Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Mystery Solved

I made these biscuits from Ouiser's recipe on Saturday and they were delicious. She's totally right about the glaze, though: I accidentally made way too much and ended up wasting a ton of sugar. But they are otherwise perfect and the amount of orange flavor is right on. I didn't mess with her recipe at all and found it to be just right. Subtle, as she said, yes, but still very much there. I highly recommend them.

I've been working more the past two weeks (and will be right up until we leave for Sacramento next Wednesday) and have been exhausted! Twice in the last week I've fallen asleep at 8:00 and slept for 11 hours. As die Frau mentioned to me on the phone the other day, it was not uncommon for me to need that much sleep in college, but that was bookending other nights of getting four hours of sleep because I was on the phone with the husband (who was then merely the boyfriend) half the night, for example. So it made more sense. But I think I've finally figured out this mystery.

Those of you who have been pregnant know that once you get to about 20 weeks (I was 21 yesterday), you're not supposed to sleep on your back anymore. The weight of the baby/uterus/etc. is now enough to constrict the artery that returns the blood from your legs to your heart. So you have to sleep on your side, preferably the left. This requires multiple pillows between the knees, behind the back to support you. I've been doing this and notice that I have to switch sides every couple of hours because I wake up with hip pain in the hip my weight is on. Turning over means waking up completely because you have to rearrange all those pillows every time. So that's several sleep interruptions per night. That coupled with the work it takes to build a whole new person I think more than explains the 11-hour marathon sleep sessions.

It also explains the not blogging, not sewing, not unloading the clean dishes from the dishwasher and allowing the newly dirty ones to stack up, not folding the laundry (though I did at least wash it, which I maintain is the most important part).

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Cooking Spree

The husband really had no time for any Father's-to-Be Day activities Sunday, so I decided to try to cook some of his favorite things for him at home. This met with varied success.

  • Mom-in-Law's Pull-Apart Coffee Cake: Some of my 'Gater readers may have this recipe in the cookbook my SIL made for my bridal shower. I prepped this yesterday and we ate it this morning, and it was delicious, and the husband loved it. Nevertheless, there are a few tweaks that we decided need to be made to the recipe as written. (1) The recipe told me to bake it for an hour, but a half hour was plenty. (2) The recipe says to use an angel food cake pan, but after the husband described to me the pan it was made in by his mother when he was growing up, we determined that it is in fact meant for a Bundt pan. Doesn't sound like it should make much of a difference, but the recipe calls for layering three or four layers of dough with the sugar/butter mixture. With the angel food cake pan, I only got about one and a half layers because of the width of the bottom of the pan. Anyway, it was still delicious and if anyone wants the recipe, let me know.

  • Black Walnut Pie: The particular recipe I used was one that the husband found a while ago that he wanted me to make for him. He developed a mild obsession with the concept of a black walnut pie after we read a bunch of the Lilian Jackson Braun (The Cat Who...) books, in which the main character lives in a town where black walnut pies are the local specialty. This was my first time making a nut pie of any kind. It was easy, but I won't bother giving the recipe. Way too much maple syrup...

  • I also made a particular filet mignon dish that I've made several times before, about once a year, only on special occasions, but which we both have always loved. This time, it wasn't bad, but there was a definite problem with it that led us to call it filet mig-ham. It didn't look right when I cooked it. It didn't look right when I served it. It didn't smell right. And it tasted like ham. We checked the package twice and it definitely said beef filet mignon. Finally, on the third check of the package the husband noticed the tiny writing that noted the filet mignon was cured. Who knew anyone would cure filet mignon? What a waste. So it was too salty, and, as mentioned, tasted like ham. Oh well.

  • I made asparagus for the first time. Overcooked it. I knew that would be easy to do. I just have so little experience steaming fresh veggies.

  • Mashed potatoes were good and we have lots of leftovers.

  • The biggest success was the pepperoni rolls. This is a recipe my mom gave me years ago that came off a food package, I think. I tried them once before and wasn't so successful. This time they came out perfectly. Here's the recipe; I highly recommend them.

Pepperoni Rolls

  • 1 (1-pound) loaf frozen bread dough, thawed (don't substitute pizza dough; I made this mistake the first time)

  • 3 Tbsp pesto sauce

  • 2 cups Italian cheese blend (I used a 5-cheese blend, shredded. Have also seen 3- or 6-cheese blends)

  • 3-4 oz sliced pepperoni

Roll bread dough into 20- x 12-inch rectangle. Spread surface with pesto sauce. Sprinkle with cheese. Top with pepperoni. Roll up, starting at long side. Cut into 12 slices. Place slices, cut side up, in greased muffin cups, pressing slightly. Cover. Let rise in warm place 45 minutes. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Happy Post

As I promised, here are some of the happier highlights from my trip to Northern NY:

  • Of course, I got to spend lots of time with my parents.

  • My mom and I went shopping in Burlington, VT. She basically took me on a maternity clothes shopping spree! I think she was a little distressed that I was living basically in two pairs of shorts and endless tank tops. As it is questionable whether these tank tops will fit all the way to the end, I think she feared me being in my last month with nothing else to wear, rockin' the Spears white trash maternity duds. She loaded me up with some really nice stuff that seems like it will only look better as I "show" more.

  • My dad, a long-time on-again/off-again photographer, entered some of his work in a gallery showing for the first time ever! And...he sold a couple pieces! By chance, his second show, at a different gallery, was this past weekend, but I've yet to hear if that good luck carried over.

  • Scarlet Lily got engaged! I knew this was coming before I flew out there as her fiance needed some minor assistance from me in the planning. We had a great celebratory dinner at her family's lake house and I got to see several old, dear friends, some of whom I think I haven't seen since my own wedding four years ago. I would also like to point out that I was chastised by Scarlet for not looking pregnant enough. You just can't please everybody...

  • My parents and I went to a newish natural history museum in nearby Tupper Lake: The Wild Center. It focuses on the Adirondacks, from glacial formation of the mountain region to present day ecosystems. Most excitingly, it features Squeeker the Otter, who gives a very good show to entertain the people. Easily the most social and happy-looking animal in captivity I've seen in a long time. We followed this visit with an early Father's Day lunch.

    This is not my photo, obviously, but a postcard my mom bought the husband because he was not able to make Squeeker's acquaintance himself.

And, of course, those are just the highlights!

In other news, I've been trying frantically all weekend to whip this house back into shape after two weeks of neglect. Today is laundry and cleaning focused; although, I still have errands and the'll never get done, but that will have to be okay. After today, I think I work 13 of the next 15 days, then leave for Sacramento to visit the husband's mother and other fam. I know, tempting the airline gods again so soon...

Friday, June 15, 2007

June Sucks

I'm back. And I hope you weren't looking forward too much to a photo-filled, happy post describing my trip because this one is going to be nothing but whiny. Just allow me to get it out of my system. Then a more pleasant post about my actual time in NY with my parents will follow.

As previously posted, I had the plague for the four or five days before I had to fly cross-country. I tried to be relatively stoic about that as I was just grateful that I didn't end up having to go to the hospital, as my OB vaguely threatened. Luckily, I kept down some applesauce and popsicles to avert that horror. The day before I had to actually fly, I felt significantly better, which was a lucky thing because the husband was back from China for only one day before I was scheduled to take off on my own jaunt. So I was hopeful about flying without ill (literally) effects.

Wrong. It generally takes three flights to get from Tucson to Burlington, VT, if you're trying to be economical. This is typically awful, but you kind of just have to not think about it and plod through. However, the experience is exponentially worsened, it turns out, if you feel like you're one jostle away from losing your lunch the entire 12-hour journey. The first leg of my flight was in a tiny little plane from Tucson to Denver, where I was squashed next to an obese woman, on the scale of those who intermittently end up in the news because the airline makes them buy two seats or something. I have sympathy for that plight; I'm not judgning. But I am 5'10" and nearly 20 weeks pregnant, so I'm no waify little thing that can easily curl up in half her seat when the other half is requisitioned by my seatmate. She did apologize. I said something like, "That's okay." To which she said, "Well, it's not, but..." And she was right, it wasn't okay, because by the end of the turbulent flight, when we started our descent, I was sweating with the little fan on full blast and 100% of my being focused on not needing to use the air sickness bag.

I did make it with stomach contents in place. And my next flight was also turbulent, but more spacious. The problem was, I had so little time between flights that I would just barely complete the hike to my next gate before they were boarding my next leg. So I never got to recover. And was feeling queasy before the second and third flights even took off, never mind by the time they landed. It was hell. Or at least I thought that was hell...

Flash forward one week through lots of lovely outings with my parents, the freaking beautiful Northern NY weather and scenery, the friends I got to visit with, and, of course, Scarlet Lily's engagement (!!!), all of which I'll try to cover soon. I was feeling 100% healthy for my trip home (except for those damn pregnancy headaches I keep getting) and looking forward to getting to know my husband again after over two weeks apart (minus the one day between our trips). My parents drove me to the airport, we had a nice lunch (the Burlington, VT airport is tiny and has one restaurant in it, outside of security, and it's actually good...if you ever find yourself there), and they dropped me off at the gate.

My plane boarded a little late, but no big deal. We neared DC (the first of the three-leg flights), the pilot announced we'd be on the ground in 20 minutes, I wasn't nauseated (yet), and we were landing on time...except that an hour later we were still in the air. The pilot announced that there was a thunderstorm over DC and they wouldn't let us land. We didn't have the fuel to stay in the holding pattern we were in, so we were being diverted to Baltimore...with a bunch of other flights in the same predicament...where we stayed, on the tarmac, for over four hours...without bathroom access as the lavaratory literally filled up. We were the last flight there, so were last in line, so we got serviced last. They eventually refueled us and emptied the lavaratory (which promptly was filled again in about 30 minutes). But DC was completely shut down so we were still stuck. They tried to get Baltimore to let us into a gate, or even drive a bus out to get us off the plane, but, according to the pilot, they were not being very cooperative. So we sat. Finally DC was letting planes in again, and we landed there about six hours late.

In the meantime, my connection to Denver had, of course, been cancelled. I got on the phone with the airline who rebooked my flight pretty quickly, but couldn't get me out until the next morning as it was now 10 pm. They also told me I would need to get my bags out of baggage claim and recheck them when I checked back in for my morning flight. So I left security, went to baggage claim, waited for my bags for a couple hours as they were backed up with all the screwed up flights coming in. Finally, I got suspicious that my bags weren't coming and went to talk to the baggage claim people. They looked it up and found that my bags were being held for my morning flight, so there was no reason I had to exit the secured terminal and go to baggage claim after all (this will be important later). So I went to talk to someone about finding a hotel. The guy looked at me like I was crazy and said all the hotels had been full for at least four hours. I started to feel a little panicky. The husband was at home and got online and on the phone trying desperately to find me a hotel. The best he could come up with was an hour and a half from the airport. I was getting a little tearful at this point, but still trying to hold it together. I stood in line for an hour and a half, starting to feel shaky, so I could get my new boarding passes and get back through security.

This is where I lost it. Security was apparently closed until about 4 am. It was, I think, somewhere in the neighborhood of 1 am at this point. I was tired, and pregnant, and not feeling well (again), and scared (mostly because the ticket agent had just told me that if I couldn't get a hotel I'd better go back through security and wait in the terminal where it was safer). There were people curled up on the hard, linoleum floor everywhere trying to sleep. I was far from the only person in this predicament. I was sitting on the floor, on my cell phone with my husband, crying heartily now. A cop came up to see if I was okay and directed me to a coffee shop in baggage claim where at least there were tables and chairs.

I got down there and realized that I hadn't had much to drink in about 13 hours (though I had eaten--thank God we packed that food in my carryon, Mom). I stood in line, came very close to fainting, but finally made it with food and drinks to a table. That helped. Across from me were tables adjacent to a padded bench, packed with people sleeping. I'm so tall, I doubted I'd fit on there even if there had been a space, but I was envious nonetheless. After about an hour I got lucky and somebody left. I grabbed there space, pulled my carryon bag and laptop as close to me on the floor as I could, and scrunched myself up into the smallest, pregnant, nearly 6-foot ball I could. I slept for two hours in that way where you're just barely asleep and you wake up with a start every five minutes or so. So not real sleep, but rest at least. It was loud, bright, and freezing.

Finally, my hips were too sore to stary there any longer (it wasn't that padded) and I realized it was 4:30, so I headed up to security, where the line was already unbelievably long. At 4:30 am. But it was moving so I got through in maybe 20 minutes. Here's where the real heartbreak set in: remember how I only left the terminal to begin with because the stupid airlines agent told me I had to get my baggage, which turned out not to be true? All the people that hadn't been led astray thusly were sleeping in what, at the time, equated to luxurious beds, where they all were stretched out on there own benches with lots of space, it was warm, the airport had dimmed all the lights (!!), and given them blankets and pillows!! I could have spat on them all.

I eventually found breakfast. I read. I curled up on my own bench, sans pillow or blanket, but while the lights were still dimmed, and caught a little sleep. Bided my time until 9:00 when my plane finally boarded. I flew to LA without incident, sleeping most of the way. Then finally, finally, got back to Tucson around 5 pm. A day later than I should have. The husband has class Thursday nights and couldn't skip it, nor could he find anyone available to pick me up, so I paid $60 to take a cab all the way back to our house. Finally. Bed never felt so good.

Today I have to work, which is too bad because I'm still not feeling 100% again. But after missing so much due to illness and vacation, I need the money. So I'm heading in shortly for a half day. Then home to sleep some more, no doubt.

Okay, that's the end of my epic whining. Cheerier post next time, promise.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

On the mend

Starting to finally feel better. And a lucky thing, too, as I am scheduled to fly cross-country tomorrow to visit my hometown. I'll be there a week and may try to post while I'm there, but can't make any promises. So expect that my blog-break will last at least that long. But I promise to return and resume! Everyone needs a little summer vacay after all...

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Unscheduled Hiatus

I have the plague (or something similar). And the husband is out of the country. It has not been a good few days and will probably be several more before I return. Just thought I'd better announce that I am alive, and actually do seem to be slowly improving. But I need some more time and some more mending first...