Friday, June 28, 2013

friday faves, vol. 2

back again with this week's faves! 

--first up, our lovely neighbors who borrowed Nick's truck for their latest landscaping project, and returned it with this. i sense cheddar biscuits in our future...

--this zucchini recipe that looks so extra fantastically delicious i can't even handle it. this is definitely going to be put to good use during the latter months of CSA. 

-- the parents who thought up this brilliant contraption. you better believe the Will children are going to be well-acquainted with this, unless they happen to inherit all of Nick's easygoing-child ways. (ha.)

The mom who came up with the "get along shirt."

-- this side dish that combines buffalo chicken, cheese, and potatoes in a win-win situation for your tastebuds and the manufacturer of Lipitor. 

-- and speaking of cats, this pair never ceases to provide dramatic entertainment at our house. maybe they could use a Get Along shirt. (also, please note Nick's sock laid down as a battle line.) 

Monday, June 24, 2013

19 weeks!


bump watch: so at my last appointment with the midwife, she said, "any time in the next few weeks, you'll wake up one morning and look pregnant." and she was right.
sweet pea: weighs ten whole ounces and measures 6 1/2 inches long! that moves us right up the produce line-up to a small cantaloupe.  according to the picture, it looks like baby is starting to chub up a little (that makes two of us, kid!). the exciting developmental milestone for this week is ... formation of the ovaries (complete with seven million eggs!) if sweetpea's a girl, and testicular descent if he or she is a he. 

Fetal Development Week 20

best moment: feeling so much kicking! i've felt movement at least once every day this week. sometimes just a single poke, other times a legitimate dance party. still can't feel anything from the outside yet, but it is the best thing ever. it really does feel like something is giving you a gentle tap from the inside, and sometimes it almost tickles. either way, i find myself holding my breath so as not to confuse my own body movements with baby's!

symptoms: definitely not able to bend as easily as i'm used to (and yes, i'm aware this is only the tip of the iceberg). i've taken to just squatting straight down instead of hinging at the middle if i need to pick up something off the floor. 

cravings: herr's baked cheddar and horseradish chips. that bag only lasted 2 days and therefore i refuse to purchase another one for at least a month. so ridiculously good.  

what i miss: going on roller coasters and organ-smashing rides like the Exterminator at Kennywood
looking forward to: our second trimester ultrasound this Saturday! hard to believe it's here already. we're still planning to keep the gender a surprise, and i can't wait to see sweet pea's dance moves in action! 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

csa night

we go into some CSA nights with multiple recipes for a three-course meal and a definite plan of how we're using all of that week's produce. this was not one of those nights. and i think it speaks to our budding cooking knowledge (and our obsession with Master Chef) that we're starting to figure out how to just throw stuff in a pot and have it actually turn out to be dinner. 

so, without further ado, i bring you CSA Night: Week Two. 

chicken & chard salad

3 chicken breasts, cooked and diced
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 head lettuce, washed and torn into bite-size pieces
1 head Swiss chard, leaves washed and torn into bite-size pieces
3 hydroponic tomatoes, chopped
1 cucumber, diced
4 oz blue cheese crumbles
balsamic vinegar
olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Toss diced chicken with garlic salt and crushed red pepper. Divide Swiss chard leaves and lettuce among four bowls. Top with chopped vegetables, blue cheese crumbles, and chicken. In a small bowl, mix equal parts balsamic vinegar and olive oil with 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning. Serve over salad. 

kohlrabi risotto

1 lb kohlrabi, peeled and diced
1 zucchini, sliced
1 bunch green onions, sliced
1 head broccoli, chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 sweet onion, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
7 to 8 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 bunch kale, washed and torn into bite size pieces
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Bring chicken stock to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Saute kohlrabi, zucchini, garlic, broccoli, and sweet onion until tender. 
2. Add rice to the vegetables and stir constantly, adding 1/2 cup of stock at a time and continuing to stir until the rice has absorbed all the liquid. Repeat with the remainder of the stock in 1/2 cup increments, about 20-25 minutes. 
3. Stir in kale and allow to wilt. Serve topped with Parmesan cheese and additional pepper if desired. 

also on the menu: homemade strawberry crumble, courtesy of Caleb, who didn't use a recipe at all for baking which is way harder than not using a recipe for cooking, and it was still delicious. annnnd the original New Orleans cocktail, the Sazerac, in honor of the show Jon and Blair recently stage-managed. i think we can consider this a three-course meal after all. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

friday faves, vol. 1

just a smattering of goodness from this past week! 

-- this spectacular discussion about purity from one of the funniest and most genuine blogs i've ever read, Jamie the Very Worst Missionary. i've never heard some of the particular points she makes, and they just make sense. 

there's so much more to it than this...

-- starbucks hazelnut macchiatos on a rainy day. i can't explain why they're so delicious. nor can i explain how Very, Very First World i feel going through a starbucks drive-thru. 

-- sangria slushies from pink parsley. i can't even. i mean, literally i can't until November. but when that blessed month rolls around and i can imbibe guilt-free, i'll be whipping out the blender to make these, snow on the ground or not.

-- these mini buckwheat bacon pancakes with bourbon syrup, from the genius mind of Jessica at How Sweet Eats. the buckwheat makes them super healthy, right? 

Thursday, June 20, 2013


lots of great things happening this week. for one thing, it's actually looked like summer outside (and felt like it on those fleeting occasions when i'm not at work, taking care of housewifely things, or, you know, glued to HBO's Girls. we're not spiffy enough to actually have HBO so i've been getting installments of the first season from Netflix and it. is. so. funny and i'm hoping that the fact that they're all making dumb, annoying choices circa Episode 5 is part of the appeal of "remember how dumb and annoying we were when we were 22?" and not a portent of things to come.)

anyway. so this week heralded my fortuitous re-discovery of iced tea in the quest for keeping hydration exciting. behold:

this decaf ginger peach iced tea from the republic of tea (and, more directly, from Mom) is the epitome of exciting hydration. at least, the non-alcoholic kind of exciting hydration. it's been chilling in my curvaceous pitcher from Home Goods all week and i can't get enough. 

then there's the thrill of finding new music on Pandora. i'm still so tickled that we can stream Pandora on our TV through the PlayStation even though it's been set up that way for a year. i don't even know what i'd do if we had a DVR. 

actually, i do know what i'd do. i'd set it to record the Roseanne-a-thon that occurs every so often (but certainly not often enough). Darlene is by far my favourite, with old Becky a close second. new Becky just looks weird and isn't snarky enough. 

and i just can't get used to David as Leonard in The Big Bang Theory. i keep expecting him to pop around a corner and say "Yes, Mrs. Conner!"


but none of these delights can compare to the joy of Nick announcing that he's stumbled upon some treasures to contribute to our home decor. previous treasures have included gigantic ceramic ash trays with attached figurines and awesomely named street signs (Boozer Lane, for one). this particular haul has sentimental value, as it came from the house of our dear friend's elderly aunt who passed away. Nick's eyes were wide with excitement as he described this house as "something straight out of American Pickers!" which is the highest praise he can give a house, in case you were wondering. 

his first find was a necessary addition to our burgeoning collection of old school Christmas lights: the coveted bubble light. 

i'm pretty sure these are a fire hazard even without being plugged into an electrical socket, but that just adds to the excitement of Christmas. and then there's a whole package of bona fide metal tinsel, which, i have to admit, does make for a very Winter Wonderland tree when combined with dollops of Ivory Snow. and last but not least, his pride and joy: this foil Tannenbaum on a styrofoam base that promises to feature prominently in our children's holiday memories. 

love you, babe! 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

down the hatch

so it turns out that Kaiser, though he's a fantastic guard dog and gives the best non-droolcovered kisses, is not so fantastic at swallowing pills on command. we've tried a few tricks in the past when he had to take the pain medication tramadol for tendinitis, but that was only a few pills a day. we had to come up with a better plan when we were faced with this line-up twice a day:

peanutbutter worked sporadically, but the problem was he'd somehow manage to lick all the peanutbutter off the pill and just when we thought he'd swallowed the medicine, it would drop on the floor with an impertinent plunk. he likes honey, but it was the same story. he'd ferret out a pill in his kibble or cottage cheese. then one glorious day, Nick in his infinite wisdom decided to try with pepperoni. 

so now the ritual goes something like this. 

"Kaiser! want some pepperoni?" 

cue 85-pound German shepherd barreling into the kitchen and immediately sitting in front of us.

"okay, here it comes ..."

"Kaiser, platz." (oh yes, he's trained in German. 

then his "release" word: "Okay!!!"

yep. it works. so well that after all five pills are down the hatch, i usually give him a few extra pieces of pepperoni because, how could you resist this face? 

Monday, June 17, 2013

18 weeks!


bump watch: it's now more like, "watch me try on clothes that don't fit anymore." the shirt in the above photo is on its last legs, despite the help of my beloved bella band
sweet pea: is the size of a large mango - six inches long and weighing half a pound! when i first read that statistic, i immediately thought of my usual cheese order at the deli (a half pound of pepper jack, or dill Havarti for special occasions). and that's weirdly appropriate because this is the stage where vernix, the cheesy coating that protects baby's skin, starts to form. 

Fetal Development Week 19

best moment: getting to hear baby's heartbeat for the second time at my 17 week appointment! everything sounded perfect. sweetpea must be a speedy swimmer, though, because the nurse practitioner started listening over my right lower belly and then moved the doppler all around without locating the heartbeat. not a fun thirty seconds. then she started over in the same spot and lo and behold, it was right there galloping away. little stinker! 

symptoms: no more movement yet, which makes me wonder if what i felt last week was truly baby or not. oh well. i'd far rather be having quickening (the official medical term for detectable fetal movement!) than the intermittent swelling that's already started up on hot days, when i exercise, or if i overdo the salt. 

cravings: gyros. we ordered lunch from a fantastic Greek place near work last week, and it was phenomenal. i could eat the tzatziki with a spoon. 

what i miss: having a full wardrobe to choose from. luckily, a package from motherhood maternity is en route to me with a pair of black dress pants, a belted shirtdress and a maxi dress ... crossing fingers they fit! i had to send back a package from the Gap last week because all of the clothes fit so strangely - tight in certain spots and way too loose in others - not flattering in the slightest. 
looking forward to: continuing to round out our supply of baby must-haves! one sweet lady in our choir dropped off her barely-used Evenflo highchair this week. the seat can be positioned upright or reclining, and it has 8 different adjustable height positions, plus a dishwasher-safe insert for the tray. sweet pea is already well-loved!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

csa night

for the last few years, we've gone in together to buy a share of produce from the Dillner Family Farm's CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program, and it's become a highlight of the summer. for one thing, we get to exclaim over and figure out what to do with such assorted veggies as kohlrabi, scapes (the shoots from garlic plants), and more greens than you can shake a stick at. plus, since there are always at least four of us cooking, we can put together elaborate dinners and brainstorm flavor profiles (oh, there are so many flavor profiles) way outside the scope of what any of us would do on our own. 

tonight's repast didn't push the culinary envelope, per se, but it hit the spot. plus we learned a lot about Caleb, including the fact that since his mother always made her own fresh whipped cream, he never quite mastered the art of the perfect Reddi-Wip garnish. 

le menu:

garlic butter steak salads

recipe adapted from here

for the steak:

2 TBSP minced garlic
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 TBSP minced fresh parsley
black pepper
2 lbs sirloin steak
olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine butter, minced garlic, parsley and black pepper in a small bowl. Scrape butter mixture onto a sheet of plastic wrap and roll into a log. Twist the ends closed. Refrigerate for 10 minutes to let set. 

Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat. Add 1/4 cup olive oil and heat until shimmering. Rub salt and pepper over both sides of the steak. Add steak to skillet and cook for 3 minutes until well browned. Turn and cook for another 3 minutes, or until browned. Remove steak from skillet and repeat with remaining pieces if needed. Reserve oil in skillet. Transfer steak to baking sheet. Cut butter log into slices and arrange on top of each steak. Bake on middle rack 4-6 minutes for rare, 6-8 minutes for medium rare, and 8-10 minutes for medium. Let rest on clean cutting board for 5 minutes, then slice into strips. 

for the salad:
1 head lettuce
1 bunch spinach
1 red bell pepper
2 tomatoes
2 scapes
1 cucumber
blue cheese crumbles
3 TBSP balsamic vinegar
3 TBSP olive oil

Wash greens and tear into bite size pieces. Chop bell pepper, tomatoes, and cucumber. Slice scapes and saute in cast iron skillet with reserved oil for 2-3 minutes, until browned and slightly softened. Drain. In small bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar and olive oil. 

To assemble salads, divide greens into four bowls, then top with chopped vegetables. Lay steak strips over salad and sprinkle blue cheese crumbles on top. Serve with balsamic vinaigrette. 

- - - - - - - 

strawberry shortcakes

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 egg, beaten
3 cups sliced fresh strawberries
3 TBSP white sugar
whipped cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder and cream of tartar in Kitchenaid with dough hook attachment. Cut in butter. Stir in cream and egg. Mix on medium speed for 2-4 minutes, until dough comes together. 

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead 2 minutes. Press into a half-inch thick sheet. Cut into squares and arrange on baking sheet. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until golden. 

Sprinkle 3 tablespoons sugar over sliced berries. Let shortcakes cool. Layer slices strawberries and whipped cream over short cakes and serve. 

- - - - - - - 

and that brings us to the most memorable part of the night, when we discovered that if you, in fact, grow up in Connecticut and your mother makes everything from scratch, you think this is an acceptable way to add whipped cream to a dessert: 

poor Caleb stood in the kitchen, innocently traversing the surface of his shortcake with a sorry little line of whipped cream, while we laughed so hard we couldn't speak. and it takes a lot for us not to speak. oh, CSA, we learn about so much more than cooking with you in our lives...

Thursday, June 13, 2013


for some reason, i was absolutely ravenous by the time i left work tonight. the kind of ravenous that demands to be fed, now, not when you get home and lovingly prepare a meal from scratch. plus, Nick's teaching an organ lesson two hours away in Altoona this evening and spending the night at his parents' house, so it's just me and the menagerie.

so i contemplated these facts for about seven seconds before deciding to try out the new bacon habanero ranch quarter pounder at McD's. sad to say, it's a sorry substitute for the Angus mushroom & swiss, but i was most delighted to observe this woman with the best purse i've ever seen. (if you can't tell from the crappy iphone photo, it's a miche bag with an alcohol-themed cover -- shakers, olives, martini glasses and strainers.) i just can't compete with that. to top it off, she then informed her friend that she was on her way to work and "just had a glass of wine". 

yep. you win. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

mirror, mirror, on the wall...

...who's the worst mother of them all??? 

the story starts on Saturday, when the dilapidated full length mirror that has been hanging on the back of our bedroom door by three poorly mounted corners finally bit the dust. the whole bedroom really needs an overhaul, but i've been too busy pinning nursery decor ideas to actually get up off my butt and do anything about it. so the mirror gently slid down the door, and i equally gently propped it up against the rear wall of the bedroom until i could take care of it. 

that night, while i was at Duquesne's performance of the State of the Union, and Nick was doing yard work, Kaiser somehow knocked down the mirror, and the top corner broke off in the process. and then, he sliced his rear leg on the broken piece of glass. so when Nick came back into the house, he found Kaiser waiting patiently at the back door surrounded by a pool of blood. ingenious husband that he is, he managed to wash out the wound with soap and water, then bandage Kaiser's leg with a thick washcloth secured with a rubber band. the cut stopped bleeding and Kaiser was running around just fine, so we thought that would be that. 

not so. Sunday morning while Nick was playing for mass, i ran out to the pharmacy to grab some Kerlix (that self-clinging rolled gauze), and returned home triumphant, ready to put my PA skills to use. Kaiser had other plans. while i was trying to get that dang Kerlix to stick, he yanked his leg out of my hand and immediately tore the wound right open again. this time, it was like a red sprinkler spurting all over the kitchen and family room floor, my legs, the towels we had laid down on the floor and oh yes, a corner of the wall too. i finally wadded up five paper towels and slapped them over the laceration, secured it with masking tape, threw a few beach towels down in the back seat of the car and coaxed Kaiser inside. 

the bloody aftermath (also, our lineoleum which i would dearly love to replace): 

never have i been more grateful for emergency vets who are open on weekends. they took him right back and delivered the news that he would, indeed, need stitches. they confirmed that he hadn't lacerated a tendon or any other deep structures, thank goodness. since he had eaten breakfast only 3 hours before, they wanted to hold him for a few hours before they anesthetized him, so poor puppy had to stay in a room until it was safe to put him under. Nick came up to the vet's as soon as he was done playing for mass and we sat with all the other puppy parents, our heads snapping up like anxious turtles every time a staff member came out from the exam rooms. they finally told us that he wouldn't be ready to go home until at least 5 p.m., so we came home and cleaned up the mess. then Nick had to play for a wedding (oh, the life of a church musician!), and i headed back up to the vet's at 5:30 to pick up our puppy. 

i figured he'd be a little dopey from all the meds, and was not expecting him to run full tilt down the hall towards me with the vet tech gallantly running along side. sure enough, the dopiness kicked in when we tried to go outside and poor Kaiser kept running into the side of the door. he was so bleary-eyed but ate and drank without a problem. and we just can't get over the cone. his poor ears can't even stand up right. 

so we're now on Cone Day #3 out of 10, and he's slowly adjusting to it. still bouncing off walls from time to time, and he's vicious when he comes running up behind you (the edges of that cone are sharp!). but he's figured out how to carry around toys and rawhides in the cone, so he runs around with his head tipped up until he's ready to chew on them, at which point he slowly lowers his head until they slip towards the mouth of the cone and he grabs them before they fall. that's our boy. 

and that's why i will never again leave a mirror unsecured against a wall. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

17 weeks!


bump watch: i think we're about the same as 16 weeks. basically, when i'm sitting, it still looks like i have a major case of the munchies, but standing or laying down flat, it's a lot more noticeable! i've gained 8-10 pounds (depends on the day!) from my pre-pregnancy weight, and a lot of that is in the tummy and butt too, so it hides the bump a little. 
sweet pea: is now a sweet potato! if that sweet potato were five and a half inches long and weighed five ounces, that is. baby can now hiccup and yawn, and has fully developed finger prints. and all kinds of movement is going on now, which serves to reinforce the growing web of neural connections that are multiplying exponentially in baby's brain. all that fish oil better be doing its thing! 

Fetal Development Week 18

best moment: speaking of movement ... i'm pretty sure i felt sweet pea for the first time on Saturday! i was just sitting (well, lounging) in our recliner, reading my kindle, and suddenly felt a few brief pop-pop-pops a few inches below my belly button. haven't felt anything since, but it was such a distinctive feeling and definitely nothing i'd ever experienced before. 

symptoms: it's already getting harder to bend over, which does not bode well for the next several months. this morning, i was leaning over in my office chair to plug in the microphone we use for dictating charts to the USB slot on the computer tower, when i inadvertently let out a noise reminiscent of a dying moose. one of my supervising physicians was in the hallway and asked in obvious terror, "what was that?!?" "just Kate bending over!" came the chorus of helpful replies. geez Louise... 

cravings: sparkling water of any variety. target makes a cherry limeade that's sooo delicious. i'm trying to steer clear of artificial sweeteners, though, so i often turn to flavored seltzer water (tangerine's my current fave) for some guilt-free bubbly. 

what i miss: beer. after a hectic Sunday (poor Kaiser needed to be rushed to the emergency vet,  Nick played for three morning masses plus a wedding), we were relaxing on the back porch while burgers sizzled on the grill. that's a moment that calls for a leinenkugel with an orange slice. or a smithwicks. or an unassumingly delicious yuengling. 
looking forward to: 17 week check up tonight! can't wait to hear sweet pea's heartbeat again. it's all going by so fast! 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

15 & 16 weeks!


bump watch: ta da! sweet pea is definitely making his/her presence known (as is the tag on my shirt ... full disclosure: i made Nick take another picture from the other side after i realized the tag was showing,  but the angle was less than flattering and i need all the help i can get!). you'll notice i had a mom-fail and didn't get a 15 week picture, but there truly hasn't been much change in the belly since last week! 
sweet pea: is five inches long and weighs three ounces. the powers that be at What to Expect When You're Expecting say that this is turnip-sized (um... not so cute), but they also throw out the more appealing notion that the baby is about the size of your open hand. the very best part is that sweet pea can now hear outside noises along with my voice. this means getting early exposure to organ music and NPR (to Nick's delight), and to the theme songs from Gossip Girl and True Blood, along with the Ke$ha and PitBull concert i went to last weekend (much to Nick's chagrin). it still feels weird to talk directly to my belly, but we sure talk about sweet pea a lot! 

Fetal Development Week 17

best moment: going on a shopping spree that didn't break the bank last week! my lovely mother-in-law  asked if i'd like to stop by a kids' consignment store by their house. it was amazing. super cute clothes for $1-3 a piece, plus a good selection of maternity clothes for 50-75% off retail prices. i even got the most punny breastfeeding pillow in all the land - My Brest Friend (yepppp) - for $15! it comes with a super cute washable cover with pockets for your cell phone, lotion, water bottle, and whatever other accouterments one might need. 

symptoms: so far so good the past few weeks. i haven't yet experienced the typical second-trimester ravenousness, and the belly hasn't gotten to an uncomfortable stage yet. enjoying this while it lasts! 

cravings: cookies & cream ice cream. and my beloved Bottom Dollar had a sale last week that included quarts of Breyer's (my fave!) for $2. now that's what i call The Stars Aligning. 

what i miss: a giant plate of sushi, served with a concoction of wasabi swirled into soy sauce. mmmm. i guess i could substitute a california roll that doesn't include any raw fish, but it's just not the same. 
looking forward to: still the anatomy scan (now scheduled for June 29!), but with even more excitement: we can bring a blank rewritable DVD to the appointment, and they'll record a portion of the ultrasound! this makes my Camera Katie heart exuberantly happy.