Thursday, December 10, 2015

Our Non-Traditional "Display" Baby Shower

First of all, we are pleased to announce that it's a girl! We waited until the baby shower two weeks ago to reveal this, which gave us a fun surprise to celebrate at the shower when we brought out the cake with this homemade topper. This was also a strategy so that we wouldn't receive too many highly gendered gifts, having seen baby girls showered with pink fluffy things and boys showered with sports and truck-covered items. 

At my behest, my mom threw a "display" shower, sometimes also known as a "naked" shower. Not only is this an environmentally friendly way to avoid giftwrap, it also helped create a fun party atmosphere. Gifts were displayed around the room, encouraging guests to walk around to check out cute baby things. Since it was a co-ed shower without too many games and without a long unwrapping session, it felt more like a regular party with plenty of time to mingle than a traditional shower.

Here are the logistics of how the display shower worked, since we had to figure some of this out as we went along, and I think it worked out pretty well. The invitation requested "We all love the trees, bring gifts unwrapped please - they will be displayed." Many gifts arrived ahead of time, which gave my mom time to devise ways to arrange them around the crib and such. We then left some table-top spaces open as display areas, with empty baskets for anyone who brought several small gifts. When guests arrived, there was a sign asking them to label their gift with a post-it and find a place to display it, which I also helped coordinate as I greeted people. Since there was no dedicated unwrapping time, we just tried to make sure that we said hi and thanked everyone at some point. As for keeping track of gifts, it helped that we used for our registry, which provides a thank you tracking list. I also went around at one point with a little notebook to make note of who gave us any non-registry gifts in case they got separated from their post-it later.

There were only two games: guess whether it's a boy or girl -- the men were more accurate than the women -- and betting on the due date -- winner gets half and we get half. We will all have to wait a while longer to find that one out.

My dad made this sweet bird mobile out of watercolors and stiff watercolor paper. Can you identify all the birds?

Also on display was the vintage bassinet filled with an amazing amount of baby clothes my mom saved from me and my sisters.

Bump to bump with my longtime friend Caitlin. I was 30 weeks at the shower, but now I'm already almost 32 weeks. Serendipitously, Caitlin got married a week after me, and now she is due three weeks after me! I have several other friends and family who had babies within the past year or are having babies in the next six months -- it is exciting to think about our kids growing up so close in age.

A week later I also had a gathering to celebrate my birthday and the impending baby with my friends in Brooklyn. We now have more baby clothes than we probably need -- mostly hand-me-downs. Most of our baby stuff is waiting patiently in our parents' houses until we are ready to set up our apartment. Thank you to everyone who has helped us celebrate and contributed to help us take care of this new life!

Friday, October 23, 2015


in front of Strawberry Lake waterfall on our trip to Oregon a couple weeks ago

Announcing...a little baby Flath due in early February! I'm 24 weeks along and everything has been going well so far. We found out whether we're having a boy or girl, but we're waiting a little longer until the baby shower to share that news.

Like many bloggers, I seem to have taken a respite during early pregnancy. Unlike most, however, I can't blame it on being wiped out by the first trimester - it was really because my time was taken away by the food coop I'm involved in, which is a story for another day.

The default question I get asked most often is 'how are you feeling?' I have been lucky enough to not really feel any more tired than usual. In fact, I've continued my habit of staying up later than I should at my computer most nights. There were times I felt like I'd rather nap than go to the gym, but it was subtle enough that I thought I might just be using pregnancy as an excuse to be lazy. I had hardly any nausea, as long as I religiously ate eggs and toast for breakfast and didn't go too long without eating. In fact, I was extremely hungry most of the first trimester. This could be because a few months of working with a personal trainer had finally ramped up my metabolism, or my body wanting more nutrients to make a baby, or both. Either way, my metabolism is normally very slow, so it was refreshing to eat as much as I wanted and have it be a positive thing.

Altogether, I felt like my normal self throughout the first normal self with a secret. It takes so many weeks before you start to show that it made me feel like, is this really going to happen? Is a baby really going to grow inside of me? I got so used to pregnancy being a secret that it was strange for it to later become a very personal thing that anyone could know about me just by looking at me. Most big life changes are not advertised across your body for strangers to know.

It wasn't until I neared 20 weeks that pregnancy started to make itself and its discomforts known. First the baby's little kicks. A change in my core strength making it difficult to haul my body from side to side and in and out of bed. Anxiety while trying to sleep, mostly out of paranoia that I shouldn't sleep in any other position than on my left side (did you know that's a thing?). Lower back pain, even though I was hoping my newfound back muscles would protect me from that. I think the back pain was actually triggered by riding a new bike, but the pregnancy is making it persist. More recently, I realized I've started having Braxton hicks contractions, though they aren't bothersome (so far). My metabolism has slowed down, as I try to keep the scale from climbing too quickly and feel extremely full two thirds of the time. There's also been a slow decline in my fitness level, probably due in part to working out less frequently and intensely.

I spent last winter mentally psyching myself up to try for this. Trying to come to terms with the idea of staying in from 6pm every night because of children's incomprehensibly early bedtimes, and just generally spending way more time inside my apartment (since I don't love my apartment). I've had nine years of the fabulous young New Yorker lifestyle of going out with friends to happy hours and restaurants and parties and even closing bars at 4am. This year, I realized those nine years could be enough. My life is so busy busy, always rushing from one thing to the next, always feeling like I should be working on something. I feel ready for something that will force me to slow down, for something to feel rewarding in a new way. I crossed a few more minor things off my list of things to do before having a baby, like some last girls nights out dancing ... a solo show ... sushi and oyster dates ... getting in shape just to prove to myself I could. I'll just have to trust that those other big life aspirations in the back of my mind are still possible out there in the future.

As someone who is inherently a planner, it's difficult to prepare yourself for something without knowing when it will happen... immediately, or in a year, or never. We were very lucky that I was able to get pregnant right away. I had spent so much time reminding Evan that it might take a while, that he actually expected it to and was caught off guard.

Now, I'm feeling overwhelmed by all there is to research and learn about all the stuff babies need (also known as building a registry) and how to prepare for birth and newborn care. While I know several people with children, their presence feels peripheral, and I don't have much direct experience with what's to come. It helps that I have complete trust that I picked the right partner, not just for spending my life with, but also for raising a child together. Amidst all the researching, I try to remind myself where this is headed and remind myself to visualize carrying around a little infant. When Evan comes to bed in the morning to hug me goodbye before work, I try to imagine him saying goodbye to two of us. This is the ultimate gamble we're taking...but we forged ahead anyway because it's one of life's ultimate adventures that we want to experience.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

This Year's Fire Escape Garden

Here's my fire escape right after I planted it in late April:

And here it is now that it's June and it's grown in:

In total, I've got two kinds of mint, lavender, sage, rosemary, marjoram, basil, parsley, cilantro, marigolds, petunias, euphorbia, zinnias, nasturtiums, orange cosmos, and wild, spindly purple flower that I bought for looks and forgot the name of.

The empty pots are seeded with lettuce and purslane, and morning glories and bachelor's buttons, just planted last weekend. A squirrel dug up all the zinnias, but all all was not lost because a few survived, a few were replaced, and they're already blooming again. We grow nasturtiums because they're edible and Evan really enjoys them on his salads. Now that the herbs have filled out, I can start thinking about different pestos.

And that is what you can fit on a fire escape. Don't worry, I usually keep an escape path clear, but had to rearrange a bit for photos.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup with Potato, Corn and Lentils

I don't often set out to make specific recipes, usually preferring to gather inspiration from a variety of recipes and make use of what I have. However, I was intrigued enough by this soup I came across on the Wednesday Chef to go out and buy the special ingredients needed. It's a simple potato soup that becomes a flavorful vegetarian tortilla soup by adding chipotle chiles in adobo, avocado, lime juice and crushed tortilla chips. It definitely lived up to the hype.

I'd never used chipotle chiles in adobo sauce before. Chipotle chiles are actually smoked jalapeƱos, and they are often marinated in adobo sauce, a blend of vinegar, garlic, tomato, paprika and other spices. They come in a little can, and since the recipe only calls for one or two chiles (we used one and a half), what to do with the rest? I chopped them up and divided them in an ice cube tray to freeze. Now I have several frozen cubes of chiles stored away that can easily be thrown into soups, stew, beans, etc. I'm already thinking of pulled beef with the smoky heat of adobo and chipotle served alongside parsnip mash or cornbread. Not to mention more of this soup. We are visiting Evan's parents right now in Florida, taking a break from the winter that never seems to end, so we will probably still be all about soups when we return.

A few changes I did make to the original recipe: I subbed in rutabaga for a third of the potatoes, since I ran out of potatoes and had extra rutabaga in my fridge. To keep it vegetarian, I used vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. I also added a cup of cooked lentils at the end, at the same time as the corn, to add protein to this otherwise carb-heavy dish. We found this soup to be so rich and tasty on its own, that we left off the shredded cheese, but you might decide otherwise. You can find the original recipe for Amelia Morris' corn, chile and potato soup over on The Wednesday Chef.