Monday, November 29, 2010

Bath Snowballs

A couple years ago for Christmas gifts I made these bath snowballs. Not only did they look gorgeous but they were excellent for a long winter soak in the tub. This is from the Martha Stewart magazine so for instructions on how to make them click here.
The ingredient list is short; just Epsom salts, essential oil, water and food coloring. When I made these in 2008 I made them just like in the magazine. Though the soft blue and peppermint oil make for a lovely bath, I think I might try something different this year. Perhaps pink with grapefruit or purple with lavender....
My recommendation for packaging would be some sort of clear container since they look so pretty. The important thing to remember is that if you are giving it to someone to store in the bathroom make sure the container seals well enough to keep out the moisture (the container in the picture above was just a food storage container from Zellers).

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Recipe: Salmon and Sweet Potato Cakes

This is a recipe from Mothering magazine. We had these the other night for dinner and they were so tasty! They would make a great appetizer for holiday potlucks.

You will need:
12 oz canned wild salmon
2 large sweet potatoes, cubed
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/3 cup parsley, finely chopped
1 scallion, chopped
3 tbsp ground flaxseed
3 eggs
3 tbsp olive oil

Boil sweet potatoes for 15 minutes or until tender. Drain and mash in large bowl. Add drained salmon and remaining ingredients, except the oil. Mix well. Shape mixture into palm-sized patties.
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add patties and cook until undersides are slightly golden (about 3 mins per side). Serve and enjoy.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

30 weeks

We are nearing the end! Time seems to be slowing down a bit now that the end is in sight. I have 5 more weeks of work before I go on maternity leave. To be honest, I really wish I could leave now. I work with children in the community and there are a lot of parents who bring their children to our programs even when they are quite sick. I can't do much to keep these colds away. I've had 3 illnesses in the past 2 months. I'm getting really tired of sniffling and coughing. Plus I just feel like I have so much to do at home that maybe 2-6 weeks won't be enough.
Christmas is coming and I am so excited. This will be our first Christmas as a married couple and our last as just the two of us. Usually I spend much of December making gifts. I feel like homemade gifts mean so much more. This year however, I have been piling in as many hour at work as I can so we can better afford my maternity leave. I'm going to try to spend my evenings crafting and baking but we will see how well that plan goes.
I'm starting to feel like a big slow blob. Last week it snowed quite a bit here so I had to leave my car and walk to work. My belly felt so heavy and it seemed like I was never going to make it work. The babe is pushing on my diaphragm so I feel very out of breath and my hips are sore so I more waddle than walk. Getting a much sleep as possible is on the top of my list. Thank goodness for my body pillow because without it I'm pretty sure sleep would be a lot harder to get.
We are almost totally prepared, product-wise, for the babe. We have our Arms Reach co-sleeper, Beco carrier, Britax car seat, more clothes than my baby could ever need, a couple different types of diapers, bedding, receiving blankets and we are starting to get our homebirth supplies together. I'm really starting to feel excited about this birth. We are almost done our childbirth preparation classes and I think we both are feeling really good about our decision to birth at home. We have also chosen a doula to help us through the process. Yes, I still feel nervous but I am confident that I am making good choices.
Just 7 more weeks and I'll be considered full-term. I can't wait!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Local Eating - Winter Style

Yes, winter is upon us and so begins the challenges of local eating. I find that it is easy to get people excited about local eating and motivated to get out there and find local sources of food in the spring and summer, when fruits and veggies are plentiful. However, once the colder temperatures hit most people give up and hit the big grocery stores. This year is a slightly bigger challenge for us since I did not put nearly as much time and effort in to preserving this year. None-the-less, there are lots of ways to keep your diet local throughout the winter.
If you are like me and did not get around to canning those summer harvests, fear not, someone in your community did. Christmas craft fairs are great places to find preserves. You can usually find a wide variety of jams, chutneys, jellies, sauces and preserves. If you are wondering where they got all their produce just ask, most craft vendors love to tell you about their product.
Although it is cold out, here on the west coast we can still get produce. Take a drive through the rural areas and you might be surprised to see farm stands still going. Leeks, squash, brussel sprouts and root veggies can be grown into the winter. Also, keep your eyes out for greenhouse operations, they will be able to supply you with salad greens and other veggies throughout the winter.
Meat is the thing to get you through the winter when it comes to local eating. We usually eat a mainly vegetarian diet in the summer/fall but in the colder months we turn to roast and stews. We have found that throughout winter local beef, lamb, poultry and fish is available and usually not all that hard to find. 
Don't be afraid to ask around. You might be surprised at the resources that are available in the cold months of winter. Eating locally is not hard not matter what season, as long as you take the time to be informed about what you have at your disposal.

If you live on Vancouver Island here are a couple resources where you can likely find some good local food:
Mitchell Bros. Farm in Saanich is open year-round 250-652-6770
Stonefield Farms in Mill Bay offers organic meat and can deliver 250-743-3861
Touch of Saltspring Craft Fair includes artisans and local preserves 250-655-0967
Galey Farms in Saanich is also open year-round for produce 250-477-5713
Apple Luscious on Saltspring Island has apples through fall and early winter
Victoria Winter Market runs from November until March on the 3rd Saturday of each month in Market Square
Terra Nossa in Mill Bay also offer meat products 250-743-7484
Little Qualicum Cheeseworks in Parksville supplies local cheese year round 250-954-3931
Iron Maiden Seafood in Sooke has fresh sustainable BC seafood year round 250-642-3551
Fresh Beginnings Organic Farm in Saanich offers year round produce 250-658-2585

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Attitude of Motherhood

As I get deeper and deeper into this mommy world I'm noticing a certain attitude that seems to be running through most circles of moms I encounter. I'm actually quite surprised at how other mothers talk to one and other. I really try to be open-minded and I believe that everyone has the right to feel what they want and express those feelings. I do, however, have a problem with people who express how they feel by tearing down how other feel. Is it really that hard to just say "I understand how you feel but I disagree". Why is it that most of these mothers feel the need to rip apart your choices and tell you why it is so bad and why you must agree with and practice what they say is right for you?
This pattern has become apparent to me especially when it comes to talking about homebirth. I am choosing to have a homebirth. I researched my choices and throughout that process I tried to keep an open mind and ultimately decided that a homebirth is right for me. I'm not saying that I will not transfer if the need presents itself but for a normal birth I want to be in my home. There is a shocking number of mothers who gasp and say "But what about your baby?". Suddenly, I am the mother who doesn't care about her baby and is putting his/her life at risk. They continue to tell me (someone they don't even know) how my home with never be as clean as a hospital and how they could never have done it without the epidural. Then come the horror stories of emergency c-sections and the "thank goodness we were at the hospital" stories. After all this, which I graciously listen to, they say to me "what if that were to happen to you?". I smile and say, "If there is an emergency I have a fully trained midwife who make the call and if we need to transfer we have the ambulance." I think they should be able to feel however they want about hospitals, homebirth and their owns births but the idea that they know me and know what the best choice is, is strange. Did I ask you what your thoughts were? I do have a brain of my very own and I have great practice in using it to make my own choices.
The other place I encounter this attitude is while shopping for baby items. There is always some mother who has all the experience in the world telling me that I simply can not live without a baby swing. Why can't we accept and support each other in the choice that work for us as individuals? I've never had a dad come up to me and tell me I'm buying the wrong brand of diapers. Why do mothers scold each other and judge each other so harshly? I thought being in the mommy world would be comforting and supporting but I'm feeling worn down by all the judgment.
I think it also comes down to what kind of role model you want to be for your children. Do you think that when your child hears you telling another parent "Oh no, you are so wrong! You must do this!" that your kid is learning tolerance and open-mindedness? Would you want your child telling another kid that he is painting his picture wrong and that he should only use the colors that your child likes? I want my child to feel free to be the person they want to be and I want my child to know that others have that right too. I think we all need to take a moment to think before we speak. Think about how what you will say will be perceived and who is listening.
I'm terrified of what I might be like in a couple of year. Maybe it's because I don't have my baby here yet? Will I be like this after the birth? Ok blog world, if I become a judgmental know-it-all please bring me back to reality!

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Few Pregancy Blessings

It has probably become clear to those of you who read this blog that I am not having the best time being pregnant however I am thankful for a select few thing that are making the journey a little easier.
 Since about the middle of my pregnancy I would wake up in the night with terrible charlie horses in the legs and then spend the rest of the day limping around with leg cramps. So instead of having to eat half a dozen bananas everyday, I decided to try coconut water. And it seems to be working. One can of coconut water with dinner and the cramps are not a issue.
 Throughout my pregnancy there have been times when I really just need a blood sugar boost. I used to eat these before I got pregnant but now I have to have them in my fridge. I always toss one or more in my purse before I go out. If I'm feeling a little nauseous, having something like this, with a little protein, helps. Or if I'm so hungry I could eat a horse, I'll have one of these to curb that hunger until I can make a proper meal.
 This pillow has changed my life. It was a ridiculous amount of hassle to get it here but now that I have it, I'm in love. Before it arrived I was using up to 4 pillows to support my knees, back, belly and neck but every time I tried to change position one would fall off the bed and lets face it, rectangular pillows don't really mold to the contours of a pregnant body. From the moment I put this in my bed, I have always been able to find a comfortable way to sleep and I've have less stiffness and soreness in the morning. My only complaint is that the pillowcase doesn't fit very well so taking it of and putting it back on after washing is a huge fiasco.
A growing belly is a tender thing and as much as I want to squish into my pre-pregnancy pants, the discomfort is enough to make one feel nauseous. Thyme Maternity's stretchy lounge pants are amazing. I have found them so comfortable and yet warm enough to wear on those cold days we've been having. I really didn't want to spend a lot of money on maternity clothes but these pants were totally worth it.

As some of you may recall from an earlier post, I was suffering from the terrible itch that accompanies stretching skin. My belly was so bad it had broken out in hives. This is the only stuff that seems to help (plus it smells nicer than most of the artificially scented products out there). Jon rubs it on my belly every night. The hives have disappeared and the itch isn't nearly as bad. It's not doing much for the stretch marks but as long as I'm not clawing at my belly because of the horrendous itch, I'm happy.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Lest We Forget

This Remembrance Day unfortunately I was working so I was unable to attend any of the Remembrance Day ceremonies. However I did spend that remembering. I will admit that my thoughts are usually not for the veterans as a whole but that I tend to focus on one or two special people.
My grandfather was a veteran of the second World War. He passed away many years ago but I do think of him specifically every Remembrance Day. My grandfather was not a soldier but was a medic in the field. My grandmother would not let him talk about (she was also profoundly affected by the war in a very negative way that she would refuse to talk about and would not allow talk of the war in her presence). However, if my grandmother was preoccupied I would ask him about those years and after his death we found a few journal entries from when he was in Europe. Before the war my grandfather worked as an accountant, someone who's job rarely involves death. However during the war, my grandfather looked death in the face more times that I can imagine. He would have to run out to injured soldiers on the battlefield and either carry wounded out of danger and treat injuries or console those who were to injured to survive. His journals recalled men his own age shaking and weeping like children at the fear of dying. He lost many friends and comrades during those years. After his death I found a yearbook of sorts from his regiment that was compiled prior to being deployed to Europe. After the war, my grandfather had gone through and marked off the men who died in battle. There were entire pages of men who were gone.
During the war, my grandfather was awarded a purple heart for the injuries he sustained during a raid. His injuries were not enough to send him though, he said in Europe and served until the end of the war.
I never knew what my grandfather was like prior to the war but some of my relatives did. He was very changed by the war. I never asked him how he felt he changed but he did. After the war, the army offered to pay for my grandfather to attend medical school. He refused, he had seen enough death. He returned to being an accountant and he and my grandmother had another child. I think my grandfather felt a real sense of attachment to the men who lived through situations similar to his. However because of how much the war affected my grandmother, she would not allow him to participate in activities such as reunions and Remembrance Day ceremonies because she needed to pretend the war didn't happen to them. I think that hurt my grandfather, I think he would have really benefited from reuniting with other veterans and acknowledging who was lost and what had happened.
Every Remembrance Day I spend a lot of time thinking about my grandfather. He, like so many others, sacrificed a lot of himself for the life I can now live. He lost friends but I think he lost a little bit of faith and trust in us all. He was a very kind gentle man but I sort of felt as though he was defeated by his own sense of morning over what happened in those years. I'm not sure that I ever thanked him for what he did and what he gave up. But I hope that he (and everyone else who fought for our freedom) know how truly grateful I am.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Wedding Things

A couple of weeks ago I married the love of my life. And while I don't want to do an entire post on the wedding I will throw out to the internet world a few little tidbits.
 Above is my beautiful cake and amazing little guest favors. Both were made my my dear friend Kyre. The cake was perfect. We had a pumpkin spice cake with cream cheese frosting. The flavor and decoration went perfectly with our fall wedding. She also made our sugar cookie favors. Each guest got both a N cookie and a J cookie.
My flowers were another favorite from the wedding. My aunt bought the flowers and did the arrangements. It was such an amazing gift. I really wanted a seasonal wildflower type look so we worked together to decide what would look nice together. She got the most delicate fern, gorgeous red lilies and daisies and the coolest spider mums and dahlias. The arrangements on our table were in large mason jars (again so fitting with the farm theme).

 We got married on a local farm. Here on the west coast it was a real chance in terms of the weather when we planned on an October wedding. The prediction was for rain but luckily we got a lovely sunny (for the most part) day. The wedding party got ready in the amazing cottage they have on the farm (seen somewhat in the pictures above). We also managed to get all of our portraits done in the gardens on the farm. It was incredible luck that we got the perfect day we did.

All of the pictures I used here were taken by our talented photographer Jessica Bender. You can check out some of her other projects here. She is such an artist and got some truly amazing shots. The entire day was more than I could have hoped for. We had a beautiful ceremony on a beautiful day surrounded by amazing friends and family. Just looking back on these photos reminds me of the love we felt that day and I get all mushy inside!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Salmon Run 2010

A couple weeks ago, my family and I headed to Goldstream Park to witness the annual salmon run. Every year the salmon that live in the waters outside Goldstream head up stream to spawn. The stream itself isn't very deep so it is a good opportunity to watch this natural process. This year it was mostly Chum heading up stream.
At first they were tough to find but we found a narrow spot in the stream where there were quite a few struggling to get through. It was interesting to watch the group dynamic. Most didn't like others getting too close and would turn and attack if they felt they were being too close.
The park itself is definitely a cool place to check out. It was filled with wonderful little natural processes. I have a personal love of ferns and there were tons of little ferns out. We also encountered many different mushrooms during this visit. My favorite were these little ones growing on a tree.
Speaking of growing on a tree, I think nurse logs are amazing but check out this nurse stump. How cool is that tree? I love how the roots wrap around the stump. Nature just amazes me.

Goldstream is a great park to visit at any time of year but if you are on the island I would recommend checking out the salmon run. I don't think there is any other time of year when you can see so many salmon in the stream.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Ups and Downs of Pregnancy

Message to baby, written at about 2:30am....
Thanks a lot kid, what exactly is it that is comfy about my spine? Hmmmm? No, no I didn't need sleep tonight. I mean I didn't really get much sleep last night but I'm good to go 3 days with less than 8 hours total sleep. Oh please, by all means shove your butt in my hip socket, I don't need to be able to bend at the waist to get out of bed. No wait, actually I DO! Especially now that you have shoved an elbow into my bladder and I have to pee, like right now! (enter sobbing) I'm so tired and sore. I just want to sleep and go pee. (I beg Jon to roll me out of bed because my hip hurts too much to sit on the side of the bed) Why do women voluntarily do this more than once? I have 13 weeks left and I already want to curl up in a ball and die. I'm constantly hungry but nothing ever appeals to me, I constantly have to pee even though I just peed 10 minutes ago and I'm soo tired but I'm too sore to get any sleep. I think I'm about to loose my mind. (I go pee and lay back down and try to get comfy, when the rolling and kicking begins in my belly). I'm not sure that you realize this baby, but it is really difficult to sleep when you do an entire Cirque-du-Soleil show in my belly. I think you and I are going to have a problem once you are born. See, I like to sleep, I need to sleep and you are just going to have to deal with that. (I look over at Jon who is completely asleep and snoring and mumble...) Stupid Jon, look at him sleeping over there, all comfy and stuff. I hate dads, they get off so easy. Why don't you head over there and keep your dad up for a change, huh? (at about 3am I basically completely give in to the exhaustion and sleep from 3.5 hours).

Message to baby, written at about 4pm the next day...
You are so fun! I feel you kicking me baby! Can you feel my hand? I'm here. I wonder who you will be in this world. Will you love music like I do? Will you love to read like your parents? Will you love the natural world? We can't wait to take you on hikes and walks and discover all the wonder around us with you. And when you are older, we will go camping. We will have so much fun together baby! I hope I'm doing the right things for you already baby, and I hope your dad and I give you the best up-bringing we can. I hope I'm a good mom. I promise to comfort you when you cry, feed you when you are hungry, open your horizons and never hold you back from the person you want to become. (baby rolls in my belly) You seem happy today! I can't wait to meet you baby! We love you already, did you know that? I hope you can feel how much we love you. See you soon!

 Disclaimer: I do not hate my child, in the top post I was tired and grumpy and needed someone to blame. I would never wish bad things for my baby or abuse it in any way.