16 Weeks

{ Wednesday, December 31, 2008 }
I honestly cannot say where the first trimester has gone! Time is moving so quickly and the past couple months are mostly a blur of nausea and exhaustion. Things are definitely getting better, but the nausea is not completely gone. I'm starting to prepare myself for the possibility that I may just be sick this entire pregnancy. With things the way they are now, I can live with that. The nausea comes and goes and is worse right before bed and when I haven't eaten, but its not constant like it was at 12 weeks and its definitely not as severe.

Monday was our 16 week checkup and we got to hear little bean's heartbeat again. We'll be scheduling the big ultrasound in the next couple weeks , which is very exciting. We declined all genetic testing, so this will be our first glimpse at whether things seem to be developing OK in there!

In other exciting news, I think I've been feeling the little one move the last couple days. I've been feeling it for a few weeks, but I just recently made the connection that the sore feeling in my pelvis that comes and goes and moves around is probably just our little jelly bean. Very exciting!

My belly is getting bigger and bigger and I'm gaining weight like crazy. I am now in maternity clothes all the time (I even needed new pajamas!). Up until a couple weeks ago, I could still fit into a few pairs of baggy pants, but now I think its just one pair of sweats I stole from the sweetie. Here are some belly pics so you can see for yourself.

Five Weeks

Ten Weeks

Sixteen Weeks

I think I might have a genuine baby bump any day. Part of me is anxious for that to happen, but the other part of me would love if the bean would hold off until after the wedding, so I can still fit into my dress. We'll see which side wins.

Happy new year everyone!

Merry Merry

{ Thursday, December 25, 2008 }
I had a post written about drowning in christmas cookies with a picture to prove it (I left all my baking until the last minute this year and literally packed up the last batch of cookies to give away as the icing was still drying) but we left the camera at the boy's parent's last night. Entertaining picture or not, I'm wishing you all a happy winter holiday of your choice, surrounded by loving friends and family.

Gettin' Hitched

{ Wednesday, December 24, 2008 }
Invitations have been mailed!
(Please excuse the craptastic scan of our invite--its actually very pretty in person)

Other things which are done for the wedding:
Wedding/reception site is booked
Photographer is booked
Dress and undergarments have been purchased
Cake baker is chosen--just need to do one more tasting and pay the deposit
Hair/makeup appointment is made for the day of the wedding

Things which still need to be done:
Purchase my shoes (must be done before dress fitting the first week of Jan)
Purchase headpiece/hair pins (also must be done before consultation the first week of Jan)
Rent a suit/tux for the sweetie
Hire a florist and decide on table centerpieces (we have a quote from a place that is available on our date, but horrendously expensive--need to look around more after the holidays when florists have time to breath again)
Find an officiant (again, one quote from someone who is horrendously expensive--hoping to find someone more affordable)
Grow the amaryllis bulbs that I would like to use for decoration at the site
Reserve a hotel room for the wedding night

Yikes, it really seems like less stuff left to do when its in my head. The "things which are done" list is frighteningly short!

Coming to Terms

{ Tuesday, December 16, 2008 }
I've always had a certain look--you know, blond hair, mild features, conservative dress and a tendency to be painfully shy. It really gives off a kind of sweet and naive air. As a coworker once said about me, "we thought kraftykay was a sweet and innocent farm girl until we got to know her." For a very long time, I HATED this about myself. I tried so hard to fight against it. I cut my hair short, wore the requisite Doc Martens and got piercings and tattoos.

None of it worked. Try as I might, I still ended up looking like an innocent straight girl, just one who was trying to dress up as a lesbian. (Why do innocent and straight seem to go together? Hhhmm.) It used to really irk me that people couldn't look at me and right away identify me as a queer girl (OK, it still sometimes does). But for the most part, I've embraced the innocent girl image and actually started to have fun with it--after all, I may look sweet and innocent, but that doesn't mean I actually am.

So, when the sweetie and originally moved up our babymaking plans, the fact that the baby would come before the wedding was fine with me. We agreed that we would just have the wedding when our child was a year old--we're already a non-traditional couple, why have the traditional wedding? Well, it was a completely different story a couple weeks after we found out I was pregnant. It came as a surprise to me that suddenly it was very important that we be married before the baby came. Apparently looks aren't deceiving, maybe I really am traditional and innocent (I don't think I'm all that sweet, though).

Oh, and I want to wear a white (non maternity) dress. So we needed to get a move on. The sweetie and I share a birthday which happens to fall in February (and there's already Valentine's day to contend with there), so January it is. We are attempting to pull together an honest to goodness wedding in about a month and a half, with the little matter of Christmas between now and then. It feels a little like a survivor challenge. Think we'll get voted off the island?

Silver Lining

{ Thursday, December 04, 2008 }
First of all, thank you so much for all the nice comments on my last post. It really did make me feel better.

Second, if I had known Tuesday was going to be the absolute worst day before I started feeling better again, maybe I wouldn't have whined quite so much. Yesterday was manageable and today was an absolute dream. I was able to be productive at work for the first time in weeks and I made it through the whole day without a nap, which is unbelievable. I'm not even going to tempt fate by suggesting that this might be the end of the worst of it, but I'm sure you all know what I'm hoping for.

Now, a little story. It turns out, I get very nervous before doctors appointments. I haven't always been this way--just lately with any appointment related to the bean. The closer it gets to the appointment, the more and more I start to worry about hearing bad news. Today was our second prenatal visit and I texted the boy during the day to say that I didn't want to go anymore. I was really very scared of hearing bad news. Well, we did end up going and it was definitely worth it. We heard the jelly bean's little heart beating away. It was nervewracking there for a few minutes because the student midwife had a difficult time finding it at first. All of us--the boy, the student midwife, the no-longer a student midwife, and I--were holding our breaths. Finally, there the little one was, hiding, but there.

Hearing the heartbeat on the doppler is such a huge hurdle. Eight weeks ago, it seemed like a lifetime away. Our little bean is now officially a fetus, has its own placenta, and a heartbeat loud enough for the mamas to hear. I'm so proud!

Its my (pity) party and I'll whine if I want to

{ Tuesday, December 02, 2008 }
It turns out, it was a bit optimistic for me to be hoping the morning sickness was tapering off at 9 weeks. I had those few blissful days of relief, followed by a couple weeks of a kinder, gentler nausea that was totally manageable and now I'm hit with this. I've been told I tend towards the dramatic, but even I'm at a loss to come up with words horrifying enough to describe this feeling. Every day is worse than the one before, the nausea has invaded every fiber of my being and is waking me up at night (seriously waking me up in the middle of the night so that I can roll around feeling sick to my stomach)! Its relentless--I feel sick every second of the day. I can't think. I can't get out of bed. Today, I woke up, dropped my beloved off at the train and drove an hour to work only to walk into the building, take one look at my desk, and turn right around and come home. I couldn't face even the idea of sitting down and pretending to work while this nausea has its claws in me. And the exhaustion! Oh, I'm so incredibly tired. On more than one occasion I have debated whether I really need to get out of bed to go to the bathroom or maybe I can hold it a while longer because the 20 paces to the bathroom might as well be 20 miles.

Out the window is the idea that I wouldn't be eating refined sugar while pregnant. Ha! That's a laugh--gatorade, chocolate, and gingersnaps are the only things that are helping me to hang on. The idea that I would only eat organic produce? I'm pretty sure all the takeout places we've been visiting aren't buying organic. Oh, and the one where I would be a wonderful partner who continued to do her fair share of household tasks and still prepare meals for her adorable partner who doesn't cook? Not while I'm exhausted and heading to bed the second I get home (oh, that's on the days when I actually stay at work).

And the final straw? I promised myself that I would never, no matter how awful I felt, complain about being pregnant. I know how fortunate I am and what a gift I've been given. I'm a miserable, ungrateful, nauseous twit but this has to, has GOT to end. Now. Please? I know they mean well, but so many people have been telling me their morning sickness ended at 14 weeks and I just can't hear it. Two more weeks? Are ya freakin' kidding me? Has anyone ever died from this? I may well be the first.

And if you're thinking that I'm a creampuff who will never, ever make it through an unmedicated birth, you're not alone. That thought has crossed my mind too.

Thankful for Dairy

{ Wednesday, November 26, 2008 }
This pumpkin cheesecake has been my go-to thanksgiving recipe for as long as I can remember. Last year, when we were "most of the time vegans," we indulged on thanksgiving, so I can honestly say I haven't missed a year since I started making it (its really that good). This year, I had planned to try veganizing it, but ended up making the full-fat, full-dairy version, since we're off the vegan wagon for now. I usually make a few slight modifications to the recipe, and this year I also left the bourbon out of the topping, out of respect for the little one in my belly who will also be enjoying it (and hopefully won't be tasting bourbon for many, many years). The best part about this recipe is that it makes too much for my springform pan--just enough extra to fill two individual pans. The large cake will go with us to the sweetie's family tomorrow, the other two . . . well, I'm sure we won't be letting them go to waste.

As if that weren't enough, I also made one of the sweetie's favorite desserts for the long weekend. This cake is so incredibly easy to make that it really doesn't have any right to taste as good as it does. The main ingredient is Famous Chocolate Wafers. I never use these unless I'm making this particular cake and I don't know anyone else who does either, which makes me wonder how the company stays in business. Actually, every time I go to the store for them I expect them to be gone, but there they always are. (Google just told me that these are made by Nabisco, so I guess the company is safe after all). In any event, the recipe goes something like this: whip up some heavy cream (a pint or two will do), splash in some vanilla and a few spoonfuls of powdered sugar. Layer wafers with cream, chill overnight, et voila . . .

When I was growing up, my mother would make a version of this with mint flavoring in the cream and garnish it with maraschino cherries for Christmas. The sweetie is a purist, so we have the plain black and white version.

I threatened some time ago to share a picture of the blanket I'm working on for the bean, so I figured I'd surprise us all by actually following through! This is the Prairie Blanket by Oat Couture knit in some undyed wool we picked up at Rhinebeck this year. The picture really doesn't do it justice--the yarn is just stunning in person. I'm very happy with how this is coming out, despite the fact that it looks like a shawl at this point. It will someday grow up to be a real blanket!

Have a lovely holiday tomorrow. This year is especially meaningful to me because of all the many blessings in my life; thanksgiving is as good a day as any to remind myself not to take one second of it for granted.

Random Thoughts

{ Monday, November 17, 2008 }

Because I can't be troubled to create paragraphs today:

  • We protested prop 8 in NYC on Saturday. Neither of us took any pictures, but you can find some here, here, and here.

  • I bought my first pair of maternity pants. Because its so early, I felt weird about it for a second. That's all over now that I have these babies on. So. Comfortable.

  • I have all of the pieces of Apricot Jacket completed and I started seaming them up last night. It should be done just in time for me to be too big to wear it. *sigh*

  • I have started knitting a blanket for jelly bean, but it is very slow going. It may make a nice 1st birthday present. :)

  • I am no longer vegan. This decision was made after a lot of research (including discussions with both a nutritionist and midwife) and some soul searching. I think it may be possible for some women to have healthy pregnancies while on a vegan diet, but I've determined its not possible for me. Try as I may, I cannot get the recommended amount of protein without eating huge amounts of soy and, while the jury may still be out on the possible dangers of soy, its not a risk I'm willing to take with the little bean. I originally became vegan because of moral issues with factory farming and I still have concerns about hormones in dairy products, so this was not a decision I made lightly. For me though, the best thing is to go back to eating cheese, eggs, and yogurt (I'm still vegetarian, not taking things too far!).

A Light in the Darkness

{ Monday, November 10, 2008 }
I've been a little hesitant to post any kind of pregnancy update because anything I would have posted over the last week may have sounded like complaining, which is not where I'm at. I'm thrilled to be pregnant and already in love with our little jelly bean, but I've really been having a rough time during this first trimester.

I've been nauseous all day, every day and it was getting worse every day until last week I wasn't sure I could take any more. I've been having strange food aversions (could not even look at beans) and really only wanted to eat junk. I haven't been able to even think about drinking water even though I'm incredibly thirsty and all the sugar from the fruit juice I've been having has made me feel more sick and jittery. (There, that's the complaining part.) But . .

But, thank the universe, I woke up yesterday morning and drank a full glass of water. I took my prenatal vitamins without gagging and tempted fate by having a bean salad at lunch and you know what? I was FINE!! Today is even better than yesterday with just a little bit of nausea which is so totally manageable its not even worth mentioning. I don't even have the words to describe both how bad I felt before and how incredibly amazing I feel now. This morning, I helped the sweetie make breakfast and lunches and straightened up around the house instead of my usual routine of whining about how bad I feel.

I think this kind of thing is similar to labor in that people who've been through it remember it as not being such a big deal. A lot of people have been telling me, "Oh, I was a little sick, but it wasn't so bad." Last week, a comment like that would have been met with expletives from yours truly, but today I can almost see that perspective.

Even if this is just a temporary reprieve, I'm so thankful for it. Its just what I needed to get me through another couple weeks.

Post-Election, Pre-Marriage

{ Wednesday, November 05, 2008 }
Today's election results are bittersweet to me.

Sweet because I am so excited for our child to grow up in a world where a black man is president of the United States. I want him or her to take that fact for granted, not in the sense that our history of slavery and segregation and racism is ignored, but in the sense that its just a fact of life. Like how women and black people used to not be allowed to vote and the idea seems so ridiculous now. I hope our child grows up feeling that all the ugliness and hate of racism is ridiculous and foreign. I'm certainly excited and hopeful about how Obama will perform as a president, but I am also thrilled at what his election means for the future of our country.

Today is also bitter because AZ and FL have passed constitutional amendments banning gay marriage and its looking like we've lost in CA as well. Its amazing to me that yesterday probably 80% of the people who voted to ban gay marriage will never be affected by it in any way. How can people choose to deny that right to two people who are in love and want to make a lifelong commitment to each other? In my opinion, its not legalizing gay marriage that will destroy the institution of marriage, its prohibiting it. How can straight marriage continue to have any integrity when its inherently discriminatory? And what does my marriage (or lack thereof) have to do with anyone else's?

These are the questions I'm struggling with today.

Introducing . . . . Our Jelly Bean

{ Monday, November 03, 2008 }
We had our first midwife appointment on Friday. I didn't think I would be as nervous as I was, but full panic set in around Tuesday. Part of me didn't even want to go because I didn't want to hear any bad news. Thank goodness I did end up going, or I would have missed out on this:
Hello little one!!

He/she is measuring right on target and we were able to see the little heart beating. The ultrasound wasn't fancy enough to allow us to hear the heartbeat, but the midwife assured us that by the next appointment, we should be able to pick it up on doppler. If you look close, you can see that the little bean already has tiny arms and legs!

I am so thrilled and so completely excited to be pregnant. Emotionally and spiritually, I could not be happier. Physically, I feel kind of lousy though. My morning sickness would be better named all-day sickness and I'm so exhausted that its really a struggle to get out of bed (and stay that way!). I know this is temporary and certainly its well worth it but I have to admit that I'm starting to look forward to the second trimester when I'll (hopefully) start feeling better.

Catching Up

{ Wednesday, October 29, 2008 }
Thank you so much for the well wishes on our big news; the boy and I are both thrilled and so grateful for the support. We've known that I'm pregnant for almost a month now, which puts me well into my seventh week. Those first couple days I was holding my breath and trying not to make any rapid movements, for fear something might happen. The whole thing was so huge that we had to have little goals. At first it was literally making it through one day. If I was still pregnant at the end of the day, we were doing good. Then, when I was having blood tests every couple days, the goal stretched out to the next test. We're now to the point where I feel comfortable talking in weeks. We're still taking it day by day, but every week that passes makes me more and more comfortable thinking about the possibility of having a baby in our arms come June. There's still a lot of worry and uncertainty, clearly, but we're in a good place today and that's all we can ask for.

Over the past couple weeks, I've had a handful of early pregnancy symptoms--some I was expecting and others that were complete surprises. (I thought I knew what pregnancy was all about, but there are some things you mamas aren't talking about!) Its been amazing to witness my body making these changes and taking the first couple steps in nurturing a whole person inside me. (A whole person! I can't get over how wonderful and amazing it all is.)

I had some queasiness early on, but morning sickness started full force in week 6 and has gotten steadily worse. Even this is strange and exciting. I've never had nausea without all the accompanying flu or hangover symptoms. And I've never before felt hungry and nauseous at the same time, that's interesting. I'm trying all the tricks I've read about to lessen the severity (eating frequent, small meals and lots of saltines). Even though morning sickness is my near-constant companion, I've already started having cravings. The last week, all I've wanted to eat is mexican food. Dried fruit, nuts, and beans (prepregnancy staples of my diet) are revolting to me. And I've spent the majority of my life to this point detesting avocados, but now? I cannot get enough guacamole. I would eat it all day if we could keep enough in the house.

I've been tearing through all the pregnancy books I was too superstitious to read before I got pregnant and eyeing the labor and delivery books with some trepidation. We're working through the long list of things to do that has been filed under the category of "to do after we get pregnant, before baby comes." Aside from you all, we've told a few close family members and are waiting a few more weeks to make a general announcement. (I'm still deciding if I'm superstitious about that too.)

And that, dear readers, should get us all caught up.

Babymaking--Take Two

{ Tuesday, October 21, 2008 }
Attempt #2 was meant to go the same as #1. We arrived at the doctor's office a few days before I was scheduled to ovulate, where an ultrasound was performed to see which ovary was at bat this month. The egg was coming from the left (the one the doctor told us was likely no good) and it wasn't quite ready yet. I was a little bit disappointed because I really didn't want to wait a whole month before we could try again. Walking out of the doctor's office, the boy turned to me and said, "I'd be OK with inseminating the left ovary." That statement changed our whole approach. If we don't care which ovary, then we don't need the ultrasounds. Without the ultrasounds, we wouldn't know when to use the hormone injection to force me to ovulate and we could just let my body pick the timing. If we don't care which ovary, we are back to the plan that we made before the doctor was able to convince us that we needed all of his help. It felt good to give my body a chance and so we decided to roll the dice on lefty.

It took a little work to convince the people at the doctor's office to just give us our frozen samples to take home (they really wanted to prepare them for us), but finally we ended up with a nitrogen tank in our living room. And we waited. And waited. Stress can delay ovulation, did you know? I was worried that I'd mess up the timing and we'd have wasted both the time spent waiting and the money spent on samples. I worried that the samples would thaw out and be ruined before we'd had a chance to use them. Honestly, it all started to get to me and I had a little meltdown. I started to feel like I would never be able to get pregnant from of all this checking and worrying and waiting. It all felt ridiculous and the stress was just too much. I finally let go of trying to control every aspect of this process and trying to be an expert at it. I gave myself permission to be human and, of course, that eliminated the stress I was feeling and allowed my body to get on with it.

The timing was the big issue. Attempt #1 was easy--doctor told us when to do everything. Without doctor's help, it was on me to decide when all this should happen. I was getting anxious that we'd miss it and I decided that would be the worst case. Its better to be early than late (but not too early). I finally got too nervous to wait any longer (I'd let go a little, but not completely) and I told sweetie it was time. We did our routine two days in a row and the sweetie was wonderful. There were some nerves the first month, but on the second attempt, the boy was a pro. Afterwards, we waited for confirmation that I'd ovulated. And waited (sound familiar?). I had planned that we would have one insemination the day before ovulation and one the day of. And I was wrong. We were too early by one day. The boy had performed perfectly, but I had let us down. And again, I let go and all my remaining stress left. We were both disappointed and started looking forward to next month so we could try again.

Not long after this, we went away to get engaged. We came back and I was a mess. Everything felt wrong in my, uh, girly bits. I decided maybe this trying to get pregnant thing wasn't agreeing with me. I'd gotten a bad cold immediately after inseminating the first month and now this? I was not amused, and not quite sure what was happening to me.

Now, before we got on this ride, the sweetie and I had decided how many days we'd wait before taking a pregnancy test. Too early, and you risk getting a false negative, too late and you're driven crazy with the waiting and not knowing. I wanted to have the day in mind before we started so that I wouldn't be tempted--I could tell myself to just be patient and wait for test day. Test day happened to fall on a Monday and all weekend, the sweetie was impatient. Test now, test now, test now!! Monday was so close, though, so I was able to convince the boy that it was best to wait.

Monday morning I woke up early, went to the bathroom, and took the test. With this particular test, you wait three minutes and if there are two lines you're pregnant, one line means you're not. I took the test, half awake, and tried to keep an eye on my watch without waking up too much. The night before we'd both said we thought it would be negative since our timing was off. I just wanted to see it be negative and go back to bed. I glanced over at the test. It was early, maybe my eyes were playing tricks on me, but I thought I saw a shadow where the second line should be. I waited a few more seconds and looked again. Strange, the shadow had gotten darker. I rubbed my eyes and kept watching, wide awake at this point. Finally, I couldn't deny it any longer. I saw two lines. Two lines = pregnant.

I came flying out of the bathroom and crashed my way into the bedroom. I grabbed the boy and turned around, heading back into the bathroom without pausing. I'm actually surprised the boy was able to get feet on the ground before being literally dragged down the hall. There certainly wasn't time for such things as glasses. "Do you see two lines??!!" The boy leaned close. Even without glasses, there it was. Two lines = pregnant.

We looked at each other, speechless.

Two lines.


It freaking worked!

I'm not talking about a little crush . . .

{ Wednesday, October 15, 2008 }
Today is Love Your Body Day.

That's love with a capital L. That's taking a critical look at all of the images thrown at us a thousand times a day about what a woman should and shouldn't look like and realizing that they're all wrong. That's examining all of the messages from the beauty industry, the TV industry, the media, the fashion magazines, even our own families that tell us something is wrong with the way we look and choosing to love ourselves anyway. That's understanding that women are being set up every day; recognizing that this is a game we can never win. Even the super models and movie stars that we're told we should emulate can't measure up.

Today, let's all be a little kinder to ourselves. Let's try looking in the mirror and complimenting ourselves. Let's NOT (for the love of all that is good in this world) ask "do these pants make me look fat?" Let's celebrate all the beautiful, amazing things about our bodies. Big thighs are good for running! Big arms help you lift things! Womanly curves are hot. hot. hot.

I've struggled with negative body image for as long as I can remember. For the longest time, I thought, "if I could just lose a little weight, I'd be happy." What I learned was that no matter what size you wear, if you're looking for something to hate, you'll find it. It honestly makes me so angry to think about how much of my precious time on this planet has been wasted wishing I looked different. What was the point? This is it. This is my body and its the only one I'm getting. Why bother being mad at it?

Love your body.

At the very least, take it out for a nice dinner and try to develop a crush.

Perfect Timing

{ Friday, October 10, 2008 }
I'm usually not one to brag, but lately its felt like I'm living a charmed life. Almost two years ago, I met my sweetie. That one event has completely changed my life in every possible way. Being with the sweetie has opened a whole new world for me; one in which I am supported and loved and really seen for who I am (and supported and loved anyway). Every single day together is a precious gift; one that I would not trade for anything in the world.

Now, not even two weeks after the boy asked for my hand, our state has decided that it would actually be legal.


I can't help but feel as though someone is on our side.

Apricot Update

{ Wednesday, October 01, 2008 }
Thank you so much for all of the well wishes on our engagement. The boy and I have been so thrilled with all of your comments and are really touched by the support we've been getting.

I have no idea how to segue from that to knitting, so let's just dive right in, shall we?

I had ample knitting time during the drive to and from Vermont last weekend. (The sweetie takes public transportation during the week and actually prefers to drive on the weekends, so who am I to argue?) Unfortunately, I have very little to show for my 10 plus hours of knitting. Remember that I had heard the pattern was difficult to follow? Well, it got me. Twice. I finished the back with no problems, but the fronts are a different story. See the pink yarn threaded through them here?

This is the point where I start decreasing to create the V at the neckline. The pattern provides directions for the left front and asks you to reverse the shaping for the right side. I'm knitting them both at the same and somehow, while trying to reverse shaping on the fly and in my head (mistake #1) I ended up with decreases that didn't match. I snapped this picture after I got almost to the end and realized my mistake. Immediately after snapping this picture, I ripped back to the line.

Attempt #2. I fixed my issue with the placement of the decreases and happily knit back to the same point on the drive up to Vermont. Now, confession time. I was understanding the armhole shaping and the decreases along the front edge, but then the pattern does something I didn't get. Bind off for the shoulders and then continue knitting. Wha? I figured all would be made clear in the fullness of time, but I got to that point and still didn't get it. I read ahead (something I should have done before starting, I know) and saw some reference in the finishing instructions to attaching a neckband. There were no instructions to actually KNIT a neckband. And then, it all made sense. I continue knitting a thin strip of fabric that is later joined and attached to the back to FORM a neckband. Perfect, except for one small problem. I had refigured the neckline decreases to account for my different gauge and I had way too many stitches left. I was making one huge neckband. So . . . . here it comes . . .

I ripped back. Again. To the exact. same. spot. And I reknit on the drive back from Vermont. So today, as I type this, I am only slightly farther along than I was in that picture up there.

Its humorous that even with the warnings about the pattern and with all the research I did, this crappy pattern still got me! Although, the situation is slightly less funny when I think that there's only a slim chance that this sweater will actually fit me when I'm done. I just hope I can finish it before spring.

Engagement Weekend

{ Monday, September 29, 2008 }
The sweetie surprised me last weekend with a trip to Vermont. Unbeknownst to me, she had arranged for us to stay at the Inn at the New England Culinary Institute. In addition to the inn being a beautiful place to stay and the fact that staying at a culinary school is just plain cool, this is also the school that my favorite celebrity chef attended.

We arrived in Vermont late Friday night, so the sweetie had done some research and found a vegetarian restaurant for us to stop at along the drive. Thinks of everything, that one.

Early Saturday morning, we drove to Mt. Mansfield and took a gondola ride most of the way to the top. We then started out on a fairly challenging, very rocky hike up to the highest point in Vermont. I did drag my hiking boots all the way to Vermont but left them at the hotel, so we were hiking in tennis shoes which made the wet rocks all the more exciting to navigate. We didn't end up making it all the way to the top, but stopped at one point along the trail where Mr. Sweetie got down on one knee and proposed. Of course, I said yes! Our self-portrait immediately after the proposal.

All smiles and in love.

We picked the ring out together a few weeks ago, so the proposal wasn't a complete surprise but I was definitely not expecting it at that moment. I thought that it would come at some point during the weekend, but I was expecting it would be at dinner later that night. I actually thought we'd left the ring in the hotel room, so the sweetie was halfway through the proposal before I caught on and thought, "OMG, this is it!" It was so perfect!

The entire weekend was beautiful and while its just the beginning of the foliage season, I thought the trees couldn't be any more gorgeous. I prefer there to be a bit of green, rather than all reds and golds, and we had a lovely view from the top of the mountain after some of the morning fog burned off.

Later that night, the boy had arranged another surprise--we had a private dinner cooked for us by one of the chef instructors at the school. The sweetie had designed the menu in advance (all vegan, natch) and we got to watch the chef prepare the food and learn some neat tricks (maple syrup in coffee? In mushrooms??!). Here we are, getting ready to eat butternut squash risotto.

And raspberry sorbet for dessert, with a message on the plate:

And a final pic of my sexy fiance on the trecherous hike.

Barley Salad

{ Monday, September 22, 2008 }
I've been feeling pretty uninspired when it comes to dinner lately. For one, I haven't had much energy to make anything beyond just the basics. The other reason for my funk is that I feel like we eat all the same things every week. The other day I took a peek in our cupboard to see if I could find something for dinner that wasn't rice, and I found some barley. We don't eat too much barley, which is unfortunate because it serves as refrigerator velcro, as Alton Brown would say. I threw it together with most everything I could find fresh in our fridge and the results were incredible. You can serve this salad warmed or at room temperature.

Barley Salad

1 cup barley
1 1/2 cups water or vegetable stock
1 can artichoke hearts, diced
1 1/2 cups button mushrooms, sliced
1 tomato, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 can kidney beans (which is about 2 cups worth in case you soak and boil them yourself, as I do)

2 tbls dill, chopped
2 tbls olive oil
4 tlbs white wine vinegar

Rinse barley and combine with water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil uncovered, then cover, lower heat and simmer until water is absorbed and the barley is tender, about 10 minutes.

Add chopped vegetables and beans to cooked barley and stir to warm through. Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Toss barley mixture with dressing, season to taste with salt and pepper and enjoy!

Apricot Jacket

{ Thursday, September 18, 2008 }
When I first saw this sweater at Skinny Rabbit way back in 2004, I fell in love with it. I love the girly eyelet details and the figure flattering ribbing, but at that time I didn't feel like my skills were up to the challenge, especially since the pattern is originally written in German and the English translation is rumored to be difficult to follow.

Four years later, I was still longing after this pattern. There are so many beautiful finished sweaters on ravelry (Ravelry link) and I finally felt up to the challenge. I found an ebay seller who had the pattern and took advantage of extensive googling and ravelry searching for tips.

Of course, I didn't get gauge with the yarn I chose so I had to rework all of the stitch counts. While I was at it (and since that wasn't enough work already), I decided to adjust all the sizing to end up with a sweater an inch or two smaller than the smallest size. I started with the back and it did look small. Blocking helped . . . a little.

I always get to this point in a project and begin to stress about the fit. Up until now, I've always calmed my nerves by making everything a little bit bigger as insurance. (I've also made a bunch of huge sweaters.) Mr. Greenjeans was my first sweater that really fit and, since it was top-down, I was able to try it on as I went. But this? I have no idea. I'm trying to trust my tape measure and just press on.
But these are not sleeves, people. These are the two fronts. These are supposed to cover my chest! Maybe blocking will help?

Babymaking--Take One

{ Tuesday, September 16, 2008 }
Dear blog,

I have a secret. The boy and I are trying to get pregnant. More specifically, the boy is trying to get ME pregnant and although we've told a few family members and friends, it still feels like I'm divulging something top secret by talking about it here.

Until recently we've talked about children as a possibility for some point in the future, likely two years off. That all changed in March when I was "diagnosed" with endometriosis. I put diagnose in quotes because a definitive diagnosis can only be obtained through surgery. So, we suspected that I had it in March, but it wasn't until my surgery in May that we knew for sure. The interesting thing about having a suspected diagnosis of endometriosis is that, if you're not too familiar with it (and I wasn't), you'll most likely google it on your blackberry on your way out of the doctor's office. If you're like me, the first hit you get will inform you that its the leading cause of infertility among women. You may also learn that most women who are able to get pregnant with it, do so within 3-6 months of their surgeries. So, we decided to get moving on this babymaking thing sooner rather than later.

We chose to use anonymous donor sperm from a sperm bank that required a doctor's approval before they would ship to us. So, off I went to see the doctor. I was curious what he might have to say about our chances of getting pregnant with the endo. Well, he was very negative and suggested that we might have the best luck using intrauterine insemination (IUI), which is a procedure by which the sperm is delivered directly into the uterus through a long catheter threaded into the cervix. He wanted us to try only inseminating when I was releasing an egg from my right ovary, since the left ovary had all of the endometriosis on it; to use an injection to trigger me to ovulate at a specific time; and to perform two inseminations per month. He also wanted to put me on medication to stimulate my ovaries to release multiple eggs per cycle, but I resisted that one. We were adamant that we wanted to do the inseminations at home, rather than the office. Luckily, the doctor was open to this and showed the boy how to perform the insemination (and let us practice in the office with the speculum, which was interesting!).

When the time came, we went in for an ultrasound and learned that I was getting ready to ovulate out of the right side. The next morning, I had the injection to trigger ovluation and the following two days we picked up the sample at the clinic and drove it home for the inseminations. Two weeks later, I took a home pregnancy test. Negative.

I felt, at the time, a little uncomfortable with the whole process, to be honest. I eat organic produce. I've eliminated animal products from my diet and I'm working on getting them out of my home. Yet a month ago, I injected myself with a syringe full of hormones taken from pregnant guinea pigs. I'm starting to wonder if maybe there's a better way.

Best (Vegan) Ice Cream Ever!

{ Sunday, September 14, 2008 }
OK, maybe I'm getting a little bit carried away with the "best ever" posts, but still, this ice cream is darn good.

Last christmas, my sweetie and I were gifted with the ice cream maker attachment for our kitchen aid mixer. Since then, we've experimented with several different vegan ice cream recipes, but haven't been fully satisfied with any of them. Various flavors of the old standby (soy) and even a raw ice cream made from mashed bananas all left something to be desired.

So, when the boy brought home a recipe for coconut whipped cream from the New York Times (again with the Times!), I figured we had nothing to lose. Veganizing it was simple, but I did experiment with a couple batches trying to lower the fat content while maintaining the creamy texture. I'm pretty happy with the result.

Coconut Vegan Ice Cream

1 can cream of coconut
1 can light coconut milk
4 cups non-dairy milk
1 cup shredded coconut, optional
4 tbls agave nectar (or sweetener of your choice)

Whisk together ingredients in a large bowl. Freeze in an ice cream maker, according to manufacturer's directions.

This makes a double batch for my ice cream maker--I have to freeze it in two separate batches or else it overwhelms the poor bowl and doesn't freeze well (ask me how I know). If you prefer not to make two batches, I recommend using the leftover 1/2 can of cream of coconut for pina coladas and adding the coconut milk to homemade thai food.

This recipe can be varied endlessly. Leaving out the shredded coconut makes an ice cream with a less pronounced coconut flavor that lends itself well to other additives. For just a hint of coconut (and less fat) use a whole can of coconut milk and omit the cream of coconut altogether. This results in more of a sorbet textured ice cream.

For this batch, since I was freezing in two batches anyway, I made two different flavors. To the first batch, I added little pieces of frozen cookie dough leftover from the big cookie experiment of 2008. To the second batch, I added cocoa powder until the batter looked reasonably chocolately (it took about 3-4 tbls). They were the two best homemade ice creams we've made and this recipe will definitely become our standard from now on.

Best (Vegan) Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever!

{ Thursday, September 11, 2008 }
I may be one of the last people to have read the New York Times article on chocolate chip cookies. (On a recent visit to Whole Foods, I found the recipe displayed alongside the recommended chocolate disks, just in case I hadn't already seen it all over the blogosphere.) Well, I already have a chocolate chip cookie recipe that I love (even though its not vegan) and I didn't have much interest in switching, but I did want to try my hand at some of the recommendations in the article.

First, I veganized the recipe I already had. I love this recipe, because it calls for oatmeal to be ground to a fine powder--upping the nutritional content without sacrificing texture. I subbed out earth balance margarine for butter and egg replacer for the eggs, which got me close, but the recipe required a bit more tweaking to get the moisture content right.

Next up, there's this whole idea of resting the batter in the fridge for 36 hours before baking. This whole cookie experiment took place over two weekends and four batches of cookies. (I take this stuff seriously, people!) The first couple batches were baked at 0, 24, and 48 hours after mixing. 36 hours may be optimal for the cookies, but its darn inconvenient for me. If I mix up a batch of cookies in the evening, I sure don't want to be baking them for breakfast two days later! As the article suggests (and other foodbloggers have confirmed) the cookies definitely taste better after resting. 24 hours is better than 0, but 48 hours was even better. The cookies had a better flavor and took on a richer color after baking. Even the raw batter was better after resting!

Left to right: 0, 24, and 48 hours after mixing

I was also intrigued by the addition of sea salt in the NYT recipe. I'd already discovered the amazing combination of sea salt with caramel, but it wouldn't have occured to me to add extra salt to cookies. I mean, there's already salt in the batter, right? The second weekend (and next two batches) were dedicated to exploring the addition of salt, as well as continuing to work out the moisture issue with the batter. I can't tell you whether just upping the salt content of the recipe would work the same way, but there is something added with the extra sea salt on top of the cookie. I didn't measure the amount, but a more generous sprinkling did produce a better tasting cookie. I started out with a light dusting and ended up upping the amount a couple times.
In the end, the boy and I couldn't stop eating these things. They were really that. good. Go make them, but don't say I didn't warn you!

Best Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup Earth Balance margarine
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
egg replacer equivalent to 2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup non-dairy milk
2 cups flour
2 1/2 cups blended oatmeal (measure oatmeal, then blend in a food processor to a fine powder)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
12 ounces chocolate chips
4 ounces dark chocolate, grated (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Blend the oatmeal and combine with flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, cream the earth balance and both sugars until the mixture is pale and fluffy. Add egg replacer, vanilla, and milk and mix until combined. Slowly add dry ingredients to the wet and mix just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips and grated chocolate, if using. Scoop onto parchment lined cookie sheets (I use a #20 scoop and divide each scoop into two balls). Flatten each ball slightly and liberally sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake for 10 minutes, rotating sheets midway through cooking.

Even though the oatmeal makes me feel slightly less guilty indulging in these, they are still pretty outrageously high in fat and sugar. My next cookie experiment will involve lightening these up a bit, but I'm in too much of a sugar coma to think about that right now.

Pinkie Blankie

{ Monday, September 08, 2008 }
With a name like that, could it be any other color?

Pinkie Blankie by Julie Ridl (Ravelry link)
Knit with 6 skeins of Knit Picks Comfy in the Flamingo color on US2 Addi Turbos (honestly, I don't think I ever use different needles, unless I'm making sock on US1 DPNs)

Knit for Mr. Sweetie's new baby neice. I followed the pattern fairly closely, changing it only to add an extra border of stockinette between the garter stitch edge and the lace pattern. I knit 9 repeats across, but could have added a couple more. I was concerned about running out of yarn and ended up with some leftover and a smallish blanket. The baby arrived as I was casting off, so I wouldn't have had time to knit it bigger anyway. Small as it is, I love this pattern and the yarn is super soft and comfy (good choice of name, those knitpickers are always thinkin'!)

T is for Tamale

{ Monday, September 01, 2008 }
I've always loved tamales and I've wanted to learn how to make them for a long time. Since its pretty difficult to find a vegan tamale at a restaurant, I figured I'd try my hand at a homemade version over the long weekend. As with most things, this journey started with google. I found several recipes that looked good, but ultimately decided to use the masa recipe here along with the fillings here and here.

Note: I had a hard time finding chipotles in adobo sauce, dried corn husks, and dried ancho chiles at my regular supermarket, but I was able to find them all at a spanish grocery near my house. (The checker asked if I was making tamales and then I'm pretty sure she laughed a little bit after I said yes. Mockery only makes me more determined people!)

The first steps were to soak the corn husks in warm water and to prepare the masa dough. I set those both aside while I whipped up the ancho chile sauce. This stuff was quite a bit of work and made a huge mess. Word to the wise--be very careful when pouring this stuff to strain it. It looked like a murder scene in my kitchen with all the red spatters everywhere. (And my pan did eventually come clean, although I had my doubts at one point). This sauce was then added to the filling from the banana leaf tamale recipe. I slightly modified this recipe by using zucchini instead of calabacitas and, of course, leaving out the cheese.

After I added the chile sauce to the veggie mixture, I felt like it still needed a little kick, so I added one chopped chipotle pepper with some extra adobo. Problem solved--this stuff was screaming hot. It had this gringa crying. I should have started with a 1/2 pepper. Lesson learned and maybe the supermarket checker had reason to giggle.

On to the sweet potato filling. I modified this recipe as well. I wanted to make a half batch and didn't want a 1/2 can of tomatoes left over, so I used a couple fresh tomatoes along with the red chile sauce I had already made. I didn't learn my lesson and added a full chipotle pepper; however, the recipe calls for 2-3, so at least I was starting to catch on. I mashed up the baked sweet potato and all the ingredients were ready.

The boy helped with this next step and it took a little bit of trial and error to figure out the best method. I had read somewhere online that you should flatten a piece of dough with your hands, place it on the husk, top with filling, and then form another piece of dough for the top. We didn't have much luck with this, as it was impossible to keep the filling from seeping out between the two layers.

Don't do it this way!

I have also seen people making tamales by spreading the dough onto the husk with a spatula. This was the method we ended up using--we spread the dough onto about 2/3 of the husk and then put filling on one side of it so that one side would fold over with dough for the top and then the opposite side would fold over the first with no dough. There are good folding instructions here. We also had better luck with the sweet potato filling because it would smoosh down and allow for better folding--the squash filling tended to come out and make a big mess.

After what seemed like hours of folding, we were ready to start steaming these bad boys! I crammed as many as would fit into the top of a steamer pan and left them to their own devices for about 30 minutes.

Having a steam bath.

To round out the meal, I made salsa with homemade tortilla chips and salad. I'm no salsa expert, but I like to chop the tomatoes, add salt, and let them sit and juice for a few minutes.

Leave us alone, we're juicing!

Then, I added red onion, garlic and cilantro. Lime juice and some jalepeno would have also been good but 1) my limes were bad and 2) my mouth was still on fire from tasting the chipotle sauce, so I left well enough alone. The chips were easy peasy--cut up some flour tortillas and bake in a single layer at 350 until crisp, turning once.

I had originally planned to make a more spanish-inspired salad but, again, I couldn't bear the thought of putting anything else spicy in my mouth so it ended up being a pear, fig, and baby spinach salad with balsamic vinaigrette. The cool pears were the perfect counterpoint to all the spiciness of the tamales. Wanna know my secret for vinaigrette? Good quality balsamic, a dash of olive oil, and two pinches of sugar. So simple and so incredibly delicious!

We especially loved the sweet potato tamales. The sweet offset the insane heat of the sauce, making the whole thing extra yummy. I'm not sure how soon I'll be setting aside an entire day for this process, but at least now I can say I've done it. Plus, I have a freezer full of tamales for the next craving.


{ Monday, August 18, 2008 }
We had a lovely weekend over here in southern Connecticut. The weather threatened to ruin it for us Friday evening, but the rain cleared up and made way for gorgeous weather on Saturday and Sunday. The sweetie and I decided to visit a park we hadn't been to before and took a lovely hike along (and over!) a dry creek bed filled with boulders. At one point, about halfway through our hike, we found ourselves climbing up to the top of one of the largest boulders for a view of the park. As we were looking around, I saw something carefully wedged under a smaller rock, just barely out of sight. It was a plastic container and I first thought someone had forgotten their lunch after stopping for a rest, but as I got closer, I realized that it was a geocache! I've heard of these before and the sweetie and I have even talked about going looking for some, but we'd never found one. Essentially, someone leaves a box with a logbook and, sometimes, little trinkets hidden somewhere and then posts the gps coordinates on a website so that others may try to find it. We just stumbled upon this one, but the thrill of finding it was enough to make us interested in going out to intentionally find some more.

Presenting . . .

{ Sunday, July 27, 2008 }
A completed shortypants, with not a shred of yarn to spare!

Mr. Greenjeans from knitty.

Sporfarm Merino Wool 2 skeins at 400.0 yards each in the Spiced Pumpkin colorway on size US2 addi turbos

My gauge was off, so I followed the 3X directions to end up with the XS size. Right after dividing for the armholes, I ended up being an inch worth’s of stitches short, which worked well. I didn't have smaller needles for the ribbing at the waist, so I fudged it by decreasing another inch worth's of stitches and stopped when I got too nervous that I would run out of yarn (just above my hips).

I then evenly divided the little bit of yarn that was left (including my gauge swatch) and knit on the sleeves until it was all gone.

It required the most severe of blockings in order to fit, but I love it still! Its difficult to capture in the photos, but the orange has the most subtle color variations--from almost yellow to almost brown in color that gives it some interest. Lovely!


{ Wednesday, March 12, 2008 }
This topic of diet is something I've been thinking about alot over the past several months. When my ex and I parted ways almost 2 years ago, I lost weight. I'm being intentionally flippant because it wasn't something I planned to do, or worked at. It just sort of happened. I know there are so many people who struggle with their weight and expend huge amounts of energy and money trying to control it--I was one of them for some time, so I can empathize. Its just that, for me, the weight loss was an occurence that I didn't feel like I had much to do with. I have several theories about it (decreased stress, for example), but I don't have one specific answer to the question of how I lost the weight. Because of this, the topic of diet as defined as a temporary method of eating for the purpose of weight loss isn't particularly interesting to me. What I'm more interested in is diet as defined as the way a person typically eats.

After the breakup, I stopped preparing meat at home immediately. I didn't really have a good reason for doing this, its just that my ex really liked eating it and I prepared it mostly for her. I don't really miss it much when I don't have it, so I figured, "why bother?" While I wasn't purchasing and preparing it, I would still occasionally have it if I was eating at someone else's house, so as to not offend or put anyone out. This went on for several months until I realized that, since I was probably 95% vegetarian, meat made me ill when I did have it. I decided to stop eating it altogether and really didn't find it very difficult either in terms of missing it from my diet or as an inconvenience when I ate away from home. Along with becoming vegetarian, I started becoming much more interested in my health and diet as a means of preventing and curing disease. As a result of some of my research, I started cutting back on my consumption of all animal products to the point where I, again, didn't prepare them at home, but would eat them when I was out. I started calling myself a "most of the time" vegan, but I didn't worry too much about whether there were hidden animal products in the food I ate.

The funny thing is, when you become vegetarian or vegan for health reasons and you google for vegetarian restaurants or read vegan cookbooks, its impossible to avoid all of the animal rights information that's out there. Thanks to my unwitting reading of excerpts from the book Slaughterhouse and listening to this podcast, I started to become more and more aware of the treatment of animals raised for consumption. This information made my stomach turn and sometimes reduced me to tears. I realized that I had to make the change to being a strict vegan (to the extent that I am able) immediately. Suddenly, my diet became about more than my own health.

My focus with my diet is still to eat food that is as healthful as possible. I want to use my diet to maintain my health and prevent illness and, to that end, I eat as many fresh vegetables and fruits as I can. Of course, it is absolutely possible to be an unhealthy vegan. There are plenty of vegan snacks and desserts that have no nutritional value and, don't get me wrong, I eat those foods occasionally too. But, for me, I feel better when I'm focusing on nutritious plant-based foods. I have done much more research on nutrition since making this change than I ever did before when I was eating animal products, and I'm sure that is a huge reason for the increased health benefits. I know this isn't right for everyone, but it works for me!

Reduce, Reuse

{ }
I've finished all the knitting and weaving of ends on Mr. Greenjeans (aka Mr. Shortypants) and I have to tell you--it was a little hairy there at the end. I used absolutely every spare inch of yarn that I could and its still short-sleeved and very cropped. Oh yeah, and I'm going to have to block it like crazy to get the button bands to meet. In addition to unraveling my gauge swatch, I also cut off all of the longer ends that were hanging from joining the new ball or picking up stitches and knit with those as well. I actually had to unknit a row on the second sleeve because I didn't have enough yarn left for the bind off. Talk about cutting it close!

But anyway, its all done and ready to be blocked and have the button sewn on, which leads me to the story I really wanted to tell. I stopped by Michael's today to look for buttons. I could have sworn that Michael's used to sell both fabric and buttons, but I couldn't find either at my local store. What I did find were these super cute knitting bags. I was originally drawn to the fabric colors thinking they were regular tote bags and probably would have gotten one anyway, but the fact that they're designed to be knitting bags and have so many pockets just sealed the deal. I got the carry-all traveler and one of the yarn travelers. I usually keep my knitting projects in individual ziplok bags (which I end up replacing periodically once my needles start poking holes in them), so I'm glad to try out these reusable containers. Since I was already buying stuff, I also picked up some wool-ease. I'm dying to make Juliet and I didn't have any chunky weight yarn on hand and how can you beat the price of wool-ease?

After all that, I still didn't have a button for Shortypants and you know what? I came home and looked in my button stash and found the perfect one.

But you know, I might have missed out on those cute bags if I'd just started in the stash.

Mr. Shortypants

{ Friday, February 29, 2008 }

Ha! See that? It says 14 grams. That's every last shred of yarn that I have left and its going to be one sleeve. I don't know if you can see from the picture, but my gauge swatch is under there. I love how this has turned out so far, but this sweater is very fitted, cropped, and soon it will have short sleeves. Not exactly what I had in mind when I started, but I learned an important lesson. I thought I had the yardage required to make the size that I wanted, but didn't consider how drastically different my gauge is from that specified in the pattern. Tighter gauge = more yarn usage. Who knew?

Mr. Greenjeans

{ Monday, January 28, 2008 }
I've been thinking that starting a new large project could help get me out of my knitting rut. I haven't managed to complete a project since the embossed leaves socks, even though I've been spending a lot of time knitting.

So, I dug into my stash and, after several swatches, I decided to cast on for Mr. Greenjeans from Knitty Fall 2007.

My gauge is drastically different from that stated in the pattern, so I ended up using the stitch counts for the 3X size, even though my aim is to make the XS. The pattern gauge is 18 sts over 4" and mine is 29 sts using size 2 addi turbos and this gorgeous hand-dyed yarn I scored at a fiber festival several years ago.

I was a little nervous that this would turn out too small, but it looks good so far and this picture includes an error I made with my stitch counts, so its actually an inch smaller than it should be. I love those happy accidents!

I only have two skeins of this yarn and these pictures are at the end of the first skein (you may be able to see the small amount of yarn I'm holding in the above picture--that's what's left from skein #1!). I may significantly modify this pattern as I near the end of the second skein--we'll see. For now, I'm happy to be out of my rut and I can't put this project down!

Like, out of this world good!

{ Saturday, January 26, 2008 }

I was given a copy of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World for christmas and drooled over each and every recipe before deciding on this one--peanut butter chocolate heavencakes. These were amazing and not just "good, for vegan cupcakes." These were possibly the best cupcakes I've ever had--vegan or not. I used Vahlrona chocolate and organic natural peanut butter, which may have made a big difference in the flavor, but I'm sure this recipe rocks either way. Although they contain no animal products, they're far from healthy, so I made a half batch for me and my sweetie. We gobbled up these 8 in no time, though. Oops!

Over the holidays, my cookie baking was all-consuming, but now that things are settling down a little, I've gotten some cooking done too. I made a decent Thai green curry and I think I may have finally perfected my vegan palak paneer. I've been making all these vegan recipes, but you know, I still haven't managed to make the transition full-time. I travel a huge amount for work and I've struggled to maintain a vegetarian diet while eating out and I'm starting to wonder if the vegan thing is going to be just too hard. At least for now, I'm OK with falling off the wagon once in a while.
I can't even believe I'm saying this, but I've also had time to knit in this first part of 2008! I'm very excited to share my new projects. Soon, soon!