Saturday, October 31, 2009

An Autumn Tradition

Caroline Joy Photography is having a fall contest! Write a blog post about your favorite fall tradition and mention her in your blog, linking back to it, and be entered in a drawing for a $50 Anthropologie gift card. Read all about it here.

One of my favorite fall traditions is baking. Of course, I love to bake all year round, but there's just something about cooler, crisp air, and fall flavors that makes it more enjoyable, and almost more appropriate. Coming in from the cool weather outside to a house full of the smells of spices seems so...perfect. Now, seeing how it's fall, there's just something about baking with pumpkin. Is it just me, or does pumpkin pie just a 4th of July picnic, or even at a New Years party? Pumpkin belongs with fall like watermelon belongs with summer.

Back in 2004 when I lived in Poland, finding canned pumpkin was (and probably still is) impossible. Fresh pumpkins were almost impossible to find, but I found one, just in time for Thanksgiving!

Pumpkin Pie coffee creamer is only available during select (read: fall) seasons. Just like pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks, pumpkin muffins at The Moose is Loose, and fun-sized bags of Snickers bars. Sigh.

Pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies, and even pumpkin-flavored coffee have always been a part of my fall baking repertoire. But this year, for the first time, I ventured into the unknown: baking pumpkin pancakes. Last fall, Shannon and I went out for breakfast one morning and I tried pumpkin pancakes. They were so good that I wanted to make my own, but the craziness of the fall semester prevented me from ever trying to make them. This year, with leftover pumpkin in the fridge and a free morning, I conquered my fears and emerged victorious.

My first attempt at pumpkin pancakes. The result: delicious!

So...pumpkin pie, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin bread, and pumpkin cheesecake. Anyone out there have any other pumpkin recipes? Biscotti or scones, perhaps? Pumpkin cake or soup? We still have almost a month until Black Friday when fall is officially over, ushering in the Christmas season. So I still have a month with my friend the pumpkin before holly, mistletoe, and mulling spices take over. Please, bombard me with your favorite fall flavors!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bargain Buys (or Blessings)

God is always so good to us, often in ways that we can't understand or don't expect. Take these three examples of God's goodness in unexpected, often small, ways:

Winter boots for Shannon.

A few weeks ago I stopped into the Salvation Army to see if they had any good, nice baby clothes. They didn't. But what they did have were brand new, tags-still-on-them, winter boots, guaranteed for up to -10 Fahrenheit, in what I thought was Shannon's size, for $20. So I got Shannon to go and try on a pair, they fit just perfectly, and so we bought them. Many places it's not necessary to have winter boots, and he probably would have survived 3 months of winter in Alaska without a pair, but they sure will be nice and keep his feet dry and warm while he shovels snow this winter, or goes out to the freezer to get meat/fish/bread/whatever we need from it. Plus, they fit me too, so I can wear them if I need to go outside for something!

A nearly-new carseat, given to us by friends.

My friends Joe and Emily had a baby boy back in May. They had bought him this carseat only to find out after he was born that he hated it. He would scream his head off the entire car ride anytime they took him anywhere. So they bought him a new one (so he could sit up more) after suffering his screams for 6 or 8 weeks, and saved this one to give to us! Even if Lane hates this carseat as much as Joe and Emily's boy did, we won't be using it that much in the 6ish weeks that we're here after she's born, and we could buy one that attaches to a stroller once we're back in the Lower 48. We didn't want to do that here, because there's no need for a stroller in Kenai in January and February, and there was no point in lugging it back down South. Now we don't have to even think about what's the best thing to do, because we have a carseat no matter what!

39 ounces of coffee for $1.49.

Yesterday my mom and I went to the store to stock up on carrots (between the two of us we've bought about 40 pounds of carrots: they were on sale for $1.29/2 pounds and good, and we can keep them under the house for use all winter). While picking up a few other random items and walking by the "reduced cart," I spied this can of coffee. Medium roast, seal unbroken, but marked down to $1.49 because of the large dent in the side. A can of store-brand coffee up here runs at least 6 or 7 dollars, and for a brand that anyone's actually heard of it's more like 10 or 11 dollars. With 3 1/2 coffee drinkers (I'm the 1/ doctor told me I could have 1 cup a day if I wanted to, but I only do a few days a week) in the house, we go through coffee quite quickly. It just goes to show that God cares about us, even in the small stuff.

I could go on and on about the many ways that we have been blessed (a king-size bed for me and Shannon that my mom found for $15, being eligible for WIC and the help that has been with the grocery budget, Shannon's being hired even though they knew he'd only be there until February, a friend letting us borrow a car while we got the flat tires on another fixed...), but there's just not room. I think it is sufficient to say that God is good all the time; all the time, God is good!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

30 Weeks

30 week belly pic.

As of yesterday I am 3/4 though my first pregnancy. January 5th is only 10 weeks away! It's so crazy that we will be parents around Christmas or New Years! When people find out that Lane's due date is the 5th, they always say, "Maybe you'll have a New Years baby!" with lots of excitement. Personally, we don't want a New Years baby. I already share my birthday with the rest of the world...I don't want to share it with my firstborn child as well, thank you very much!

Next Friday I have a doctor's appointment. I get to eat 12 jellybeans in 2 minutes and then get screened for gestational diabetes! How thrilling. :-) Hopefully that test will come back negative...I don't know how well I could handle giving myself shots for 9 weeks. Other than the diabetes test, I'm not sure what to expect next week. They'll probably just see how much weight I've gained and we'll get to hear Lane's heartbeat again, and maybe they'll measure me to see how big my uterus is.

I've been feeling fine, a little more tired than I was the past couple of months, but not too tired. In my first trimester I needed a nap every day, otherwise I could barely function. As long as I get a decent night's sleep now, I'm fine, although a nap is certainly nice sometimes! I'm certainly still hungry a lot, but it seems to fluctuate: some days I'm starving all day long, and other days I eat probably less than I ate before I was pregnant. I'm getting some exercise walking around at work, and since it's been chilly and gloomy here, Shannon and I haven't been going for walks together very often. I feel like I'm doing pretty well, physically, although I miss having stomach muscles to help me get out of bed without rolling to my side first! Lane is a wiggly baby. She hasn't been kicking very much, but she definitely squirms and wiggles around, probably trying to get more comfortable in the limited space available! She's still doing the "vibrating" thing sometimes too. I don't think she has the hiccups, because her movements are never very regular, but sometimes it feels like she's shaking. Surely she's not cold! :-)

That's about all that's happening, pregnancy-wise. Shannon had to fly to Alabama for his grandmother's funeral about two weeks ago, so our lives were a little crazy because of that. But now he's back and working and we're hopefully getting into a somewhat normal schedule for a couple of months, until Lane comes and changes everything up on us!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

28 Weeks

28 weeks. I've definitely got a bump now!

I am officially in my third trimester now! Actually, I think I'm about a week into the third trimester. I had a doctor's appointment last week to meet the doctor who will deliver Lane, and he said that everything looks good. He measured my belly and we got to hear her heartbeat for the first time. I really like the doctor, Dr. Deede. He's probably in his late 50's and has been around the peninsula for a long time and has delivered lots of babies. It makes me happy to know that I'll have someone who has lots of experience. He also said that babies come when they come, often to around 2 weeks before or after your official due date. This makes me happy to know that he won't push for a c-section if I'm a week past due, especially since Lane is still measuring about 10 days smaller than "normal" for her due date.

Anyhow, all is good with the pregnancy. Lane is quite active sometimes (usually when I'm trying to go to sleep!), and I can feel her squirming around or rolling over, but I think she's too big to do flips/somersaults. She should be about 14 inches long and about 2 pounds by this point. Sometimes I can feel her "vibrating"...I don't know how else to describe it. I think maybe she has the hiccups? I'm trying to get out and walk 2 miles a day when it's not raining, and waiting tables is helping me to stay active some. I had envisioned running up until I was 7 or 8 months pregnant, but the 5 or 6 weeks I took off for packing/moving/back pain really did me in...I don't think I could start running again now. So I'll have to be content with walking.

Other than the pregnancy, life is going well up here in Alaska. The weather yesterday was so nice that Shannon actually turned on the cool air in the car! He says it wasn't the AC, but it was blowing cool air, so he admits that it was 58 degrees! It was quite nice. Today is foggy and in the 40's. Fall is almost over. We had a lot of wind and rain the past few days, so most of the leaves are gone and all the fireweed is dead. It's starting to look gloomy and this is the time of year that I long for beautiful snow to cover up all the ugly dead stuff.

Shannon has officially started his job, and he thinks that he's going to like it alright. It's not exactly what he thought it would be, but he still thinks it will be just fine. My job is going well and will be nice to help create a financial buffer for when the baby comes and I don't work anymore. So all is well!

My 16-year old brother goes to play football for the State Championship this update will surely come if they win! Last weekend he caught an interception and returned it for a touchdown...not too shabby for a defenseman!