fretting about small details. When really, in my heart, I know that this will be the most meaningful and wonderful thing I will ever do.

Sometimes other people's bitterness gets under my skin, and I start thinking like they do, start thinking that life is ordinary with spats of hardship. But that's not really me, and not how I want to think or see things or live.

I want to live each day fully aware and grateful for all of my blessings. I want to live consciously, full of optimism and steady faith. I want to find humor in things, to laugh a lot, to not get consumed by my emotions, even when I am totally overwhelmed, because of my firm conviction that it will pass.

I want to be someone who gives (even if it's just a smile, a hug, or a kind word); who creates; who takes the time to listen and understand. I want to be a mother who cherishes each day with her child, who exists in full awareness of the passing of time and the immense worth of the moment. I don't want to complain. I don't want, for a second, to confuse the simplicity and daily rhythms of my life with banality or staleness. I want to be grateful for every day where I have the love and support of my husband, the miracle of my child, the company of my dogs, the warmth of my home, and the blessing of my purpose.

And I want to remember that my purpose as a wife and mother, though it may seem dull to someone else, is very special, and should be pursued with enthusiasm, joy, and gratitude.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Still Such Good Friends


"Fay and Julie Hancock have been married sixty years and are still such good friends that Fay frames Julie's button collections, and at an auction recently paid $4.50 for another toothpick holder for her collection that has already spread over the end of the dining room like ivy across an old church wall. And Julie willingly gave up the whole basement to the fifty-two miniatures Fay has made, duplicating horse-drawn vehicles and farm implements he remembers from boyhood and early farm life."
-Rachel Peden, Speak To The Earth: Pages From A Farmwife's Journal


So happy that my best friend, my husband, is back home.

And also: there has been a break in the heat! I woke up in the night to the refreshing sound of rain. It's overcast today, and the perfect temperature. Everything is washed clean and glistening. This cool weather is such a welcome relief.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

31 Weeks



I feel like my belly has definitely expanded this past week, even though the midwife said she thought it wouldn't. It also feels heavier when I walk! The funny thing is that I lost 1 kilo, I'm guessing in water, because I've been eating so much fruit (it's hard to eat anything else in this heat).

This morning Rafael woke me up moving around wildly, so much so that I had to laugh out loud. It's beautiful sharing my body with him, being this close. I am truly never alone!

Ramon is coming back home tonight. I am so relieved! I can't sleep well without him, and it's just not the same without our mornings, evenings, and weekends together, when we make each other laugh and talk about all the random things on our minds. There is definitely a reason why we are married. Many reasons, actually.

Here's the latest pregnancy update:

How far along? 31 weeks.

Total weight gain: 19 pounds, lost a little under 2 this past week.

How big is baby? 4 pounds.

Sleep: Awful nightmares every night. I'm chalking that up to my husband being gone, and the full moon.

Best moment this week: Playing with Rafael's feet. I would press them and then he would kick back at me. It really felt like some sort of communication!

Movement: He has some pretty wild moments once in a while now, where my whole belly trembles and jumps. 

Food cravings: Peaches peaches peaches, apricots, topfen, brown bread with herb cream cheese spread, caprese salad, green olives stuffed with garlic.

Belly button in or out? In.

What I miss: Not having swollen, sore feet.

What I'm looking forward to: August. July seems to be stretching out endlessly.

Milestone: I leaked colostrum yesterday! This made me so happy. It's great to know that everything is working, and that my body is already preparing to feed and nurture this little boy.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Firsts of Things



The American who sells flowers at the farmer's market every Friday had the first sunflowers this week. I bought seven, wrapped in newspaper and heavy in my arms, and now they stand, sunny and tall, on the dining table. I love the firsts of things....the first sunflowers, the first colorful heirloom tomatoes, the first pumpkins, the first chill in the air that makes you put on the first sweater of the season. The first snow. I'm getting ahead of myself now.

While I long for cool autumn days and the birth of my son, I know I should instead be enjoying the moment and taking advantage of these final weeks of independence. Some mothers give the advice, "Go on dates with your husband; go to the movies. Take long baths and sleep as much as you can. Meet friends at the cafè. Read books." All things they claim will be impossible once your first baby is born. So I'm trying to do those things.

When my husband's cousin was in her final month, she started getting antsy, and I kept saying all those things that people say, like how she should enjoy her last month of freedom. But now I'm eating my words, and I'm not even in the final month yet. I didn't think I would be an impatient pregnant woman. It's taken me by surprise how time seems to be going at a snail's pace, how this summer seems like one endless stretch of heat!

I stare at Rafael's ultrasound picture, his sweet profile where you can see his tiny nose and lips, and I just keep wondering what it will be like to see his face for the first time. Will it be instant recognition? Will I fall in love? Will I cry and think he's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Waiting





"Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability."
-Sam Keen

These days are a strange mix of extreme heat and sudden rain showers. I don't know if you can call it laziness, but I am definitely slow and somewhat lethargic. I could sleep for hours under the ceiling fan while the heat scorches the streets outside. I feel like I am waiting...waiting for these hot days to pass, for my husband to come home, for these final months of pregnancy to come to an end. It's strange, standing on the precipice of such a new chapter in life, but having no control over when it begins. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Summer Is A Gourmet


"Summer is a gourmet. Where winter must eat to live, to refuel against the cold, summer may, like a hummingbird, flit lightly from taste to delicious taste." -Barbara Webster, The Green Year


Peaches (raw), apricots (boiled down into sticky jam), plums (baked into buttery cakes).....I am reveling in the tastes of summer fruit. 


I found wild raspberries next to the forest path, so small and seedy compared to the ones you buy at the store. There are only enough to pause and eat them there on the spot. But really I like to leave them for the birds and mice. 

This morning, after a quick, powerful rain, the path through the woods was strewn with little branches, tiny wild cherries, and yellow leaves. The wind came in strong gusts, so very welcome in this heat. Boston followed sounds and smells up and down the wooded hillside while Kiki patrolled patches of sunlight, because that's where the white moths play that she loves to chase. Her whole body wags and her eyes search the ground and the bushes while she waits. In summer she's a butterfly chaser; in fall she's a leaf chaser; in winter she's a snow and ice roller; and in spring she's a puddle wader.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

30 Weeks



This past Sunday marked 30 weeks. At this point pregnancy has lost most of its wonder and is just feeling like my natural state. Though when Rafael moves it still amazes me, and I am reminded that this won't go on forever....some day soon, he will be here, and everything will be different! 

I'm still taking long walks in the morning with the dogs (before it gets too hot at noon), and am determined to keep it up until the baby comes. Even though I am getting slower and slower, I put one foot in front of the other, and just don't give up. So to get to the same spot in the woods takes longer, but at least I make it there. And then I always feel good about myself, and feel that my midday nap is well deserved. 

When my midwife made a house visit last week she noted, while poking around at my belly, that my uterus had stretched ahead, leaving Rafael with plenty of growing space. So my belly may not expand much more at all during the remainder of this pregnancy. I'm hoping this means I have managed to avoid getting stretch marks!

Here's the latest pregnancy update:

How far along? 30 weeks and 3 days.

Total weight gain: 19 pounds.

How big is baby? Almost 4 pounds.

Sleep? Nights have been really hot. I'm so glad we have a ceiling fan! I've been sleeping with one pillow under my head, one pillow hugged under my arm, and one pillow sandwiched between my legs.

Best moment this week? Going swimming with my mother in law in her friend's pool. Surrounded by lavender and fruit trees, totally private....feeling weightless in the water.

Movement? His movement is now very noticeable from the outside. Some positions are actually uncomfortable. But if I massage him, he'll eventually change positions. 

Food cravings? Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, milk, peaches and raspberries, and caesar salad with homemade (egg and anchovy free) dressing.

Belly button in or out? Still in, but extremely flat.

What I miss: Being agile. I never thought I would be one of those clumsy pregnant ladies who waddle around and complain about their back and feet, but guess what, I am! I've always loved sitting on the floor to play with the dogs, but now it's uncomfortable and very difficult to get back up. And the arches of my feet are so tender! 

What I'm looking forward to: My nap. Honestly, I just want to sleep all day, and avoid the heat.

Milestone: Rafael now opens his eyes when he is awake. 


Ramon left on another business trip today, so it's me, Raffi, and the doggies until Monday.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Meeting New People


On Saturday, there was a BBQ for us and all of our neighbors. As the flyer in the hallway stated, we should get to know each other instead of just bumping into each other in the hall or while taking out the garbage. Everyone brought something along; I brought potato salad and these vanilla cupcakes.

Honestly, Ramon and I aren't the most social people when it comes to, well, meeting new people. We love our friends and enjoy talking for hours with them. But there is something about the small talk involved with meeting new people that we both don't enjoy very much. What do you do for a living, how long have you been together, when's the baby due, how did you end up in Austria....this line of questions tends to feel exhausting and boring to me. And out of the millions of people on this planet, there's only a handful that you really truly connect with and want to spend your time with (which makes that handful very precious).

But of course we went to the BBQ, not wanting to be the odd neighbors who didn't show up. And it wasn't half bad. Mostly we talked with a young couple who also have a dog and who are very nice. Ramon and I joke a lot about being on the search for a new 'go-to-couple' ever since our best friends split up. It's not easy to find a couple that we both click with, with the same or similar likes and dislikes, hobbies, taste in movies and food, and most important, sense of humor. So we're always hopeful when we meet a new pleasant couple.

Mostly people wanted to know about the pregnancy, and to tell me their pregnancy stories and about how our lives are going to change dramatically (at which point I always feel like saying "Really? I had no idea!"). It's funny; when you're pregnant, it's pretty much the only thing people talk about with you, and they feel very obliged to giving lots of parenting advice, even when you didn't ask for it. You learn to nod along even if you don't agree with it, and most of it is just a repetition of what a dozen other people have already said. I don't mind it much; but I'll admit that I don't like the comments along the lines of, "Get your sleep now, you won't be getting any soon enough," "Make sure to put cream on your belly or you'll get stretch marks," or "A boy? Boys are a handful!" The comment I get most frequently, though, is, "Due in September? Oh my goodness, you've picked the worst time to be pregnant. In this heat!" Yes. It's hot. Sometimes too hot. But I'll survive, and I am just so happy and grateful to be pregnant at all!

What I do appreciate are comments such as, "How wonderful! You will experience a love like none other before it!" But curiously, comments like that are pretty rare.

I didn't know how much I liked being left alone by strangers until I got Kiki. When you have a puppy, or a dog for that matter, strangers seem to take this as an invitation to strike up a conversation with you. It's the same thing with pregnancy. And in both cases, people have plenty of unsolicited advice. So getting Kiki prepared me somewhat for the onslaught of questions, comments, and advice that comes with expecting a child.

And it's all in preparation for how it will be when I am pushing Rafael in a stroller. I am not naive to the fact that there is plenty of advice and small talk waiting for first-time mothers.

P.S. The cupcakes I made were absolutely delicious. They tasted like they were from a bakery! I doubled THIS cupcake recipe, but only made the single portion of frosting, which I found was plenty for 24 cupcakes.

Monday, July 11, 2011

High Summer





This weekend was incredibly hot, and in the evenings the heat churned up wild, loud, cracking storms that lit up the night sky with lightening, shook homes with thunder, and sent down sheets of rain. These storms only lasted about an hour. The dogs were wide-eyed and quiet, looking at us to see if we knew what all that racket was, if we thought everything was alright or if the world was coming to an end. The warm mornings were somewhat refreshed from the rain, though it's still been impossible to feel anything but sticky these past few days. 

We watched the Kill Bill movies, and True Grit. Spent hours and hours discussing ideas to pitch to Palmers for their next ad campaign. Ramon showed me some new things in Photoshop (I love it when he teaches me things). I baked up vanilla cupcakes for the neighborhood BBQ, complete with buttercream frosting and sprinkles. And we took slow walks in the forest, wading through the thick heat, sweat trickling down our backs, the dogs stopping at what seemed like every puddle to drink and cool off their paws.

Now it's Monday morning. The dishwasher is sloshing around and the washing machine has a load of darks turning in bubbly circles. I love the sounds of those domestic machines. They are the sounds of home and of getting-stuff-done. On Monday mornings this place always looks like a train-wreck, but I've got it pristine by noon. Monday cleaning is a favorite of mine; the improvement is always obvious and appreciated. 

Oh, the silly little things that make a homemaker's heart sing.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Early Morning







The deck is finally finished in our small backyard. It took longer and was more expensive than originally estimated, but we've agreed that it was worth it. Yesterday evening, when the carpenters packed up the last of their tools, collected their money, and left me with this clean expanse of fresh wood, I felt relief sweep over me. There is something very exhausting about having workers at home.

Last night I slept better than I have in a long time, and awoke refreshed at 5:30. Ramon woke up too, and after talking about our dreams and cracking a few jokes we decided we wouldn't be able to go back to sleep. So we started our day early instead.

After a lovely breakfast with the usual eggs, bacon, fruit, and toast, Ramon showered and left for work. I took a blanket out to our new wooden deck and the dogs followed me.

The air was fresh and there was the perfect wind blowing through the trees lining the banks of the river which hugs our apartment. Dragonflies dipped over the running water and a woodpecker hammered on a dead limb. The dogs sat with me on the bench and it appeared they were feeling the peace and tranquility of the morning, too. They sniffed the air and we watched leaves and insects fly on the wind. As always I was grateful to have these two little souls to share the moment with.

We stumbled on video footage of Boston and Kiki last night, from the days when Boston was a puppy. It was incredible to see him, so tiny next to Kiki. So clumsy, with a pink hairless belly and sharp little needle teeth. I remembered being frustrated sometimes because he peed on the floor and didn't understand commands yet. But now all of that seemed like a drop in the bucket of time. It was a lesson for me to not get too overwhelmed by moments of frustration with baby Rafael when he is here. With dirty diapers and crying and frequent feedings. One day he'll be a big boy telling me not to hug him in front of his friends, and all that will be so far away and almost forgotten. Or at the very least unimportant. So when I am on the verge of tears and feel like my life will forever revolve around baby poop and scarce sleep, I will really try to remember: this too shall pass.

Now I'm sitting out here on the deck again, having showered, cleaned the apartment, and walked the dogs. Rafael is very active today, making my belly roll and jump and slope to one side. Sometimes I am overcome with impatience, just wanting to be able to hold him and study his face. But I know these last two months will soar by, and he will be in my arms soon enough.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Simplify.


This morning as I was puttering around the kitchen, I thought about the journal I used to keep in my old mac book. I would begin each entry with an inspiring or touching quote, and would then write about my thoughts, the weather, the seasonal changes in nature, Kiki, marriage, hopes, and dreams.

With this new lap top, I haven't been keeping a journal. And I wondered to myself, why isn't my blog more like a journal? Is it because I don't want to be too personal? But haven't I shared very personal things? Yes. But I also quickly got caught up in this blogger state of mind, where you write things that you hope your readers will be interested in to keep them coming back. Where you advertise your shops. Where you link to this and link to that.

But why?

Why is that important?

Not to say that YOU, dear reader, are not important. Because you really, truly are! I have found support, inspiration, friendship, and love within the notes you leave me here. As many bloggers will confirm, it's amazing how much community one finds when blogging.

Still, I was thinking about those old journal entries....how simple and sincere they were. Sometimes I just wrote about the fog, how much I loved the rain on the window, how the smell of cinnamon was filling the kitchen while I baked, how Kiki and I had stumbled upon a cluster of mushrooms in the forest. Stuff so mundane that they probably wouldn't be interesting to anyone but myself.

Could I blog about those things? And not care if anyone else cared?

I logged onto this blog and was immediately overwhelmed by the sidebar; so many pictures, so many links, so much information. I realized, if I wanted this place to feel personal, I needed to SIMPLIFY. I needed to strip it down to a minimum, and make it feel like a very pure place where I simply shared my thoughts and photographs. Whatever was on my mind. Without hoping to interest anyone.

Recently I read a quote that went something like: I just want to create stuff, even if no one cares.

And I LOVE that incentive! I just want to write stuff, even if no one cares!

So, this is my 'new' blog. Or as I hope it will be from now on, simply My Journal.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Homemade Apricot Jam


A big crate of sunny, glowing apricots....once you've eaten your fill of fresh fruits (and we have!), you turn to freezing and canning. Saving up some of that sunshine for the colder days.


Measure out 1 1/2 kilos of fruit (3 pounds), pit and cut them, and cook with 500 grams (1 pound) of Jelly Sugar for about 10 minutes. Be sure to stir once in a while so the fruit doesn't burn.


Disinfect your canning jars....I do this by simply washing them (and their tops) in the dishwasher and removing them with tongs while they are still hot.

I cut the skinny bottom part off of my funnel so that it would have a spout wide enough for pieces of fruit to slide through. This makes filling the glass jars without spilling so much easier!

Fill the jars with your jam when it's piping hot, screw the lid shut, and then turn the jars over to seal them.

Once your jars of sunshine have cooled to room temperature, you can turn them right-side-up, label them, and fit them with bonnets of vintage fabric and twine.


Give generously to friends and they will think loving thoughts of you every time they spread their toast.

There are few things which are both so easy and so satisfying to make as jam.

xoxo country girl

Monday, July 4, 2011

German Cherry Cake


Happy 4th of July, everyone!

July is absolutely overflowing with bounty. Apricots, heirloom tomatoes, corn, peaches, melons, blueberries...and cherries!

I bought a big box of them at the market, ate about 1/3 fresh, froze another third, and used the final third for this buttery German cherry cake.


Pitting the cherries wasn't as time-consuming or annoying as I thought it would be. I simply removed the stems, cut X's into the bottom, and used the tip of the knife to dig out the pit.


It's an old German recipe in grams and with very non-specific instructions and measurements, so it would be very hard to translate it to cups (it includes, for example, "1/2 a package of baking powder"....so how much is that in teaspoons?). So unfortunately I can't share the recipe. But I'm sure you can make a lovely sponge cake batter, throw pitted cherries over it willy-nilly, and come out with about the same result!


Today the supermarket was an absolute joy; organic string beans, corn on the cob, spring potatoes with the thinnest papery skin, heirloom tomatoes and peppers in all colors and shapes. Tonight for dinner we'll have heirloom tomato caprese with buffalo mozzarella, buttered string beans, and chicken breast with lemon and rosemary. 

I love the Summer kitchen!

xoxo country girl

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