Tuesday, July 21, 2015

How Vegetarians Do Salad

Vegetarians get a bad rap because some meat-eaters think all they eat is salad. And salad gets a bad rap because unimaginative people think a salad is just lettuce with heaps of ranch dressing on it.

False on both accounts.

Some years ago, when I first started cooking real meals, a woman I was friends with would make the best salads with every ingredient imaginable. I had no idea salads could be so full of colorful, tasty ingredients. She also liked to serve pasta on a bed of greens, which isn't so much a salad at that point, but I thought it was an easy way to add some leafy greens to a meal and create an interesting mix of flavors and textures at the same time. 

Today, even though I don't eat salad very often, it is nice for summertime, and it's a good way to use up a lot of vegetables (and fruit sometimes) all at once. My salads almost always feature some kind of grain, seed, or legume. Usually, it's quinoa, couscous, or beans, but lately corn has gotten my attention. I've even been known to add some boiled potatoes on a salad. Why not? By adding a starchy food, it makes a salad a more complete meal, but it still keeps the cooking pretty minimal. I also like the combination of soft and warm mixed with cold and crunchy.

Now, all I need to do is learn how to make some great dressings at home, and I'll be set.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

8 Good Things

1. A nice haircut. It was just a trim, but I feel so much lighter.

2. Surprise gift in the mail from my sister-in-law. It's The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, and her wrapping was adorable.

3. Ginger tea. Ginger heals what ails you, but at our house, it's all about the stomach issues. I didn't realize how easy it was to make ginger tea at home with boiling water and a few slices of ginger and lemon, but it tastes great. This morning I added a couple slices of peach.

4. A new, used iPhone from my mom. Yeah, I get the irony, but I really just don't care for gadgets. I've been using the same AT&T GoPhone for more than two years, but lately I've been wishing I could occasionally use apps, so it was lucky for me that my mom upgraded her phone. I'm trying a no-contract wireless service called Ting that I hope will suit my needs just fine.

5. Reading. In addition to the book I mentioned above, I checked out some books from the library and bought some books. I'm currently reading Stupidity and Tears (the title hasn't aged well, but the central ideas are still valid) and flipping through Yoga for Pregnancy based on a recommendation from a friend.

6. Travel plans. I'm heading to Kansas City next month for a quick visit. It'll be good to get out of California for a little while, and this will probably be my last big trip before the baby comes.

7. Catching up with friends and family. We've had a couple visitors at our new place! It's just surprising because we lived here for almost a year with no visitors at our last place (there wasn't room for more than a couple people to sit and talk comfortably). Another sister-in-law brought me some more maternity clothes too. I'm loving the hand-me-downs lately.

8. The baby bump + keeping the baby stuff simple. When I lie on my back, I can now feel a definite balloon-like bump under my belly button. Baby's coming along just fine. So far, I've been stifling a little anxiety about the never-ending baby gear sold in stores. In response, I'm reading about what the true essentials are for the first couple months (lists like this and this are reassuring) and trying not to think too far ahead. I'm also looking into an online registry that would let people donate money towards a fund like "bath accessories" or "crib and bedding," which would minimize the pressure I feel to select the right items months before we'll even use them. It's making me feel a little better.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

8 Good Things

I've been busy with packing, moving, and unpacking all while trying not to overheat during said activities, but our relocation adventures and the temperatures are settling down, so I can enjoy life again.

1. My first baby dream. I used to have a recurring dream that I suddenly had a baby and was totally unprepared (like I didn't have a carseat so I figured I'd put the baby in the trunk), but since I've actually been pregnant, I've had no baby-related dreams or even just strange dreams until just a couple days ago. I dreamed we had a baby girl with enormous eyes, and I remarked that she looked like my dad (probably because dream-baby looked an awful lot like my cousin's baby I've been seeing photos of on Facebook). I was calling her by a name we are currently leaning towards. Other friends have told me they see a girl in our future too, so we'll see just how psychic we all are very soon!

2. Good deals. We moved into a 2-bedroom duplex at the end of June. It's not much to look at, but it was only $125 more per month than we were paying for our 1-bedroom loft-style apartment before, and it suits our needs. We needed to buy a few things for the new place, and although we keep saying we're going to hit up the garage sales and flea market, browsing requires a lot of energy--energy I do not have at the moment. We got lucky with coupons and with 4th of July sales, though. After searching high and low for an affordable but decent quality and nice-looking coffee table, for example, we found the perfect ottoman and were able to get 20% off with a coupon. 

3. Cooking at home again. We spent a few days in limbo with most of our stuff packed up, and we ended up eating out a lot. It got old, and I missed my usual staples. Our new kitchen is quite small, but it's nice to be cooking again. I've been trying some recipes from Isa Does It.

4. Cool mornings. We recently had a heat wave of 100+ temperatures for several days, and even the nights and mornings were hot. Happily, the heat wave has broken for now, so I'm back to enjoying the breezy, mild mornings. 

5. Curtains. Hanging curtains always makes me feel like I'm home. Plus, they block out the ridiculous afternoon sun. We put ours up with some Command hooks and cheap, lightweight tension rods. No holes in the wall. Easy.

6. The bathtub. Our last place didn't have a tub--just a shower--and it was a bummer not being able to soak in a tub. A cool bath after a hot day, especially when I've been on my feet all day, is way better than a shower.

7. Our new neighborhood. We seem to live in a predominantly Assyrian neighborhood with mostly older couples, and when it cools off for the day, they all sit out front and talk and play games. We also live close to the university, and on the 4th of July, we were able to watch a fireworks show on campus right from our back yard. Not bad at all.

8. Generally, enjoying my pregnancy. I'm at 16 weeks now. It's interesting the changes that are happening to my body. Sometimes I look like I'm showing a little baby bump and other times not, but I can feel my my body changing inside. I'm uncomfortable at times, but mostly the process is fascinating. I haven't been sick--until literally today. I'm not convinced it was morning sickness, though. I suspect the prenatal vitamins are the culprit. Anyway, I'm happy my pregnancy has been pretty uneventful. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Oh, Baby!

Blurry photo, my toes sneaking in at the bottom, caught up in a moment of nervous excitement
You might have noticed I've been a little absent from my usual posts about soup and whatnot, but the proverbial bun in the oven has kind of taken over my thoughts.

I'm going to be a mother, you guys. Of human offspring. Whoa. I'm at 12 weeks, and the baby's due date is December 22. We had our first ultrasound today. The websites say my baby is about the size of a lime or a plum. 

I hesitated making the big online announcement until today because I was having some surprising fears about this pregnancy. We'd been kind-of-trying and trying-trying for more than two years, so at first it hardly seemed real. I took two pregnancy tests and I still expected the doctor to say we had read them wrong. Then, I was convinced that I had lost the baby (even though there was no reason to believe that), and I was convinced it was because of my ineptitude or because my body is deficient. Needless to say, it's been a very stressful time for me these past several weeks. 

Seeing the baby on the screen today, hearing the heartbeat, and learning that everything looks fine at this point was an incredible relief. I finally feel excited about the baby and not just completely nervous. I know women always say this, but the fact that my body is making and housing another human is fascinating. Seeing him/her today made me feel like we have a relationship, and it went a long way towards helping me trust myself and my body. 

I'm feeling good physically--no morning sickness (lucky me!), but my appetite is certainly strange. I'm craving tangy, sour foods like mustard, Italian dressing, and limeade. I was feeling very fatigued in the beginning, but now that I'm on summer break, I'm resting and not getting crazy tired. As for the baby bump, now I understand what women were talking about when they'd say, "I don't look pregnant yet, just fat." That has not stopped me from wearing maternity clothes already. 

We'll be moving into a bigger place in the coming weeks, and I've already started knitting some baby items. Day by day, it becomes more real. Now I can finally say this and mean it: we're thrilled. 

As always, thanks for reading. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

8 Good Things

1. The Colors of Nature. It's a collection of nature essays. I'm reading it with a class this semester, and I find it to be accessible yet insightful and moving at the same time.

2. Homemade pesto. I don't know why I haven't been making pesto my whole life. It's pretty much the easiest thing ever and makes pasta night not seem like laziness because I'm making something. Recently, I made some from parsley instead of basil (because we got parsley in our CSA box), and it was still quite good.

3. Oh! Our new CSA! I told my students about CSA and several of them were saying they were looking into joining one. Then I thought, Why haven't I signed up for one yet? And then I fixed that. The first week was kale, carrots, lettuce, cauliflower, huge beets, bok choy, oranges, an avocado, strawberries, and the aforementioned parsley. We pay $25 per week/box. I can't get over how ridiculously exciting produce is when it's delivered rather than picked out by me at a store.

4. Katy Bowman's blog and books. I still have plantar fasciitis. Still. It's been about two years. I feel like I've tried everything, but a Twitter friend recommended Katy Bowman's work, and I'm giving the stretches from this book a try and paying more attention to my alignment. I've noticed a difference after a short time, so I'm hopeful. I also fashioned a less-floppy flip-flop (details later) that are incredibly comfortable for my little piggies.

5. Black bean chili with sweet potatoes. I've seen several recipes for black bean and sweet potato tacos or similar and it sounded gross, but I tossed a sweet potato into a pot of my regular black bean chili, and it was quite tasty. I didn't taste the sweet potato much, but somehow the blend was really good. I'll have to share a recipe soon.

6. Spring break! I'm actually at a pretty chill time in the semester, in between major assignments right now, but I still welcome a break. We don't have any real plans, but it's nice to catch up on some sleep.

7. Learning Spanish via pop songs. I've decided in my spare time (hah!) I'm going to improve my Spanish speaking skills (I can read and write decently) by learning songs. It's fun but really, really hard.

8. Going to UC Berkeley to listen to the Caravana 43 panel talk about what happened to the students from Ayotzinapa. Can I call this a "good" thing? I was honored to have the opportunity to hear them speak and show my support. I left feeling a greater sense of my responsibilities as an educator. So, yeah, it was a good thing that was born from a tragedy.