Friday, July 26, 2013

Six Things I Learned in July

In July, I learned...

1. What the "Silicon Valley" and the "Bay Area" are. Having lived in California for almost nine years, I've heard these terms a lot and thought I knew what they meant. It wasn't until I was up north for a college friend's wedding that it really clicked. "Oh my gosh. There's the San Francisco Bay, and the 'area' around it is the 'Bay Area!'" And "Oh my gosh. Look at all the tech companies and delicious sounding South Asian and East Asian restaurants! It's the Silicon Valley!" I get excited about these things. :)

2. That roadtripping with a baby is possible. Google maps told us that our trip to the Bay Area (I know what that means!) would take 5 hours and 50 minutes. Total time on the way there? 6.5 hours. Total time on the way back? 7.5 hours.

3. That the pregnant body used to be seen as unattractive, and women tried to conceal their baby bumps! This changed when Demi Moore posed very pregnant and very nude for Vanity Fair in the early '90s. Now, many women flaunt their bump by wearing clingy clothing, posting baby bump pictures to Facebook, and posing for maternity photo shoots. Two of my most popular blog posts are growing baby bump posts. Now, one photographer is trying to expand our culture's view of maternal beauty to include the post-pregnancy body, stretch marks, saggy skin, and all - a daunting challenge, I would say.

4. Why the word for one who follows Islam is "Muslim." Follow along...

  1. In Semitic languages (such as Arabic, Aramaic, and Hebrew), the root of a word is composed of consonants that carry a meaning. For example, s_l_m means "be at peace."
  2. Fill the empty slots with vowels to give the root word further meaning. For example, _a_i_a forms the third person "he" past tense.
  3. So fill in the blanks in s_l_m with _a_i_a and you get the word "salima" which means "he was at peace."
  4. Take it further. The word "Islam" also uses the root s_l_m, but modifies the root word with "i_ _a" which is the action of causing to be at peace. Similarly, "Muslim" means one who causes being at peace. "Salam" is the action of be at peace. All from the root word "s_l_m" which means "be at peace."
I love languages.

5. That not much happens on Facebook. I've been limiting myself to only going on Facebook twice per week, and I find that when I log on, there isn't all that much to see. Which begs the question, "Why do I feel compelled to check it all the time?"

6. That there may not be a limit to love. Every month, I think that I have reached the pinnacle of my feelings of affection towards my five month old, and I think, "Ah, this is the love of a mom for her child." Then, a few weeks pass and I find that my heart has expanded beyond what I thought was the limit.

Here she is...

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


"Who is going to, at the end of the day, look at me as my face gets older, as I age, as my body ages, and as I become obsolete? ... My husband and my children, the people that I've really connected with are going to still hold my face and look at me and see me."

~ Sara Groves commenting on the song Obsolete from her album Invisible Empires

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sweet Berry Bruschetta

When I decided to make Sweet Berry Bruschetta for my dear friend's going away party, I didn't realize that I would unintentionally convert my oven into a bonfire pit.

My dear friend, Ingrid, is moving to the Middle East next month, and I decided to bring Sweet Berry Bruschetta to her going away party.

Sweet Berry Bruschetta has become one of my favorite desserts. The crispy, sweet toast; rich, creamy schmear; and sour, juicy berries form a tantalizing trio in your mouth bite after bite. Best of all, as far as desserts go, it's quite simple to make, and it looks beautiful served on a big platter.

Yesterday, as I was broiling the little toasts for the dessert, I smelled burning and threw open the oven door to save the bruschetta only to discover the bowels of Mordor within my oven. (That reference was for you, Ingrid.) I quickly slammed the door shut and ran around the house throwing open every window hoping all the while that the fire would run out of oxygen and die on its own. The house filled with smoke setting off the smoke detector which in turn set off the napping baby. I ran back into the kitchen to see the status of my oven bonfire. There was black smoke pouring out of the back. As my poor kids frightened cries sounded through the baby monitor, I grabbed the nearest large towel which happened to be her hoodie bath towel, drenched it with water, opened the oven, and smothered the flames all the while muttering to myself, "Just be safe."

The fire died, I sighed, the smoke detector silenced, and my baby soothed herself back to sleep. With my confidence deflated, I asked Michael to come home early to make the little toasts for me. They, of course, came out flawlessly golden brown and made perfect Sweet Berry Bruschetta.

Now it's time for you to try your hand at Sweet Berry Bruschetta. Just be careful when you use your broiler. Like most recipes I post on this blog, these are really just guidelines with lots of wiggle room for creativity. Have at it and have fun!

  • French bread sliced into about twenty pieces
  • About fifteen ounces of cream cheese or Mascarpone
  • A few teaspoons of sugar
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
  • Two cups of sour berries (I did blackberries and raspberries)
  • A few tablespoons of powdered sugar
  • Mint leaves

For the toast:
  1. Arrange bread slices on a cookie sheet. Spray a light coat of cooking spray on them and toast them in the oven under the broiler for a few minutes until golden brown.
  2. Flip the bread, sprinkle them with about three teaspoons of sugar, and toast under the broiler for about a minute until they are golden brown, not until they are on fire!
  3. Set the toast aside to cool.
For the schmear:
  1. Mix the cream cheese or Mascarpone with sugar (about four teaspoons) and vanilla. (In place of vanilla, you could try lemon zest. I think that would be delicious, though I haven't tried it yet myself!)
  1. Just before serving, spread a generous amount of the cream cheese schmear on the little toasts. Top with berries. Garnish with mint. Dust with powdered sugar. (Alternatively: skip the mint and top with toasted slivered almonds and drizzle with chocolate syrup.)
  2. Eat immediately.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Adventures in Cloth Diapering

I've always been intrigued by cloth diapers because of the monetary savings, but I thought they must be way too much work! If it wasn't for a couple of friends sharing their experiences, Michael and I would have never realized how surprisingly simple and rewarding cloth diapering is. I want to share our experience in hopes that another parent or soon-to-be parent is inspired to do the same.

**Side note: If you use disposable diapers, please, please, please don't feel guilt tripped by this post! There simply isn't the time to pursue everything good in the world, so we have to pick and choose. Michael and I have simply picked cloth diapering to be one of the good things that we do.

Why cloth diapers?

They're good for your wallet. Although the exact number varies from source to source, everyone agrees that a child will burn through thousands of diapers before becoming potty trained. Taking care of your kids poop and pee can easily cost you a couple thousand, dollars.

Cloth diapers are cheaper. We spent a little over $300 on our diapers, special laundry detergent, and reusable diaper pail liners. Instead of baby wipes, we also use dampened baby washcloths and throw them in with the dirty diapers for washing and reusing. We hope to eventually have at least two kids, so we will be doubling or tripling (or quadrupling?!) our savings over the years.

They're good for the planet. Every disposable diaper requires a cup of crude oil to make and ultimately takes 500 years to decompose. Multiply that by thousands of diapers per kid and you've got a lot of negative environmental impact. I'm sure cloth diapers also require a lot of energy to make and take a while to decompose, but since you need less than twenty, the environmental impact is not nearly the same.

They're cute. Cloth diapers come in all sorts of fun patterns and colors. They're way cuter than disposables!

How much work are they? When you're caring for a diapered little one, time is a precious commodity. If cloth diapers created hours of extra work, I wouldn't have taken the plunge, but they're really not bad at all. Changing Grace's diapers takes a few extra seconds every time. Negligible, right? Every two or three days I wash her diapers which means dumping them all in the washer to go for a cold cycle to get the yuckies out and a hot cycle to get them clean. That takes just minutes of work. Once the washing is done, I hang them out to dry. This takes about five minutes.

The one thing that takes any notable time is restuffing them, and that takes about fifteen minutes, and I do it about three times per week. All in all, we invest about an hour or so of our time per week to save lots of money and a little bit of the planet.

**Edit: In an effort not to exaggerate, I overestimated how much time these things take. Line drying takes about two minutes. Re-stuffing the diapers takes less than ten minutes. Not bad at all!

If you're intrigued, check out this website for tons more helpful info. Or if you live in the Los Angeles area, I can give you an in-person tutorial.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Ten Things I Learned in June

Two of the bloggers that I follow have begun making lists of X things learned in Y month. So, I decided to try it out myself! Here are ten random lessons I learned in June.

1. Walks are more fun when you take a camera along.

2. Taking pictures is one of the easiest ways to insert a little creativity into my life. I want to do it more.

3. I can put things off for a really long time. I purchased a large photo frame shortly after getting married, and I just printed a wedding picture to put into it. Better four years late than never, right?

4. Photos look better printed than on a screen.

5. Costco is an amazing place to get prints. (Costco is an amazing place in general!) They're cheap, you can upload them online, and you can pick them up when you get your groceries and make your free sample rounds.

6. Making decisions with the prayerful support of friends is the way to go. Why do I try to fly solo so often?

7. Pregnancy weight takes forever to lose. And I am impatient.

8. 100 degree weather, drool, spit up, sweat, and the desire to put everything in her mouth makes for one sticky baby girl.

9. My favorite part of parenting, hands down, is is watching her grow and learn new skills all the time. I love watching my baby grow up!

10. Physics is fascinating. I am reading Hawking's "A Brief History of Time" and Michael and I have been watching Minute Physics before going to sleep. My nerdy, curious mind is satisfied. Though Schrodinger's Cat makes zippo sense to me, and I feel pretty unintelligent when I try to follow the logic.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...