Monday, February 28, 2011

Baby Blessing and some Damn Fine Cookies

The hummingbird and I had quite and experience on Wednesday.

I've been going to kundalini center Golden Bridge about once a week--would be more if I lived closer. I went when I was trying to get pregnant, found it amazing, and I've been going since being pregnant. The Sikhs are incredibly present to and articulate about babies being the new souls that are coming to the earth to evolve humanity. It's a big deal to bring a child into the world and take the responsibility of raising it. Of course it is, we say! But there is something about the way they talk about it that honestly makes me feel that it is the greatest honor and the greatest privilege to be a mom. I have a favorite teacher there, Tej, and a few weeks ago--I hadn't been to her class in a while--I told her I'm pregnant, she asked how far along (15 weeks at the time), and we got to talking.

She told me about the Sikh belief that at 120 days after conception the soul of the baby enters the mother and the developing child. I believe in Judaism the belief is that it enters at the moment of conception; I'm not sure exactly what the Christian belief is; I know I've always believed the soul chooses the parents but I haven't defined when it arrives. She told me that if I were to calculate what that day was (as much as one can calculate--it's all a mystery) and come to class on that day, she'd do a blessing for the baby.

I love rituals. I am crazy for rituals. I get so into anything that channels and centers matters of the spirit, and the more belief systems I can draw from the happier I am. And that my teacher wanted to do one for me?! I left on a pink cloud--went home to figure out the date and make a plan with Tej to be in class. She suggested I bring something to share, as the whole class would be giving to me in their meditation. The day we went for our blessing was Wednesday. So Tuesday night I baked these:

Ginger Molasses Cookies. Recipe to follow.....

Wednesday arrives. We go to class. I have no idea what to expect. I feel a little shy walking in with my tin of cookies. My friend Rhonda is meeting me there. I set out my mat, and wait for Tej with everyone else. When she comes in she says "It's a big day for someone" and she starts to tell the class about me. Tells them there's a mother in the room and that it's time for the soul to enter her/me and the baby. And that this is a time when some very powerful very elevated souls are coming to the planet, and that everyone in the room today has the chance to participate in asking an one of those to come, a soul that will serve the earth and be part of a deep shift that's happening with human beings. She asks me to stand up and show everyone my belly (which is just starting to look a little bit pregnant but still, if you don't know me, could simply look like a big meal).

She starts class with a short meditation, as the big one is coming later. The kriya, or sequence in class that day, is one of grounding, balancing, and strengthening. There are lots of strong arm movements and swinging sequences--if you don't practice kundalini know that it is nothing like hatha in its moves, postures or sequences---- and lots of breath work. She talks a lot about the auric field: making it clear and strong. She talks a lot about feeling good. She happens to play music I love that day with mantras that are for healing and opening and again, getting strong. I feel myself going deeper and deeper into a quiet, profoundly happy place, and feeling so close and committed to this baby.

After an hour or so of that we meditate. In the meditation, all she talks about is me and my child. She asks everyone to bless me and thank me that I have chosen this incarnation in which I'm willing and able to bring a soul into the world. She asks them to thank me for my sacrifice (which doesn't feel like a sacrifice at all, but of course, parenting is a sacrifice of lots of things and I don't know the tip of it yet), and to with their prayers support me and everyone who will raise this child to hold the child in the highest vibration its soul will allow. She talks about the baby, and asks us to pray for a soul that will serve the earth and help to uplift us all. She asks us all to meditate on health and happiness and abundance for this soul that it may feel supported and able to do what it is here to do.

I don't know if I can describe exactly what I went through. I'll try. I've felt connected to this baby since before it arrived. I've written to her or him before I conceived, and I still do. I talk to the baby, sing to the baby. But something about a roomful of people, most of whom I don't know, and a teacher I revere spending their meditation time on me and this being I get to call my baby dropped me into a place of connection that is new. I feel, rather than just knowing with my head, how sacred it is to be a vessel for a new person. That I am the vehicle that a new being is passing through to get here. It is profound. My head can't even start to grasp it, but my heart is.

I didn't have a moment of knowing that Aha! the soul just arrived. It might have been then, it might have been that night when I slept, the soul might have been there all along especially if we want to get all trippy about time-space reality and everything happening now. It doesn't matter. The experience connected me to the magnitude of what's happening, and my gratitude has exploded 100-fold.

After class I handed out my cookies. Again, I felt a little shy but that all went away when everyone was congratulating me and being so happy for me. And the cookies were a hit. You can sub any spices you like. I've used nutmeg, I've left out the mustard, added mace. All up to you. And this time around I forgot to refrigerate them after rolling them and they were still great. Here's how to make them:

Ginger Molasses Cookies
adapted from the Food Network

2 1/4 c all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t ground ginger
1 1/4 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t allspice
1/2 t mustard
1/2 t salt
few grinds black pepper
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 c) unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 c sugar, plus a little extra for rolling cookies
1/4 c dark brown sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 c unsulphured molasses
2 T ginger preserves

1. Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, pepper and dry spices together in a bowl.

2. Beat butter and sugars on med-hi til light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add egg yolk and vanilla and beat on medium speed til just incorporated. Add molasses and ginger preserves and beat about 30 seconds more, til batter is an even light brown color.

3. Ad dry ingredients all at once, beating slowly to make a soft smooth dough. Use rubber spatula to make sure all ingredients are combined. Beat again for 20 seconds. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate til firm, about 25 minutes.

4. Put about 1/2 c sugar in a small bowl. With a small ice cream scoop or sturdy tablespoon, scoop heaping tablespoons of dough for each cookie. Roll the dough by hand into balls. Roll the tops of the balls in sugar, and space them about 2 inches apart on a nonstick or slightly oiled baking sheet. Refrigerate again until firm.

5. While cookies are chilling, preheat oven to 375.

6. Bake until top is crackly and insides peeking out are dark and moist but not raw, about 15-20 minutes. Briefly cool on cookie sheets, then transfer tp racks to cool completely.

They'll keep for up to 3 weeks sealed.

Now I have to be patient and wait to feel the little bird moving. I'm almost 19 weeks, and some women feel flutters at 18. I haven't yet, and I want to! But it's that watched pot thing.....


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Up North

We did, as I said we would, head to San Fran over the weekend. We did, as I said we would, eat A LOT. I'm being really conscious in my pregnancy that this is not a time to eat whatever I want whenever I want to because 1) I want to feed the hummingbird beautiful nutritious things instead of a bunch of refined crap and 2) there will be weight to lose later. That's inevitable. But I'd like it to be the weight I needed to gain and not the weight that came on because I started eating for 5 instead of 2.

That said, it was SO FUN to indulge pretty much all weekend. I was liberated. It was so good.

Friday night we walked through freezing mean rain to The Slanted Door. Yummy and relatively light. Til we got the apple cotton candy at the end. We were determined to walk as we'd been in the car for 6 hours, but that fantasy died as soon as we got to the restaurant and declared those 15 minutes as some of the most miserable of our lives. Inverted umbrella from the wind and rain pouring horizontally into our faces and of course we hadn't brought gloves or hats. It's only February after all. We cabbed it back to the hotel.

Saturday morning was more brutal weather so my plans to trawl the insane farmers' market at the Ferry Building were curtailed. The stands were open, but I wasn't going out there. Instead I stayed happy inside trying little samples of thises and thats (Sky's always made fun of me for how much I love the samples) and curbing urges to bring home boxes of cupcakes and candies

jars of spices from Boulette's Larder
(I did bring back small containers of turmeric root, white cardamom, and their chef's Chinese 5-space blend, Very reasonable I think.)

And, hello! Varieties of mushrooms I have never heard of. What is a Lion's Mane? Must research.
I tried this yogurt, which I don't care if some reviews say is Elitist yogurt. It was completely delicious and served in a canning jar with scrumptious fruit compote on top. Yes.

Saturday night we ate at Chez Panisse Cafe. I actually got us a reservation 3 days before due to someone cancelling, and I thought I had gone up to heaven for the couple hours we were there. No photos to show you, but rest assured it was one of the most beautiful meals I've ever had. Must try to imitate their salsa di noci: a chunky sauce of walnuts and fresh herbs that was served on the pansotti (translate giant ravioli) filled with chard, chrysanthemum, and ricotta. Their kitchen is how I want my kitchen someday: all brick and wood and steel. I think I should commemorate it by hanging this in my kitchen now
Sky loves the number 13.

There was some incredible yoga in between Ferry Building and Chez P but more on that in a moment.

Sunday brunch at Pizzeria Delfina

best ricotta ever
I am totally onboard with the egg-on-pizza trend. Mama needs her protein.

And post-brunch afternoon snack (?) at Tartine

would have loved to bring this home. Meringue and caramel?? It's a Melanie cake. But I don't think it travels. What did travel and came home with me to have on Monday morning was the frangipane (ie almond) croissant

and after. That didn't take long.

I could have brought home the whole bakery. We devoured a Morning Bun, which on principle I will never order, but like I said, I was liberated. And have been having Sticky Morning Whatever bun fantasies for a couple of weeks. Gone before I could snap. Damn that orange peel in the sugar.

Before we left on Sunday night Sky got to choose. The man had been following me around SF for 48 hours. I could concede one meal. We went to the place he ate every other day 10 years ago when he lived in the Mission. Truly Mediterranean. And not being a huge falafel fan myself, I have to say it was pretty f-ing good. They do something to their tahini, and that something is delish.

The reason for traveling to SF now was because John Friend was teaching. I could and most probably will in the future write a lot more on him. In his class on Saturday he wove in a concept which I've been walking around with and using every since: unclenching the heart. Love that image. We did deep hip openers for an hour with an image of a person that causes us tension, stress, anger, or fear in our mind, and for that hour of asking the body to yield, kept asking the heart to unclench as well. After just 60 minutes, I felt such peace around that person and in a state of grace in myself. Along with dissolving pain I had around someone else, worries and fears about my own life left as well. I wove it into my class yesterday, but find myself thinking on that as I go through the day. What keeps me coming back to yoga is not how much I can open a hamstring, but how much it can help me be in life. This was one of those experiences.

Monday in LA I spazzed out around the house (my heart definitely clenched for a bit) feeling like it's never going to be done, but calmed down a bit when we walked through our neighborhood where the cherry trees are in full bloom. Life can only be beautiful when there are rows of these to walk amongst.

Good to be back, and I can't wait to go back.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

How does it happen that I'm still sitting here in my puffy jacket I pulled out since it was raining this morning, haven't turned any lights on, have been lying on my stomach (better do it while I still can) and have been roaming the internet long??

There's a pile of paper next to me for recycling since I did manage to pay some bills and organize some receipts in the middle of researching all the places I want to EAT this weekend when we go to San Francisco. You'll get the full report next week, but in the meantime if you have a favorite restaurant that's veggie-friendly do tell. I'm pretty sad I only get six meals there, and that's if we wake up early/stay up late enough to merit eating that. Baby has me realllly sleepy these days. I think someone is growing fast. And therefore needs LOTS of food. Tartine, I'm coming. Save a loaf.

I think the last time I was in San Fran is when Sky and I got engaged. Is that right?? He took me on a surprise trip to Napa, made the room look like this
while I was at the gym, and after an epic sort of obstacle course/blindfolded sensory treasure hunt gave me this
That night we went to Bouchon (pictured here
the next day when we went back. For macarons. You know how I feel about macarons.)

I wore this faux fur which my amazing stepmom found me on ebay and I still love. One can't not feel glamourous when wearing this. Mad Men costume designer would approve, methinks.
It was all appropriately rainy and romantic
and on the way home I got to see where my then-future-husband partied way too much
I think I'm glad I didn't go to Stanford, if only because had I known him then we might have been ruined for each other.

Did I just comb through my past for images for you? Totally. And they're all of Napa when we're spending most of our time in the city. I can't help it. I'm an emotional pregnant lady and there's nothing like a sentimental trip through the past to offset the rage I felt when the Gas Co. failed to show up for the service appointment I scheduled the day around. So I'm sitting here being sappy.

OK, yeah, we're off to NoCal; I'll be back here on Monday and will probably talk about food. Although we're also going up there to take a workshop with John Friend, who really is as special as I've always heard he is. I'm loving practicing yoga pregnant, I gotta say. I've never gotten so much tender individual attention from senior teachers:)

Have a beautiful rest of your week. See you after Presidents' Day.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Hearts Day

The girls at Dandelion Ranch sent this over
gorgeous, no?

Sky and I celebrated Valentine's over the weekend but today, if I were living in an alternate universe where it was 85 degrees (although it was close here this weekend) and my body wasn't changing to the point where I dare not buy clothes because I might not be able to wear them next week, I'd jump on a boat (because I'd have a boat) with him and I'd be wearing this

(it's red after all)
or this

since there are definitely blue valentines
(both from DVF)
and we'd watch the sunset with a cocktail not a mocktail while I lounged in a chaise in this
from Paul and Joe. White for purity. Of heart anyway......

Don't get me wrong, though. I wouldn't trade this universe with my little hummingbird (now apparently the size of a chicken breast--WHY must it always be food they compare it to?) for all the glam clothes in the world. But in that parallel universe......

Have a sweet day whatever you do.

Friday, February 11, 2011

New Favorite Comfort Food

This is something you can whip up really fast. And it's really tasty. It came about when I realized I had to cook dinner on a night I was getting home around 7:30. That makes anything that takes elaborate prep lead to a dinner that's too late for this pregnant lady. Gone are the days of "Oh, I can wait til 10 to eat". It's more like "Feed me before I mow through the cheese department at Whole Foods" at the glamourous hour of about 7pm.

Driving around I thought about what was in the cupboards. There was that (I'm ashamed to say it as I don't buy canned food as a rule but somehow this was in there....) can of cannelini beans. There was leftover penne arrabiata in the fridge. There were some winter veggies. I always have a can (speaking of cans which I don't buy unless they're San Marzano tomatoes which somehow feel righteous in their Italianness) of tomatoes.....

And here you have the product of that thinking: a winter soup that's hearty enough to be the main dish and so easy you can start it at 7:45 and be eating by 8:30. I remembered the Alice Waters Bean and Pasta soup in her Art of Simple Food. This is loosely loosely based on that.

Easy Winter Soup

1 can cannelini beans (garbanzos would work too....or any legume I guess)
olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 celery stick, chopped
1 bay leaf
some dried chile (I grind whole ones up in a spice grinder; you could use flakes)
1 bay leaf
herb of your choice: I used tarragon since Sky loves it
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 one of those big cans of San Marzano tomatoes, chopped
some pasta noodles (potatoes would be great as well)--I used penne
salt, pepper, parmesan cheese

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions
2. While you're waiting for water to boil, and as the pasta cooke, make the soup: pour enough olive oil into soup pot to coat bottom; warm on med-high heat for 2 minutes
3. Add onion, carrot, celery, chile, bay leaf, tarragon, a little salt. Cook til veggies start to soften 5-10 minutes (lower heat if they're browning too quickly)
4. Add garlic cloves , cook another minute or two more
5. Add tomatoes and cook with veggies a few minutes longer
6. Add beans and cover with water (I didn't have stock on hand but by all means use that if you do). Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat and cook about 10 minutes, allowing flavors to meld.
7. By this point your pasta should be done or nearly done; once you've drained it, add as much as you like to soup and cook just for a minute or two as you don't want mushy pasta.
8. Season with salt and pepper to taste
9. Once soup is in bowls, top with some good olive oil and some parmesan cheese

I had it for lunch again today

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Where it Went

i decided to take down the post about my friend. seemed like too much info on too public a domain, y'know?
yummy soup coming on friday

Monday, February 7, 2011


Nothing fancy today. Simply want to tell you about a new product I stumbled upon yesterday when returning something at Sur La Table. Boos Board Cream. It's like a cocoa butter massage or a paraffin mask for your cutting board. I've always used plain mineral oil to care for my boards, one of which is a Boos Block (and I got it at Sur La Table so I'll link it there) and I happen to adore it. Doesn't matter if yours is Boos or not, if you keep the wood moist the board lasts much longer and the surface stays nice. Nice doesn't quite describe it now that I used this.

Massage it in at night (seriously, it says that), let it sit, and wipe off the excess in the morning. It's like having a new board. And there was something rather sweet about gently rubbing my board. Ok I talked to it, but you don't have to spread that around. I think it really appreciated it. The cream is just beeswax and mineral oil so totally safe, doesn't smell, all of that. And it's about $8. Not bad. Available on Amazon, Sur La Table, I think even Bed Bath and Beyond. Use on cutting boards, wooden utensils, butcher blocks......

Now I'm just waiting for the cutting board to talk back.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Shades of Grey

Before I tackle something as important as paint color, I have to say Thank You. Getting your congratulations and love was as wonderful as hearing it from the friends I talk to on the phone every day. I had tears reading them:) And if any of you have specific questions about any part of my process, you can always email me: I LOVE talking about this. Thank you thank you thank you for being on this journey with me.

So. The house. I will take some pics this weekend so we have before and after shots. The floor is pretty clear thanks to Ikea, and we have some great furniture on the way. Last weekend was successful! We're going to repaint the den/dining area, as well as our bedroom. They're right next to each other at the back of the house, and we're thinking a warmer, deeper grey in the family part of the house
and a lighter, softer grey in the bedroom (like the accents in this room)
The sectional we fell in love with at Weego Home and will have in about 4 weeks when it's ready is this delicious thing
but in a beautiful dark, almost reddish brown leather. It is so so so so SO comfy and the leather is sumptuous and elegant. So picture that with a warm grey, a cozy little rug and some blankets and I think there's a good nest in the making. The front of the house is incredibly sunny all day and we're keeping that a lot lighter. I think the contrast will be nice......Feel free to weigh in. And have a beautiful beautiful weekend.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I Haven't Been Eating All the Cookies

Or that's what I've wanted to tell everyone over the last couple of months. I don't know when the perfect moment is to talk about this. I'm up early, couldn't really sleep last night, and I've always liked early mornings for talking about things close to the soul.
I'm having a baby.

I know it's been a very very very long time since I talked much about the baby-making process and health stuff going on with that, and feelings going on with that, so maybe you guessed. Or thought I'd given up. Or figured I didn't want to talk about it anymore. Not at all. Sky and I found out in the middle of November; I'm now 16 weeks, and I've been waiting to tell you til 1) we were out of the first trimester and 2) I'd gotten a chance to tell my closest friends. I wanted to tell them before they read it on the internet.

So yeah. Amazing. Not sure what to say now:)

I'll say I had a gnarly first trimester with moderately-intense nausea from about 10am-9pm Monday-Sunday for about 5 weeks. I'm feeling great for the most part now---having some of those second trimester growing pains in my abdomen and back which can get intense now and then, and some serious bouts of hormones which out of nowhere can trigger urges to sit on the living room floor and sob for a few minutes. But they are few and far between, pass quickly, and make me laugh after the fact. And I can fit exactly two pairs of my pre-pregnancy pants, and they're tight, which is why I've wanted to send out the cookie alert. There's not much of a belly there, so guess where the baby weight so far has gathered!

The hummingbird (my nickname for my baby) is due July 24th. My birthday is July 23, so it's possible we'll share that. I joke with the baby that it better know its mama well enough to know that she does not like sharing birthdays, but baby might have a wicked sense of humor and go for that very thing. I don't know if it's a boy or a girl, and I won't know til I meet the little one.

The day we found out was a Saturday morning. I'd suspected that maybe it had happened, but I'd suspected that a few weeks prior and had been wrong and so sad. I'd taken 2 home tests already, and they'd both come back negative, and I was baffled and not convinced and scared they were right all at the same time. I waited a few more days, thinking maybe we'd tested too early, and after peeing on the stick I waited the 2 minutes or whatever it was, went back in, checked the stick out, and said to Sky who was in the other room, "It says No."

I felt hopeless in that moment. What the F was going on with my body then?

I peered a little closer and there, in the faintest shade of pink perceivable to the human eye, was a second line. "Hold on a minute. I think it says Yes." I ran into the bedroom. "Is that a second line?"

And the rest leads us to where we are now.

For whatever reason, I did have the faintest, hardest-to-detect line ever, but it was a line nonetheless. That day I went around in a bit of a haze. I wanted it to be true and I was scared that somehow it still wasn't true. I didn't even really want to talk about it. I'd waited for a long time and there were several people who didn't think this could happen for me without the drugs they wanted me to take. Maybe my home test was wrong.

I went to the doctor---the same doctor I'd been to in March, found out my PCOS was worse and sat weeping in the car for an hour after---and got a test there. Positive. I went back a week later to test that my hormone levels were rising properly. They were perfect. And then it started to be real.

We told our immediate families over Thanksgiving, and started telling close friends before 3 months. It was true for me that should anything go wrong, I'd want my friends' support, so telling them felt right.

It's this extraordinary surreality where I know there's someone in there, but I don't feel that being moving yet, so sometimes I've had to remind myself that Yes, You're Pregs. But I started writing to the baby even before it was born in a journal I have just for that, and have done that since we found out. I'm keeping a list of who thinks it's a boy, who thinks it's a girl. I did a happy dance when I no longer fit my old bras (I've waited for cleavage my whole life). I wake up a lot with my hand on my belly and in our ultrasound a couple of weeks ago it looks like the baby has my shape face. Hearing the heartbeat....that was magic.

That second bedroom in the new house is, in fact, the baby room. That Lululemon top from Monday that I thought would be great for those mommies-to-be---I speak from experience. And if anyone does think I've just been eating a lot of cookies, they can think away. My body is not my business and it gets to do whatever it needs to do to support the beautiful little life I'm carrying around with me.

My friends, miracles happen. We just can't give up before they do.