Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Nada Nada Lemonada

I'm this close to loosing my sanity. The only thing that is keeping me out "Bellevue" (and I don't mean the city my fellow Northwesterners) are my wonderful wonderful friends and family. I think I will perform a study that will demostrate that time actually goes by much more quickly when you are in good company.

I don't have the mental capacity to blog right now, so go ahead and click on over to the Princess' blog to see the most adorable baby in the world.

Monday, September 24, 2007

No Sleep?- More Food.

OK, here's another recipie.

This one is scalable, so it works well for 2 people or 10 people. It also freezes well(without the rice.)

Peach Salsa Chicken (originally from the Duke's aunt, but I have drastically altered it)

This sounds strange, but everyone I feed it to loves it.

-The same number of boneless skinless chicken breasts as the number of people you want to feed- cubed (if you are feeding a lot of people, cut it back by 1. I usually cook 4-5 breasts)
-Cooking Oil
-Equal amounts of drained canned peaches chopped or pureed- (I put them through my mini food procesor, but just chopped them before I had it) and salsa. Enough to cover the chicken. To give you and idea, I use about 1.5 cups of each for 4-5 chicken breasts.
-1 Packet of taco seasoning.
-3 cups (or enough to feed the people) uncooked white rice.

Set your rice to cook, either on the stovetop or in a rice cooker. Note: I never use instant rice, as I lived in the Philippines and well, I just couldn't. This needs a sticky rice, so I wouldn't recommend it.
Brown the cubed chicken in the cooking oil
Add the peaches, salsa, and taco seasoning.
Bring to a simmer
Cover and let simmer for 15-20 min to give the flavors time to meld.
Serve over cooked rice.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Delicious Distractions

So Friday, Tzarina and I were talking about the way that I cook and the way that I buy groceries. I don't plan out a menu for the week like many of you do, but I never have to go to the grocery store in order to make dinner. In fact, I only go to the grocery store once or twice a month. I thought I'd share how that works.

I have about 40 or so dinners in my "working vocabulary." Meaning that I have the ingredients memorized and either don't need a recipe, or only need to glance at it briefly. I keep the ingredients for those 40 dinners in my house all the time. (Naturally, many of them overlap.) Before I go to the grocery store (read: Costco) I make a list of things I am out of, not really things I need to make specific dinners. I then buy those things in bulk. The Duke and I have a good portion of our garage dedicated to storable food, as we don't have a pantry, as well a freezer chest for freezable items.

This is great for three reasons: I always have a choice as to what to make for dinner (I tend to cook according to how much time I have and what I am feeling like, a major reason that a weekly menu doesn't work for me.), because I buy our food in bulk I save money in the long run, and I only have to go to the store once or twice a month- a big bonus for me, as I don't really enjoy this activity.

As for fresh items, veggies, ect. I employ a bi-weekly delivery service for those kind of things.

I have talked to other of my friends about how I buy food and cook and didn't realize that it was unusual for a long time, as both The Queen, and my MIL cook and store food this way. In Utah, perhaps, where big familes are common this is also more common, but I think it's a great way to take care of the needs for our small family too.

I told Tzarina that I would email her some of my working recipes. They are nothing fancy, just good home style food, but since I am typing them up anyway, I thought I would post them here for others, if they are so inclined.

These two soups make a lot. Enough for 6-8 people. I make them for the Duke and I anyway because they freeze well. It's nice to have a "frozen dinner" on a busy night that isn't a frozen dinner at all.

Chicken Noodle Soup (from my own head)

4-5 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
8 cups water
12 bullion cubes
6-7 carrots (peeled and slices)
1 med onion, chopped
3 med potatoes (peeled and cubed)
1 can of corn or 1.5 cups of frozen corn
2-3 stalks of celery (I often leave this out if I don't have it)
2 Tbls minced garlic
abt 2 cups pasts of choice
the following amounts are approx and should be added to taste or can be substituted:
1 tsp dryed parsley
1 tsp dryed oregano
1 tsp dryed thyme
1/2 tsp dryed rosemary
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Throw it all in a pot and cook until the pasta is soft.

Taco Soup (from my MIL- originally from her friends at the school where she taught)

1 lbs ground beef, browned and drained (I use the same pot I cook the soup in.)
1 large can of tomato juice
1 green pepper (or red, or Anaheim, I've used any of them)
three cans of beans (I use pinto, red, and kidney- it doesn't much matter)
1 can of corn or 1.5 cups frozen corn
1 packet of taco seasoning
abt 2 cups pasta of choice

Throw it all in pot, cook 'til the pasta is soft, sever with cheese and sour cream.



Thank you all again for your comments, emails, phone calls. I really do appreciate it. The Duke and I did make our decision, after one of the worst nights yet, we decided to try the second, more dangerous, drug. Again, it did nothing. Now we wait for Wed. and another Dr.'s appointment.

In the meantime, some of you have asked if there is anything you can do. . . well, the only thing that helps right now is being distracted. So distract me!!! Post to your blogs, they are a great distraction for me.

Here are a few things around here that I have employed in the distraction arena.

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My new computer desk (housing my computer of course!)

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Chocolate in adorable packaging. A Chinese friend of mine once gave me a package of these mushroom shaped candies, and not only was I hooked on the candy (so yummy!) the packaging makes me smile every time.

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The candies really are shaped just like they are depicted (cartoon style) on the package, like little mushrooms.

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Cute baby things are always good for a little distraction, and our bedding arrived in the mail a few days ago. The Afircanesk stuffed animals the Princess and I bought go so well with it! I'll show the entire nursery when we get it put together.

Knitting and Spinning have always been a happy distraction for me, but as one of the symptoms of Chorea is weak and or painful hands, that has been difficult. I have been able to do a little knitting.
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It's funny, Shazmina asked in her latest blog entry what we tend to cast on for when our knitting desire has stalled. I knit what I call my "therapy sweater." It's a simple bottom up raglan, all stst, in worsted weight yarn. It usually takes me about a week to knit it. I happen to be knitting one now (it's great for all knitting, no thinking which is all I can handle right now.) This is a little over three weeks worth of progress. Oh well, progress is progress I suppose, even when it's so slow.

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Spinning is usually good for a little distraction as well, but I had been struggling with it hurting my hands. This is what I had been spinning, and while I love the colors, I realized a few days ago that the reason that it was causing my hands to hurt was that because this particular roving was a tad felted. It was very difficult to draft, no wonder my hands hurt!

So I pulled it off of my wheel and rooted around for something else to spin. I found some dark silver merino/silk I had purchased and promised to spin for Tzarina for her birthday way back in March (Bad friend BAD!)
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The singles spun up with such ease it was like the fiber was spinning itself (much better for me hands.) The also turned out so beautifully that Tzarina decided that she wanted them left as singles. I can't wait to see what she knits out of it.

Next I found a combined (not blended, the fibers were still distinct from one another) batt that I purchased several months ago from The Artful Ewe. It was (if I remember right) BFL, alpaca, silk, and mohair. I had been wanting to work on my worsted spinning (long backward draw) and thought this was the perfect fiber for it.
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The singles

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2 plied

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The "waste"- I love it when this is all that is left on the bobbin with more fiber, so satisfying to person obsessed with efficiency.

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The finished "fluffy" and supper soft yarn.

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And a close-up. It was fun to let some of the mohair locks and other fluffy parts of the batt remain sticking out. I love how it turned out- about 140 yds of a light worsted weight.

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And last, but no where near least, good friends and family have been doing their best to distract me. Tzarina came over on Friday and brought these adorable knit pants for the alien. I can't wait (for more than one reason) to see him in them! The Queen,the Princess, and Sarah (who is hopefully having a baby this weekend!) too, have been doing their best to keep me distracted with near daily phone calls and emails. It's so wonderful to have good friends and family. I love you guys!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Silence and Silk

So, I've been pretty quiet for a person who is supposedly feeling better, don't you think. Oh that would be due to the insult that science added to the injury nature has all ready inflicted on me. Yes, the drugs worked, for two nights, and after that. . . like I said insult to injury.

Yesterday's appointment with the neurologist ended in frustration. The Duke and I are now faced with a decision to make, and none of the options are good. The details are too depressing (and perhaps too personal for once) so instead, a little distraction to lighten all of our moods


While I was in Utah the Queen and I took a silk spinning class. It was facinating. I had no idea that silk came in so many forms. My favorite by far was the silk hankies or bells.

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Here is what the hankie that I bought looked like.

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You pull a layer at a time from the hankie.

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Then create a hole in the middle of that thin layer. You make that hole bigger until you have a silk 'doughnut' and finally break the loop in one place so that silk now looks like a very delicate (which it is not) and spiderweb-like roving.

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You would not belive (well you can if you've spun sikk before, but I never had) how fine you can spin this stuff, or how tough it is. You actually have to pull with some force to draft it.

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And the end result. . . who wouldn't love this.

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About 250 yards, 2 plyed, from one once of silk- yes it is very much a lace weight. I have no idea what I am going to do with it, maybe nothing other than look at it and let it make me happy.

Yes, I may have a new addictive problem on my hands. At least the Duke can rest assured that it won't take full effect until sometime after the alien arrives.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

It's Good to be Sweet!

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What do you do when your loving Duke is turning 30 (yesterday was his birthday) and he requests a carrot cake with REAL cream cheese frosting, keeping in mind of course that you are allergic to dairy?

Well, you make it for him of course! I just found that if I got a little creative that I could share his birthday cake with him as well.

First off, the cake was converted to cupcakes. I love cupcakes and the Duke doesn't care one way or the other. (I think he really likes cupcakes better too, they are more fun to eat than a piece of cake!)

Then, I made two batches of frosting. One with REAL cream cheese and the other with soy cream cheese. As my allergy is not sever, just annoying (I get a rash on my face) I tasted a bit of the real kind to see how different it is from the soy version, they taste so similar I don't think anyone would be able to say which was which.

SWEET! Carrot Cupcakes!

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The top four are the real cream cheese and the bottom four are the soy cream cheese. (Please excuse the crummy camera phone photos- my camera's batteries are dead and I have no replacements in the house.)

You say you need more sweetness than that? Oh, well let me help you.

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Here I am with my sweet little niece who is sitting on top of a donkey- yes a donkey! And where, you might ask, did we find a donkey? Oh just in the Queen and King's front yard. Yes people, here is proof that I have not always been a city girl, but at one time was a sweet country girl. Let's just focus on my adorable niece, though. Have you ever seen such a sweet girl?

SWEET- a super cute niece on a donkey!

Oh, and if that isn't enough sweetness for you, I have a baby bit more!

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Here is "W" remembering his great grandparent's generation. Here he is doing his best impersonation of Kilroy!

SWEET! A baby Kilroy!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


The drugs seem to be working. I slept for 13 blessed hours last night. All day my heart, body, and soul were grateful for the miracle of modern medicine. I feel like myself for the first time in over seven months.

I also woke up on one of the most sober days of the year. It made me consider that through God, it is our open, educated, curious, and vibrant society that gave me this beautiful day. My doctors were educated in the US, the drug was developed in the US, and those things are available to me because I live in the US. Now, while we may not always agree with how our health care system works (and I don't) it is a complex and awe inspiring (if not always in a good way) part of our culture. It was our culture that was under attack six years ago today, our way of life.

Today I was grateful to be able to celebrate and live an amazing accomplishment of our culture. The men and women that died that day died as martyrs for the American way of life. Today I remembered them and rejoiced in the power and majesty of what they died for. We became stronger as a nation that day not weaker, that is the greatness of the American people.

Since that day when we stood united there has been a lot of questions, a lot of confusions, a lot of noise. It was an event that we will never understand, nor will we ever fully understand the aftermath. There will always be unanswered questions, anger, and frustration, but I suggest that amidst all the contention we remember that we are blessed to live in a simply magnificent country and enjoy a lifestyle few others enjoy. Remember that. We are not perfect, perfection is impossible, but would you live anywhere else? I have lived abroad, I have experienced the "other way." I am proud to be an American and I will forever be grateful for the blessing of living in this blessed land.

On our recent trip to NYC we were able to visit the 9-11 visitor's center and look down into the hole that was once the WTC. It was sobering, it was difficult, and it was powerful. Not only did the victims and their families become very real, so did the impassioned response of the country. We were all victims to some extent that day. Our peace of mind, our confidence, our way of life came under attack that day. It changed all of us.

Like all tragedies, we all dealt with it differently. Some of us became patriots that day, some of became cynics. Some of us asked "how could this happen?" and some asked "how will we heal?" Some of us tore down walls of solitude and some of us built them up.

However, we all cried, either aloud or in our hearts, we all mourned, and we promised to never forget.

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The heroes.

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The wreckage- part of an airplane.

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The unimaginable- a basket used to transport remains.

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The grief- "missing" fliers.

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The unchangable reality.

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The response - 10,000 hand folded Japanese paper cranes.

Monday, September 10, 2007


Thank you all who left comments and emailed me. It really does help knowing that there are friends out there thinking of us and praying for us.

We go the results of the MRI today, everything looks normal. No tumors, no structural abnormalities. The lab tests for the more rare things the doctor wanted to check for were not back yet, but he feels confident that there isn't an underlying disease.

He prescribed a drug used for neurological pain to see if it will stop the thrashing and hopefully I will be able to sleep. I'll let y'all know if it works AFTER I WAKE UP!!! Keep your fingers crossed for us.

And thank you again for your friendships and supportive words.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Difficult Days

Hello Friends,

Please excuse my continued absence from my blog. The Duke, the alien, and I are making our way through some difficult days.

Three weeks ago I presented with some kind of strange symptoms, my legs were jerking back and forth keeping me from getting good sleep. We originally thought it was probably a bad electrolyte imbalance and acted accordingly. The movements continued to get stronger despite carefully following my doctor (and ever vigilant pharmacist-husband's) suggestions. On Tuesday, after I had gone over 36 hours without sleep, the Duke called my doctor and asked for a same day appointment. He carefully examined my legs and asked about the movements. He said he had never seen anything like this and referred me to a neurologist.

On Wed. I went to see the neurologist. After a very thorough and most unusual exam he diagnosed me with a pregnancy related disorder called Chorea Gravidarum. The reason my OB had never seen it is because it is very rare, only reported in 1 per every 139,000 pregnancies.

Lucky me. Maybe I should think about buying a lottery ticket.

It isn't dangerous to me or to the baby unless the condition leads to dehydration, malnutrition, disturbed sleep, or injury. It should go away no later than two weeks after I deliver. We are hoping it goes away sooner. It is treatable, but the treatment is potentially harmful to the baby, so naturally, they prefer to not treat it if the patient can tolerate it.

Again, lucky me.

In the mean time I was instructed that it would not be near a painful if I didn't try to resist the movements. That is easier said than done, especially when it moved into my lower back and arms. It is true it isn't as painful, but it is very distressing to have you body move violently without you telling it too.

Also, as Chorea is a symptom of several diseases (it is a syndrome, not a disease) I am now being subjected to a battery of tests for a list of scary sounding illnesses. Chorea has been known to show up randomly in pregnancy with no apparent underlying cause. That is what we are hoping for, and what my family and medical history suggest. The neurologist just, naturally, wants to rule out anything else.

So this morning I went for an MRI of my brain. They asked me if I am claustrophobic. I told them no, as I have never felt fear of small spaces before. I was wrong. Let me suggest that if you ever need to have an MRI, don't open you eyes, not even for a quick peek. That machine is very large looking from the outside, and so you would think that the inside would be at least half that big. That's what I thought anyway. No, it's very very very small. The wall is just inches from your face. Just keep you eyes closed and let your brain believe that the cylinder you are in is much bigger than it actually is.

The MRI was also very distressing to the poor alien. Both the doctor and the technician assured me repeatedly that the MRI was not dangerous to the baby (they didn't use any dye.) The technician, however, told me that he (baby) would likely react during the scans because they are very loud (I had headphones on.) He was right. The poor little alien must have been scared out of his wits. I have never felt the little guy kick so hard and he kept it up nearly the entire time. I felt so bad for him and I couldn't even comfort him by patting my belly, as you have to hold still during the scans. Poor little alien.

Tomorrow we go in for blood draws three and four. Monday we will see the neurologist to get the results of everything.

You can see that knitting, spinning, and blogging have been moved a few rungs down on my priority ladder for the time being, so blog posts may be more scarce for a while. Hopefully I'll be back sooner rather than latter.

In the mean time, if you can spare a happy thought, a little extra karma, or some good juju, we wouldn't mind if you sent it our way.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

"Blogging? Do we Still do That?" or "Misleading Images of my Summer Torture."

I have now been back for five days. I said I would return to the blogging world when I had recovered from the month away from home. It has become apparent that I will not recover any time soon, as sleep is a main requirement for recovery, and this baby has decided that I will not sleep any time soon. . . so as women are wont to do. . . I have decided that moving forward is the only option.

Now that you have had a few days to absorb the adorable pictures of my new nephew, it is time for pictures of yarn and what might pass for typical vacation photos.

Several of you said that I must not miss School Products, the oldest yarn store in Manhattan. It is difficult to find, but well worth the search. The owners are the creators and distributors of Karablla Yarns, and while I did not meet the wife, the husband was very very nice. I agree, if you can only visit one yarn store in NYC, make it this one. What, you might ask, makes a this yarn store, with no store front, on the third floor of a plain looking office building so special? The owner's relationship with the mills who produce Karabella Yarns for them. You can find there any Karabella Yarn in any color, along with many other lovely comerically available yarns, however, that alone is not enough to make it so special. The mills who create the yarns for them also produce yarns for high end clothing companies such as Armani. They sell their mill ends from these yarns to School Products at a highly discounted rate and they graciously pass these one of a kind and offerings onto their customers at great prices. You can get a sampling of them on their website.

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These four are: first, the light brown is several thousand yards of merino lace weight; the multi color at the top is a cashmere, merino, silk blend that has been hand painted; the camel color in the middle is in fact baby camel; and the blue is a lovely cotton and silk that told me that it had to go home to live with Tzarina.

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This was my main purchase, about 2.5 lbs of a 70/30 Merino/Cashmere blend. It is an aran weight and is destined to be a long cabled sweater. I can hardly wait!

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I did also visit Purl Soho, but didn't buy anything. It is a cute little yarn store with a friendly staff, but didn't offer anything that I can't get here in Seattle, and after School Products, my yarn budget for the entire year is pretty much shot.

I did make a purchase of fabric at their fabric store a few doors down, two adorable bundle of fat quarters, one each for the Princess and the Queen.

Our day spent in Soho was hard on my feet, but relaxing and fun. I also acquired something for the Alien, of course.

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Isn't it hysterically adorable. I love it!

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We ate here in Soho, and of course we had to have a picture.

A few other New Yorkish pictures. . .

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The Duke inside the Stature of Liberty

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St. Patrick's Cathedral

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View from our hotel room in Midtown near Central Park.

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And an amazingly beautiful window display in, of all places, the front windows of a Chocolatier.

OK, that's all for now. Washington DC and Tooele to follow.