Thursday, April 28, 2011

Viability day today!

First of all, congratulations to Angie who had her baby boy today.  He looks so cute!
So, it is viability day today, 24 weeks.  I cannot believe that I have made it this far.  It seems that I am going through this pregnancy week after week and nothing bad happens (knock on wood), it is so unreal that it is barely registering.  And I feel absolutely great since the nausea has disappeared, other than the insomnia, restless legs and occasional shortness of breath.  Oh, and the inability to eat as much as I would like.

So how did I spend the day?  I was planning on celebrating, but the festivities will be deferred until this weekend, as MrH was out of town and my bird Max was sick.  For the last two days, he did not eat much, only tasting the food cautiously with the side of his beak and the tip of his tongue.  His little beak was warmer than usual, and his breath smelled a bit different, sweeter that usual as well.  He was also very subdued, did not do much but sit around with his feathers all fluffed up, and all he wanted to do is cuddle.  In other words, he did not make a mess and did not destroy a single thing.  This, my friends, is definitely a cause to worry in a parrot.  So today I decided to give him some leftover amoxicillin that I borrowed in liquid form, and calculated the dose according to weight (I weigh him on the Salter Harris kitchen scale) at 0.06 ml (hahaha).  In other words, I put some on my finger and allowed him to lick it off, which he dutifully did.  I probably overdosed him even with that little bit, but fortunately amoxicillin gets pooped out quite quickly.

My personal suspicion is that he probably burned his tongue on a hot edamame bean two days ago, and is still recovering, but I would rather be safe than sorry, especially since we don't have any vets in town who deal with parrots.  He seemed much better tonight, and even ate some popcorn and messed up my salad, so Maxie is coming back.  The return of the destructive bird!  Love it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Congratulations to my friend!

My friend I. had her baby girl and I am so happy for her and wish them good health and a wonderful life together.  This is exciting, and I can't wait to go to Vancouver and meet little A. who by the sound of it must be very delicate and pretty.  I bet she has long thin fingers.  I love that in a little girl.  I can't wait!!!!

On the sad news front, my other friend I. (another I.) lost her little dog today.  He was really a cute dog, and used to love to sit on my tummy.  I know we are all going to miss him.  I don't even know how her husband is going to burry him because the ground is still frozen. Such a sad, sad thing to happen.

In another order of ideas, I think someone should stop me from baking.  I just made cremsnit pudding (i.e. the inside only) as I did not have the crazy mindset that I am going to make French pastry dough by hand today, and I am not buying tenderflake unless it is imperative.  The lady who posted the recipe obviously had the patience to wait for the cremsnit to cool off so that she can cut it into squares, I don't have such patience...

My little seedlings are coming along just great, will post a picture tonight.  I am also amazed by how organized and clean the whole house is, there is no corner that I have not turned, and my cleaning lady has helped immensely, as most heavy physical work things like vacuuming and washing carpets or windows is not possible for me.  She is definitely worth it for us, and not too expensive.  When I am at home and can tell her what I actually want, her value doubles, because I get so much satisfaction out of seeing the things done.  (when we both work, she just tidies up and does the bathrooms and kitchen flooring, as she has no time for anything else).  I have even organized my kitchen drawers, and figured out a good way to store purses off the floor of my wardrobe.  I need to sew some purse covers for the ones that are not covered yet.  The storage compartment is a vertical shelving unit made from polyester that I got at wall.mart.

All in all, the house looks scary clean!  I think I need to relax about it a bit before my husband sends me packing ;)

I think when I am at home we tend to be easier on the environment.  This lead me to think that we all work so hard, and that might be contributing as to why we are such bad consumers and don't spend time caring about the environment.  For example, I make much less trash, as most things are either recyclable or compostable.  I also had time to investigate where to donate unwanted items, or sell some, instead of taking them to the garbage dump.  When I work long days, I am often too exhausted to care.  I also tend to use more packaged goods, for example I tend to buy yogourt instead of making my own (thus generating a plastic receptacle) and instead of buying the beans in bulk and boiling them at home, I buy them in cans, and thus again generate more recycling.  Our food bill is also only 75% of what it was before, despite the Easter Holidays and all the lamb and baking.   Partly because I waste just about nothing, knowing exactly what is in the fridge, and partly because I had time to look at where to get some good deals on flour, eggs, and milk.  (We spend a lot on food in general because we almost exclusively buy organic, except for the flour and the asparagus, both of which I cannot find organic anywhere).

Anyway, that is it for today's ramblings.  Will post again tomorrow.

And this is the inside of the cremsnit

Someone please stop me!


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Could this be why I am gaining weight?

Like the French

I have gained a grand total of 2 lb over this Easter Holiday.  Obviously too much cozonac (the Romanian Easter cake) and lamb.  Ughhh.  I am hoping that this weight will not stay around, and that it is rather composed of salt and water.  Yeah, keep dreaming.

Whenever I feel that my weight balance is off kilter and that I am starting to treat food with a different attitude than my usual, I re-read (or discover new) books on interesting historical women that inspire me.  They are universally thin and beautiful.  If they are not beautiful, they are so well put together that nobody notices.  If they are ugly, then they know how to make themselves Jolie-Laide, the French term for "an interesting, unconventional type of beautiful, that could almost be ugly but it is not because of reasons difficult to explain consciously".

Romanians raised in city where I was born have been heavily exposed to French language and culture in my day, starting from the beginning of the 20th century, when the wealthy used to send their children to study in Paris, at the Sorbonne.  Pretty much everybody had to study French in school, and because I really enjoyed the culture and the air of myth surrounding the French women, I took it several steps further and took night school at the French Cultural Centre, an old bourgeois building restored and used by the French Embassy as both a library and a liaison area, including a place to take classes and do international language proficiency exams in French.  In a time when all we had was the dull grey communist notebooks and manuals, the French library brimmed with white shelves, colourful books, and the smell of shiny pages, not to mention CD players, the height of luxury back then (I mean about 17 years ago).

I have learned a lot about French history and culture, and find it relaxing to read books on some of the fabulous courtesans of the time.  The one that I am currently interested in is Diane de Poitiers.  She managed to look good well into old age, and adhered to a rigurous physical regimen for those days.  She would wake up at 6 am, and swim in the cold river to freshen her complexion.  This is in a time when people only bathed at christening, after giving birth, and when prepared for the funeral, for fear that they would catch the pox.  A popular hygiene book at the time advised women to wash once a month for their and their lovers' comfort.  Scary.  Anyway, Diane smelled clean, she was busy exercising and horseback riding for about two hours per day, and was mostly vegetarian, eating even at the king's court from her own garden's produce.  She was the lover of Henry II, who was 20 years her junior.  He loved her until he died (this poor woman burried both her husband and her lover in her lifetime) and gave her two castles, one of which I have visited when I was last in France, Chenonceau.  Queen Catherine de Medici, Henry's wife, used to be so threatened by this mistress that she drilled holes in the ceiling of the king's chambers to spy on them and learn something that would make her more alluring to the king.  On the other hand, Diane was repeatedly encouraging Henry to make love to his wife, in order to produce heirs for France.  She was quite secure in her role as mistress and in her seductress powers.

I must say, I sometimes fantasize of spending time in reality with such a lady, and learning her secrets.  They obviously have to do with discipline and adherence to a beauty regimen that includes diet and exercise, but they have subtleties that I might never grasp in my lifetime, things that have to do with being secure in one's skin to the point that one knows life will be ok, no matter what.

It is not that she did not suffer.  She was very much human and upset by the maliciousness of the royal court ladies that hated her for her beauty and charm.  Will write more in the next installment if anybody cares to read (let me know in the comments section).

Oh, yeah, two more days to viability.  Emma is doing great, kicking lots, will certainly be an athletic child.  I plan on putting her in dancing if she is interested.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

Hristos a Inviat!  (for my Romanian friends) and Happy Easter to everyone else.
I must confess that I ate too much today.  With all this good food around, it is hard to stop on time.  I mean that trifle that my friend made for lunch... who can say no to good trifle, even when one is already full?  But the difference is that when one is pregnant, the food stays in the stomach for the next week.  For me, the transit of food is definitely slowed down, as I can still regurgitate lunch bits about ten hours later.  I should invest in Gaviscon stock, given that I am their main client at the moment.  I feel heavy like a long, and very full, and not well at all, not to mention that for some reason my face swells up a bit when I eat too much as well (I think I retain fluid because of all the salt).  All the more reason to remember that a. I have gestational diabetes, and b.  I am pregnant and hence should not eat with abandon because I will pay for it not just for a few hours, like normal people do, but for about two days.  I must stamp "restraint" on my forehead for the remainder of the holidays.

Friday, April 22, 2011

And I installed this new chandelier in the bedroom. Love it.

In case anybody wants to know what is it with me and the lights, the lighting shop in town had a moving sale for 50% off, so I spoiled myself a little.

This is the bakers rack for storing Emma's clothes

It is kind of empty for now...

Will this ever come off?

food colouring.


This post is dedicated to household gadgets.  I am thinking about buying two things: one is an ice cream attachment for the Kitchen Aid mixer, the other one is a steam cleaner for the floor, to remove the bird poop that gets stuck on when dry.  I generally try to keep gadgets down to a minimum, but my minimum includes a lot of gadgets.  The top gadgets in my life include:
1.  the Kirby vacuum cleaner.  With the mess that the birds make, that vacuum cleaner works twice a day, and it creates a black hole vortex that sucks everything in.  I also used it to wash the carpets and the end result made me tolerate and even like the carpets for a while longer, as opposed to installing hardwood right away.
2.  the Kitchen Aid mixer.  I use it for baking extensively and love it.  It is involved in anything that I cook that requires mixing.  Lately I use it for mixing romaine salad leaves with the oil and vinegar, it crushes them just enough to get the salad dressing on each leaf, and it makes the salad taste soooo good.
3.  the electrical toothbrush, a very old gadget of mine, which I bought when they first came on the market. I never looked back.
4.  the Waterpik.  If you don't know what that is, it is a device that cleans your gums and the spaces in between the teeth with a strong water jet.  I love it.  I am crazy about dental hygiene, to the point of flossing every day before bedtime, and then flossing again if I need to have a night time snack (which sometimes happens when I am pregnant, 'cause I am hungry all the time and crave eggs and cheese and milk non stop).  I used to floss twice to three times a day before the waterpik.
5.  now I am quite happy with the sewing machine as well.  I hope to keep on using it.
6.  the juicers:  I have one for leaves and one for solid fruit and veggies.  It might look like overkill, but we do use both of them.
7.  the blender.  I use it daily for composting (if I don't blend the composting material it stays solid until the end of time), and of course for making food purees.
8.  my iron.  I have a steam iron and love to use it on anything.  It never burns, not even silk, even though I always use it on maximum heat.  I have an ironing board up all the time in the bedroom, and now when it was time to install the change table, I nearly panicked when we talked about taking down my ironing board.   Never!  I iron every day and the two seconds that it would take me to take the ironing board from its hiding place and mount it will easily add up to hours in one year.  Plus I have read of a person who got a concussion when the ironing board sprung open from behind the door and hit her over the head.  Who wants to risk that ? (just kidding, although the story seems true).
9.  Or I should say 9 through 15: my various hair devices.  I own a hair dryer, a hair curler in 3 inch diameter, a hair curler in 1.5 inch diameter, one hot rod without a clamp in 1 inch diameter, a straightener, a shallow crimper, a deep wave crimper, and a set of hot curlers.  Oh, and a hot air brush.  And yes, I use them all.
10.  the dehydrator.  A fabulous device that keeps things warm at a constant temperature.  It is meant to dehydrate edible food bits, but I use it for making yogourt (which I make at least weekly) and raising dough.  It works so well I could cry.
11.  my espresso maker.  Lovely machine.  It became part of my daily morning ritual years ago.  It even steams milk.  Yum.  (It might even be the reason for my insomnia?).  Although I limit the caffeine to one cup per day, and often drink decaf.  I prefer to grind the beans right before making the coffee, it does make a big difference in flavour.  With a grinder handy, one does not need fancy coffee, anything fair trade will do for me.

The devices that I do have and am not sure about whether I should have gotten or not are:
1. the microwave.  Although we use it,  I never really know how safe it is for the food and for the baby.  I am still thinking and researching the topic.
2.  the food processor.  I rarely ever use it, preferring a good set of knives and chopping everything by hand.
3.  the clarisonic.  It is a brush for washing the face, much like an electrical toothbrush, but it is softer and has a larger head.  It cleans well but it also tends to irritate my face a bit.  And I cannot tell yet if it makes any difference over regular washing with my fingers.
4.  the clothes dryer.  It is so dry in my town that things tend to get from sopping wet to dry in a matter of hours.  We usually tend to hang our stuff all over the living room and it gets dry in a few hours, plus it humidifies the air.  By contrast, the washing machine is a lovely tool that I use all the time, once a day perhaps, for everything including my silks and cashmere sweaters, and it never destroyed a thing.  It likes to occasionally eat a sock or two, when hungry, but otherwise it is a content little monster.
5. the handheld vacuum cleaner.  After the Kirby, simply nothing feels strong enough to please me anymore.  Although the Kirby is so bulky and heavy that the handheld vacuum should be a nice gadget in my life for the stairs and such, but I just don't feel that it does anything compared to the black hole suction of my monster vacuum cleaner.
6.  the toaster.  We never toast bread.  If anyone needs a toaster you can have mine.
7.  ditto for the indoors grill.  We hardly ever eat meat and when we do it is cooked in a casserole not grilled in a large chunk.
8.  also, I have a handheld clothes steamer for anyone who feels that they need one in their life.  My love affair with ironing gets in the way of any other loving feelings towards the steamer.

PS.  While I was typing this post, my parrot Max got into the food colouring bottles that I had on the counter top for colouring the Easter Eggs.  I am going to post a picture of my fingers and of his tongue.  He has a blue tongue that would be worth photographing if he'll let me.

23 weeks

The ultrasound done yesterday showed a cervical length of 3.45 cm which is very good.  It seems that the cerclage is holding everything well in place.  I am so impressed by how well this cerclage has worked for me, and feel so blessed that I did it.

I also started to build a baby's room.  I know I said I wouldn't, but I am nesting big time and was not expecting to actually do so much.  I thought I would just have the baby's clothes in a basket, change the baby on the bed, and sleep with the baby in my bed, and not change anything really.  Well...for some reason, I am feeling this unending urge to have a baby room, and have realized that one basket will not hold all the baby paraphenalia, so I got an old baker's rack on which I put baskets, and that will be my storage space.  I have also ordered a changing table on, it was very cheap, and has some drawers.  I will take pictures when it arrives.

I have had very few worries during these past two weeks, as illustrated by my nice dreams instead of the usual nightmares.  I used to have lots of nightmares, but they have calmed down a lot.  I often dreamed things to do with losing the pregnancy.  Two nights ago, before this last ultrasound, I have dreamt that I started bleeding.  I did not know why, but was suspecting that I must be dilating. I called my obstetrician and he was also worried (in the dream).  It was all very vivid and very much like it would have been in real life.  At one point, towards morning, I remember thinking "wouldn't it be nice if this whole thing was just a dream and I woke up all normal, still pregnant and no worries?" and then I did wake up all normal and no worries.  I remember after losing Adrian having this same feeling lots of times, that maybe it was just a bad dream, but it was not, and it went on and on.  Well, just for the record, when it is just a bad dream, it is so so so nice to wake up and realize it.

One more week and we reach VIABILITY!!!!  I need to have a viability party.  I think we'll have lamb and red beet salad with horseradish.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

All Chaneled out.

So the pictures underneath are of my Chanel jacket that I have bought on ebay during my last ebay extravaganza.  It was not too bad price wise, I got it very much reduced compared to its original price.  And it FITS!!!! I am ecstatic.  It fits like a second skin.  So soft and pliable...a dream.  I have always wanted to have an original Chanel jacket, and unfortunately all of my prior attempts on ebay resulted in purchasing jackets that were too small.  It is hard to gauge the size because the sizing is for the French, in European numbers, and much smaller than what we are used to here.  I think I hit jackpot with the sizing now though.  It might be my only dry clean item that I own.  I never dry clean, just put stuff in the wash, and I don't tend to own a lot of ball gowns, but with this jacket I might use the dry cleaners in town.  They are probably prohibitively expensive.

I have been baking those Easter cakes for people, and eating some, and did not check my sugar for a while.  Last night one hour after having mango and a polenta (corn flour porrige) with lentil soup and asparagus, my sugar was 9.4.  High.  I also had a banana and a piece of chocolate during the day, and I know that it made a difference.  I need to start behaving again.  I am going to start testing after every meal to see what happens with different foods.  This morning I had a glass of celery - carrot juice that I made, and a slice of cozonac with two scambled eggs.  The sugar is...4.3.  Unbelievable.  I don't understand one bit.  It should be higher.  Perhaps morning is best for eating carbs, although they say it isn't.  Or perhaps one slice of carbs a day will not make much difference.  I still have a long way to go towards understanding how my body reacts to the sugar.

And it zips well over my belly...for how long I don't know

Guess what just arrived in the mail?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

This is the rubbermaid container cover sewn on the night I could not sleep

Testing a recipe for cozonac...traditional Romanian Easter bread

Wheatgrass for the my lecreuset ceramic oven dish

And this is the crooked zipper!

This is the pillowcase

New light fixture in my beloved kitchen.

There was an ugly neon box before. This is so much prettier.

22.5 weeks

Doing very well, no further ultrasounds until Thursday, but so far baby Emma is moving a lot and the uterus is behaving.  I am suffering from insomnia.  Two nights ago I have not slept one wink.  I was up at 3 am reorganizing the kitchen drawers, and I must say they do look nice, but I thought I would go crazy from tiredness the next day.  Despite being bone tired, I still could not sleep until the next night, when I had a broken fitful sleep.  It must be a progesterone effect. although it usually makes me sleepy.  Hard to tell.  Weight gain so far 14 lb, and the only consistent craving I have had for the past 2 weeks has been for chicken livers.  Which I finally got today and cooked in the pan with garlic.  Yum.  I also made a bread to go with them, but I forgot to put yeast in it (hahaha) so I got a flat brick instead.

For those who like to hear what other stuff I cook (I am sure there are not many of you out there, but it does not hurt to try :), I also made a casserole from beef tongue in the Dutch oven, with tomatoes, mushrooms and rice.  The beef tongue was so huge, I have never cooked tongue before, but a friend of mine gave it to me and I decided that it was not going to go to waste, hence tongue for everybody for one week.  With the next tongue instalment (she has four more I think) I am making a reduced sauce from tomatoes and olives, and a lot of onions.

I have finally got my sewing machine that I ordered on ebay a century ago.  It is a simple heavy duty Janome.  I have never used a sewing machine before, nor did I know the first thing about them.  It took me four hours to learn how to thread it and put the bobbin in, after which it still did not sew.  When MrH got home one night, he also spent two hours trying to figure out that I had threaded it wrongly, and put the bobbin in wrongly as well.  One day later and only one minor injury later (i.e. the needle confused my index finger with the cloth), the machine is sewing.  I have sewn four sets of curtains (two sheer and two coloured) for each room, and a cover for an old rubbermaid container in the bedroom, used as a flower pot support.  Also, in a heroic attempt, I have managed to sew a decorative pillow cover with a zipper!!!!! shocking.  The zipper is a hard one for a beginner.  However, nowadays youtube will teach you everything from how to pluck a chicken to how to sew a zipper, so thanks to youtube the zipper is in, crooked, but that is ok.  I will post the pictures shortly.

I cannot believe that I am so close to viability.  On Thursday I will be 23 weeks and then countdown to viability begins.  How very special!  I always thought that only other women can carry a pregnancy to 24 weeks, but hey, this cerclage was the best thing that has ever happened to me.  I love it.  I feel so much safer with it.

Lastly, because I have time, I have decided to germinate flowers from seeds this year.  I have one tray of marigolds, one of nasturtiums, and ten pots with herbs of all sorts.  (Again pictures coming).  The only things I have germinated so far with good success are wheatgrass for the cat and sprouts for our salad.  It will be a different experience this time.  The ground is still very frozen, and it has just snowed again, so I think it is safe to say no outdoors planting will happen for about 1-2 months at least, which gives me the perfect window to get the little plants going.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

21 weeks

I had another ultrasound today and the cervix was 4.3 cm.  That is the good news.  The bad news is that I am developing gestational diabetes.  I checked my blood glucose a couple of times after meals and it is 7.7 to 7.9 mmol (don't know what that is in mg/L, sorry US people) but the upper limit for diagnosing diabetes is 7.7 one hour post prandial, or 6.6 two hours post prandial, or 5.2 fasting.  So I am screwed.  And I did not even have a lot of carbs this evening: we had beans with swiss chard, two tablespoons of steamed squash with garlic, and the juice of one orange with carrot and celery.  It could have been the juice, tomorrow I am only going to juice celery, cucumber, and a very small amount of carrot.  Bleah.  I can only hope that I won't need insulin.  I knew that it was going to happen, since I have a strong family history of gestational diabetes and gargantuan babies being born from both sides of the family. At least that won't be a problem, since I am having a C section, but I don't want to put Emma at risk, so that's it for carbs for me.

Pregnancy fashion

I feel like doing an "outfit of the day" every day or so to inspire me to wear all the clothes in my closet.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Mommy gave me a goodbye pedicure.

I hope one day I can have a table just like this one.
This is a picture I took in Gastown Vancovuer

haute couture and luxury

I have been obsessively absorbed by reading about haute couture and the world of luxury goods.  I found this great book called Deluxe: how luxury lost its luster and found it a most entertaining read.  Then I read a lot of posts on the Purse Forum (a site online where people write about purses and accessories in general) and read about half a dozen fashion books about the house of Chanel, Dior, and vintage purses and shoes.  I don't have any clue why I am doing it, just that I seem to pick a topic and then I dissect it to the bone until I am satisfied that I understand how it works.  At the moment I am trying to figure out for myself whether couture and luxury brands are an actual investment for people or whether they are an artificially inflated list of trinkets, albeit well made trinkets.

I have really enjoyed the sartorialist's book (by the way, I read all these books at Chapters on a hard chair, as I have decided a while ago not to buy anymore physical books lest they spill out of my house onto the street), and loved the variety in the fashion photographs.  Then I read Ines de la Fressange's book that just came out three days ago, for which I was waiting with trepidation.  I was disappointed.  She gives advice like it is the latest law.  "Don't wear leather suits"-- why not? My mother looks and feels fabulous in tailored leather suits.  Also, absolutely no mention of scarves.  Nada.  I am lately trying to incorporate my scarf into as many outfits as I can think of, as a game, and love to get some ideas, (although scarf as tank top when pregnant does not work very well).

Lastly, as a little treat, I allowed myself a brief 30 min outing to Holt Renfrew since I am still in Vancouver, to do some field research.  I have tried on (hahaha) a few Chanel jackets, the boucle style with weighted hems.  To the shop assistant's merit, they actually did not bat an eyelash when I asked to try on the jackets, perhaps they did not see that I was pregnant.  I loved the tailoring, and would absolutely love to have one someday (ebay is my only chance for that, as in real life they cost 5000 $ or so), and I am certain that Madame de la Fressange would not approve saying that it is too stuffy.  But paired with jeans and some fabulous shoes, a Chanel jacket would be a long lasting treasure.  Mmmm....someday.   I also found a Celine top that was knitted in garter stitch from chunky cotton, and that I swear I could make in one week.  It cost 1000 dollars.  As soon as I finish the alpaca baby blanket that I am working on, I will try my hand at the Celine top.  I just need a pattern somewhere.  Knitting when lying in bed for so long is a lifesaver.

Now, back to pregnancy stuff.  The MFM called to let me know that I would be eligible for amniocentesis, because of the IVF/ICSI associated 0.5% chance of chromosomal trisomy/aneuploidy.  I nearly laughed on the phone.  Like yeah, I will endanger this pregnancy for that particular chance, when my chances of other kinds of disasters are much higher.  Especially after my Nuchal screen and all labs were normal, including the anatomy ultrasound.  I am more worried about premature rupture of membranes or preterm labour or failure of the cerclage, you know, mundane stuff, not fancy rare stuff.  Although if we recall the rule of probabilities in my case, the more rare something bad is, the more likely it is to happen to me.  The more common something good is, the less likely.  Hm.  I just made it up, but hey, maybe the future will contradict this silly axiom.

I am now more pregnant than I have ever been, having past the point where I have lost Adrian.  Emma is moving a lot.  She is making herself very comfortable just under my bellybutton right now.  I can't wait to teach her everything I know about shoes and fashion.  I hope not to spoil her too much :)