Thursday, October 27, 2011

October Daring Baker's Challenge Revealed: Povitica

This month's Daring Baker's challenge wasn't quite what I expected, but wasn't a total disaster either. We were challenged to bake povitica, which is a swirled bread that hails from Poland (with variations from other countries). The traditional povitica is filled with a spread comprised mainly of ground up walnuts. I didn't have any walnuts, so I decided to attempt a cinnamon roll-inspired povitica. The flavor was amazing!! The swirling didn't quite work out like I'd hoped because the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture I used to fill the bread melted during the baking process... something I should have thought about. The swirling didn't completely fail, the bread just didn't have the structure I was aiming for. Oh well! Not the prettiest thing I've ever baked, but it sure was yummy!

In other months, I would have re-done this challenge with a different challenge, but simply didn't have time due to my many other baking projects. I don't know how it happened, but October became baking central in our house. Stay tuned for pictures of the treats and goodies that I've been working on.

The Daring Baker’s October 2011 challenge was Povitica, hosted by Jenni of The Gingered Whisk. Povitica is a traditional Eastern European Dessert Bread that is as lovely to look at as it is to eat!

An inside view of my povitica

Monday, October 24, 2011

Marble Painting

I heard about an art project awhile ago that I kept meaning to do with the kids. Basically, you put paper in a baking sheet, dribble in some paint, plop in a few marbles, and let the kids swirl the pans around to make neat designs. This project remained on my "to try" list because we didn't have marbles; last week, I was at a toy shop and amazingly remembered to get a bag of marbles.

I stripped down the kids and loaded up their pans with the art supplies. The kids had a blast. Of course, as soon as the marbles went flying, the hands went into the paint and it transformed from a marble painting project to a finger painting project. (I thought ahead to strip down the kids, but didn't think far enough ahead to lay newspaper on the floor... whoops)

Marbles? What marbles? We've got hands!

Look, Ma!

Annika diving in!

Conor discovered there's a cause and effect when one claps with paint on one's hands

Clap = paint on face! Triple the fun of flinging marbles around in a pan!

Why stop with painting the paper? Tummies are a great canvas!

Pretty hands!

Annika's tribal tummy art

Annika tagged Conor as hers

Pretty girl

Two of the marble art master pieces
After the art session, the kids went straight into the bath. Let's just say, that was some sludge-like bath water once the kids were done with it. In fact, I had to empty and re-fill the bath after the initial scrubbing because of all of the paint globs floating around in the water. Next stop: cleaning the kitchen floor!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Touching the Sun

As we drove home last night, I told Annika that she could wear a short-sleeve shirt to school the next day (today) because it was going to be a fairly warm day. That news made her day; I think she'd wear t-shirts and shorts 365 days per year if I let her! (Then again, so would Eric ... which leads me to believe it is a genetic thing that she definitely didn't get from me!) But I digress...

As we drove home, she asked why it was going to be warm the next day. I told her it was because the sun wouldn't be hidden by as many clouds. She liked that idea and then felt compelled to tell me that the sun is hot. After I agreed, she pointed out that she could wear her gloves to touch the sun, however. When I pointed out that the sun is VERY hot, she reminded me about the gloves. DUH! Me, being a stickler for details, pointed out that while the gloves are a good idea, the sun is WAAAAAAAY up in the sky. Always one step ahead of me, Annika quickly pointed out that she'll just get some very tall stairs.

This is what our world needs - more people who come up with simple solutions to problems! :)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Our 2011 Pumpkin Patch Adventure

There's a pumpkin patch/petting farm that is about 20-ish minutes from our house. We've been there numerous times over the years, even before we had kids.... possibly before we were even married (way back in ancient times!). This morning, we packed up the kids and went on an adventure.

One of the perks of this pumpkin farm is the animals. The kids can feed the birds and pet baby farm animals; one of the highlights from today's visit was petting the calf who was born on 10/1/11; she was very sweet, had a wonderful nose (I love cow noses!!!), and huge gentle eyes. The kids petted baby chicks, baby ducks, goats, and the cow. They also saw ducks, chickens, roosters, turkeys, geese, peacocks, and pigs!

After wandering through the animal portion of the farm, we chose a cart and headed to the pumpkin patch. We had lots of pumpkins to choose from (it gets to be slim pickings the closer it gets to Halloween ... we've learned that the hard way in years past). After scouring the patch for THE perfect pumpkins, we chose two to bring home, paid for them, and headed home... tired, but glad for a fun outing as a family.

Annika getting to know a goat

 Annika and Conor giving loves to a goat


Who knew we'd have to tell Conor not to lick fences at a farm??

The world's most adorable scarecrow

Our cute little pumpkin

Conor considering which pumpkin to take home

Annika showing the pumpkin who's boss

Annika convincing Eric this is HER pumpkin

Eric and the kids pumpkin hunting

Conor communing with the pumpkin

 Hauling our pumpkins away from the patch

Thursday, October 13, 2011

My owie

It's no secret that I have less-than-desirable knees. Beyond being in a family that seems to breed bad knees, 10 years ago, I completely blew out the ACL in my left knee. I had surgery to get it all fixed up and did lots of rehab to get back to almost 100%. I had some nerve damage due to the surgery and never fully regained the strength in that leg. No biggie. This spring, I started noticing how loud my knee was getting, especially on stairs. It started out as a "gravel in the knee" noise when I went down the stairs. It evolved into a "gravel in the knee" sound both directions on the stairs and end-of-the-day throbbing in my knee. Eventually, I had enough and got it looked at by the great people at UW's Sports Medicine clinic. They took x-rays and ordered an MRI. It was decided that I had a cartilage flap and a bunch of scar tissue from my previous surgery and both needed to get cleaned up. Arthroscopic surgery was scheduled for early October.

The day of surgery, Eric and I went to the hospital and I donned the ever-fetching "here's my bum for the whole world to see" hospital gown, no-slip socks, and fancy-schmancy hair net hat thingy. We chatted with a variety of health care professionals (nurses, doctors, MAs, etc.) and confirmed and reconfirmed what was going to take place that day.

I was nervous about being put under general anesthesia because I don't have a good track record with it ... AT ALL. Before surgery, the anesthesiologist and the anesthesiology nurse said they would give me their holy grail of anesthetics, which left me with only a 20% chance of becoming ill after surgery. I put my trust in their capable hands and it paid off. I wasn't sick once ... this is the first time ever that I haven't puked my guts out after being put under. Those people are my heros!! The trick was the combination of drugs and the fact all drugs were given via the IV, no gases were used.  My IV was in place and before I knew it, I was feeling loopy from the meds in my IV, was wheeled into a very cold OR, and was out within about a minute. I woke up however long later in a recovery bay with a nurse and Eric next to me. 

I discovered that the surgeon found more damage in my knee than the MRI revealed; in addition to the scar tissue and cartilage flap, I also had pieces of cartilage (aka loose bodies) floating around and had torn my meniscus. A bit more repair was needed, but nothing over the top. Amazingly, I didn't even needs crutches after surgery. Lots of ice, but no crutches!
The recovery has been fairly easy for the most part. That's a huge perk to this kind of surgery - it is minimally invasive: only 3 little incisions... 5 stitches total! I've been uncomfortable, swollen, and sore, but it hasn't been anything like my ACL surgery recovery, which was really hard. I got my stitches out on Monday, which was wonderful - they were starting to itch! Next steps: PT and a one-month follow-up with my surgeon.

Thank you to everyone who has pitched in during this time.... especially my wonderfully compassionate husband. My love, you are a rock star through and through!! Thank you, too, to the amazing care givers at UWMC and our friends who provided some frozen meals. Two weeks after surgery, I still have a limp and am sore and do a lot of icing, but feel pretty darned good .... that is, until a well-intentioned child or dog or husband runs into, hugs, grabs, or head-butts my knee. ;)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Annika Sings

I adore listening to Annika sing songs. Sometimes I hide around a corner when I hear her singing, just so she won't stop after realizing she has an audience. Other times, she'll break into song just to make Conor feel better... Eric and I use that method frequently; she is the best soothing balm for him at times! I know she won't keep her little girl voice forever, so I do my best to capture moments on video to preserve for the future.... moments like this one:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Oh the things she says

As Annika was pulling a rather heavy wooden chair across our living room, I asked her what she was doing. She said, "Oh. I just need to rest my body for a little while."

Other gems of late:
  • "When I'm a giant I won't fit in our house. We'll need a bigger one."
  • "Oh THERE you are little sweetheart!" (talking to Conor)
  • "I don't like my breakfast." I asked her if I could give it to Conor; she said, "No! It's mine!" and proceeded to eat the entire plate of food. (I think our kids are part Labrador!)
  • "Mommy, I'm sorry your knee is hurty. Can I kiss is to make it feel better?"

Friday, October 7, 2011

Conor's Popsicle

Last night, the kids got popsicles for a treat after dinner. Watching Conor eat a popsicle is often a source of entertainment for me. He typically wears the majority of the treat ... hence, I thought ahead and actually pulled him out of his shirt before giving him the deep purple popsicle. (Every so often, I do have a moment of genius!)

Conor definitely does better with popsicles that have been de-sticked and are in a bowl. He isn't quite speedy enough to eat them off of the stick before they melt down his arm .... his body ... and onto his feet. Keeping that in mind, he's still mastering the use of utensils, which can be a source of great entertainment as well!

Food doesn't necessarily go directly from the plate/bowl to the utensil. Conor frequently uses his other hand to load the food onto the utensil. (See exhibit A below)

After loading up said utensil, he often uses his second hand for a little added stability... 

Repeat as necessary. 

Conor is keeping an eye on his big sister, who has mastered the ability to eat a popsicle off of its stick without winding up with sticky toes.

Not all bites get from Point A (the bowl) to Point B (his mouth) without a little detour to the table... 

Our cute little boy modeling his popsicle goatee! 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Weird Stuff I've Witnessed on the Bus

About a year ago, I started commuting to work on the bus. Working downtown is great; driving downtown and paying to park downtown, however, are not. Over the past year, I've encountered a few... how shall I say ... interesting people and I've decided to share details about a few that have really stuck with me.

Drum roll, please!

  • The middle-aged guy who boarded the bus on Greenwood Ave wearing a legalize pot shirt who, upon sitting down, proclaimed to everyone on the bus "I AM SO HIGH!" and then proceeded to tell everyone about how he uses medical marijuana. Yeah, dude, we quickly realized you were high. You wouldn't shut up, asked ridiculous questions, and stank to high Heaven.
  • The lady (while standing on the sidewalk ... again on Greenwood Ave) who asked the driver of the bus I was on what time another bus (different route) would be there. When the driver said he didn't know, she yelled, "I know you won't tell me because I'm (insert race here). " No, lady. He just didn't have the timetable for other bus routes memorized. Sorry...
  • The guy (who oozed the stench of alcohol) who sat next to me yesterday and told me all about how he was hit by a car and broke his ankle. He then produced pictures of his broken ankle and the hardware that is now inside it. I heard all about how his lawyer said it would be work $250k, how he was married to a gal for 24 years but they're now divorced so he's moving back to Montana after his lawsuit is done, how he was shot in the knee in Viet Nam (hopefully during the conflict in the 60s-70s and not more recently), and that his daughter gets confused by calling the north area of seattle "North Seattle."
  • The person who left an eaten chicken leg next to a seat .... I didn't actually see this person, but did see the chicken bone.
  • The teen who fell asleep on the bus and his friends couldn't get him to wake up at their stop, so they just left him. I keep envisioning him waking up somewhere along the bus route not haveing a clue where he is. The "WTF! Where am I???" look on his face must have been priceless!
  • The UW grad student who practically assaulted me with attention when she saw me knitting. She was overly excited about having a fellow knitter on the bus (mind you, there are always a few of us on each bus during rush hour... on every stinking bus) and proceeded to tell me all about how much she loves to knit, what she's working on, what she's studying in school, and how to contact her so we could be BFFs. (OK, she didn't really say we'd be BFFs, but it was implied). In all honesty, I'm shocked she didn't crawl into my lap and start braiding my hair during the commute!

There are plenty of other interesting folks I've encountered, but these are the few that really stand out .... until I ride the bus home tonight and unearth another busload of nice, normal people ... and a few whacky ones!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Annika Sings

Annika brought this gem home from school recently. Really... how could a child get ANY cuter than this?