Saturday, August 30, 2008

Moina Corn! Moina do it!

The Ericsons came up for a visit and had dinner with us last night. Moina* - er, I mean Moira - a was very excited about the corn we picked from the garden, in fact after we had picked it she insisted on carrying an ear with her on our pre-dinner walk. So cute! After our walk she helped me "open" the corn.
This is the first corn I've harvested from the garden this year, we will probably have just one more picking - I only put in one short row. But it sure was tasty! Moira wanted to eat it before we cooked it, it took quite a bit of convincing to get her to let me have ALL the corn for the cooking pot. A couple ears got nibbled raw, but they cooked up nicely just the same.

Everyone agreed the corn was delicious, you just can't beat it fresh from the garden, young & tender. Moira ate two ears!

*Moina is how Moira pronounces her own name these days. More than once I found myself slipping into using her pronounciation. :)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Baby Barbarian Hat

I finished the baby barbarian hat for little Conan. Here it is, modeled by Sprout:
I had to roll up the brim so that it would fit Sprout, but even so this hat is so tiny! I hope it fits little Conan for at least a little while after he's born... I might have to make another one, in a larger size so he can actually wear it when he's bigger.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Little Yellow Wagon

I have a new toy! A steel flat-bed garden cart, the sides can fold down for moving large things, or locked up as needed. Especially now that I'm pregnant, moving things in the wheelbarrow isn't a good idea. It's really nice to have, way better than a wheelbarrow for moving furniture! This dresser is being moved out to the freshly cleaned shop to get a nice new coat of paint before it moves back into Baby Conan's room.
That's right, we cleaned the shop! We moved most of the stuff out into the driveway, then swept, vaccummed, and mopped the floor. Then of course we moved the stuff back in, but we sifted out the junk and organized the rest of it so it all fits neatly inside. A new shelving unit really helped too. It's incredible how much open space there is now! Of course, we still have a couple of piles of things that need to be taken to goodwill or the ReStore, but all in all it feels like a major accomplishment. It was a huge job... but now we can move on to other projects, like painting baby furniture. :)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Beans, Cukes & Zukes

The garden really enjoyed all the rain this past week. The yellow wax bush beans went crazy - I picked two colanders full of them.
I'm not sure what I'm going to do with them all, maybe some dilly beans?

I also got a ton of cucumbers. I made a batch of bread & butter pickles, which used up most of them, but I've still got several cukes left over. If I pickle the beans I guess I'll do the rest of the cukes as well.

The Zucchini really grew this week, for the first time this year I have 4 big giant zukes to deal with. Up until this week they had been slow enough to mature that I've gotten them all at about 10 inches long, perfect for sautes and grilling. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with these giants, but I'll probably start with a batch of zucchini bread. Yum! Of course, I'll still have 3 more zukes to deal with after that... might be time to take some produce to the office to give away. :)

Also, my tomatoes are starting to get ripe! I picked a handful of orange cherry tomatoes yesterday, they are super sweet and juicy. The red pear tomatoes and one of the heirloom slicers that Keeley gave me are starting to turn color as well. Looks like a pretty good crop coming on!

I took out the peas, broccoli, and the white winter kale (which was bolting & had aphids) yesterday, the garden feels like it's starting to make the transition from spring/summer crops to fall. I need to do some more weeding and then I'll start planting some fall crops - more carrots, some beets, new kale, chard and lettuces. I'm toying with the idea of trying another planting of broccoli, as well as some brussel sprouts - I'll have to look and see if I can get starts still.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Six Months!

Today is the day, I'm 24 weeks or 6 months along. Only four more months to go! Yes, that's right, four: the dirty little secret of pregnancy is that it's actually 10 months (40 weeks) long. As my mom puts it, "You'll be nine months pregnant for a whole month!" Here's what six months looks like (self portrait with dusty mirror):
Not too big yet, but this belly is starting to be a noticeable encumberment. I have trouble reaching my feet to mess with my shoes or socks, rolling the passenger-side window up or down from the driver's seat is almost impossible, and I've had to readjust where my keyboard sits on my desk because I cant roll my chair up as close as I'm used to.

I'm down to only once a week on the nausea/vomiting, so that's a big improvement. My feet have started to swell up though, which is much more unpleasant than I had expected. I didn't know it would actually hurt! I'm doing what I can to keep them from getting too swollen: drinking lots of water, minimizing my salt intake, soaking with epsom salts in the evening, doing yoga and putting my feet up whenever possible. Some days I'm more sucessful than others at keeping the swelling down, when it's really hot there's just not much that can be done to stop it.

Little Conan is getting bigger and stronger all the time, he is very active and his stamina is improving by leaps and bounds. He kicks, punches, rolls and wiggles all day long, sometimes even making it hard for me to get to sleep. I enjoy feeling him move around. Sometimes it's pretty wierd and not altogether pleasant feeling, but I like knowing he's alive and healthy in there. I can't wait until after he's born, to be able to feel him wiggle with my hands instead of my insides! :)

The nursery hasn't progressed much further than getting it cleaned out and the carpet steamed, but I have aquired some really great hand-me-down baby things from Iris and Tombi. I've gotten a few new things as well, it's starting to look like a real baby wardrobe! I just love that my baby dresser is filling up with all these special little things, my little guy is going to look so cute wearing them this winter.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Baby Hat

I finished crocheting this little hat for my little future neice while we were at the cabin on Guemes. It turned out really cute.
The main body yarn is a super soft merino-silk blend, and the little flowers are lambswool. Nice yarn to work with, not to mention good for keeping little baby heads warm this winter!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Guemes Island Weekend

We spent the weekend at Melissa Whitman's family cabin on Guemes Island. Melissa gave us a weekend stay as a wedding present, and what a wonderful gift it turned out to be! We shared the weekend with my brother Jon, his wife Nadege, her sister Vasilia and her husband Patrice, who were visiting from France. James Wiley and his dog He-Man also joined us Saturday afternoon. He-Man is a 12 year old Golden Retreiver, old and slow on land but he's still a puppy when he gets into the water, it's really cute to watch him rediscover his youth! Patrice and Vasilia had never been to the US before, and really enjoyed seeing the Pacific Northwest and doing island things like going crabbing and digging clams.

We had a wonderful time. The cabin is situated on a small cliff above a cove, there's a trail down to the rocky beach where the rowboats were stored. From the cabin and the deck we had a great view out over Guemes channel towards Anacortes. A surprise bonus was that the Lady Washington and the Hawaiian Cheiftan, two beautiful replicas of 18th century tall sailing ships, were in Anacortes, and on both Saturday and Sunday afternoon they came out and staged cannon battles right in front of us! We could not have had a better vantage point from which to watch them, at least not from shore. They are such beautiful ships. You may recognize the Lady Washinton from the Pirates of the Carribean movies, she played the royal navy ship HMS Interceptor. Unfortunately my camera batteries had died by Sunday afternoon, which was beautiful and sunny, so all my pictures of the ships are from rainy saturday instead. Oh well.

We caught 4 "keeper" Red Rock crabs on Saturday, so we had a nice crab dinner. Sunday morning Jon, Vasilia and Patrice got up at 6 am to catch the low tide and drove to the north end of the island and dug clams in the rain. It was a neap tide, so the evening "low" tide was only a little below the high tide, no good for clamming or beachcombing. We didn't catch any more crabs on Sunday (our pots all came up empty!) but we cooked up the clams and had them with a fresh tomato & eggplant sauce over fresh pasta, Yum!

Really, a wonderful weekend. I'm so glad we were able to share it with our French visitors, I can't help but think that it was a real highlight in their visit. We certainly enjoyed hosting them, it's always neat to see familiar surroundings and activities through new eyes. :)

Friday, August 08, 2008

Benjamin's Blankie

I recently went a little crazy buying yarn and baby crochet pattern books at the fabric store. Here's the first project I completed, for my boss's little boy Benjamin due in October. It's a "snuggle blankie" - basically a small blanket with feet & hands and a teddy-bear head. I added a little blue heart too. It turned out nicely, although this super fuzzy yarn is a lot harder to work with than I expected. It's hard to count your stitches when you can't see them!

I have a lot more cute patterns picked out that I want to make, some for Baby Conan of course but also for my brother's little girl (due in november) and for all the other babies I know too, both born & unborn. :)

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Garden Bounty

I harvested the second planting of peas and got real nice crop. Shelling them all took quite a while, but it's worth it, they are so tasty. I don't have enough to really put any up for winter, but we'll enjoy having fresh peas for dinner for several days before we run out. :)
Between yesterday and today I made 2 batches each of jam and jelly. I used Pomona's Universal Pectin, which allows you to use much less sugar than the standard Ball pectin and still get a great set. I even did two batches sweetened with honey! From left to right: Peach Jam with Honey, Plum & Cherry Jam (regular sugar), Red & Black Berry Jelly with Honey, and Red & Black Berry Jelly (regular sugar). The house smells great and the pantry looks wonderful with all these beautifully colored jars of homemade yumminess stacked up.

Soon I need to start making pickles, my cucumbers are starting to produce more than we can eat on salads. The yellow bush beans are starting to come on, I was able to pick just enough for dinner a couple nights ago. And the zuchinni is starting to really take off, I need to keep and eye on it to make sure it doesn't get too far out in front of me. I love this time of the summer in the garden!

In baby related news, last night we did indeed move the TV, Couch, and assorted other stuff out of the baby's room. Thanks, Guzstiltzmans! We're going to rent a steam cleaner and clean the carpet, and then we'll be ready to start moving the things we already have (a dresser and a rocking chair) into the room. We have another dresser and a shelf that may also go in there, but they both need a coat of fresh paint before they go anywhere, so that's another project. I'm super excited... or have I mentioned that already? ;)

Friday, August 01, 2008

Window Shades

The blinds I ordered were installed earlier this week, and they look and work great! I'm really, really glad that I went ahead and ordered them custom-made, they were a bit expensive but they are high quality and will last us for years & years. I got them through Walls & Windows, a local window covering shop. The brand is Hunter-Douglas, the style is "Applause" and the color downstairs is butterscotch, upstairs is cornsilk. They are a honeycomb stlye shade, so when they are open they form air pockets which provide an insulative barrier. They also really help make the house seem quieter, which is nice. Here's the office, you can really see how well the color of the blind matches the color of the walls:

For the living room windows I splurged and got the "top-down, bottom-up" feature, which means the blinds can be open from the top or the bottom, or both! It's really amazing to me that they can do that, it's like magic.
All the blinds, except the kitchen one, have what they call "literise lift" operation, which means there are no strings, you just raise or lower the bar at the bottom (or in this case, the top) of the shade and it stays at whatever level you let go of it. Besides being neat, it's safer for babies and pets, which can sometimes get strangled by the strings. It's some kind of extremely clever counterwieght system. Again, magic.
In the kitchen I opted for the regular string operation. I would never be able to reach over the counter and raise the blind more than a couple of feet otherwise! I'd be in there whacking at it with my long wooden spoon - not good.
Upstairs, we got a new shade for the baby's room-to-be. We had a cheap roman shade in here, but it had the regular old string operation so it seemed like a good idea to get a safer stringless one. None of the other bedrooms got new shades, maybe someday in the future when we have more $$.
The Laundry room also got shades. While this might seem like a wierd place to put shades on the first round, considering that the bedrooms didn't rate, it's all about the insulation. This room has windows facing south & west, and on these sunny summer days it gets super hot in the late afternoon. We keep the door closed to try and trap the heat in there, but with our bedroom right next door the heat still gets through.
The most exciting thing is that we have these blinds installed, we can finally move the TV out of the baby's room into the living room, and I can start nesting! James & Aimee are going to come over for dinner tomorrow, and help us move the large things (like the couch) downstairs. Then I'll have a blank slate to work with, and I can start thinking about (and getting) baby furniture and stuff. Yay! :)