Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Lickity Split Bag

I bought this pattern after I read Made By Rae's blog post about her perfect bag. She describes it as a stroller/diaper/shopping bag. The fact that it could be sewn up quickly was the main selling point for me. Size wise the pattern piece is very similar to the Amy Butler Nappy Bag I made earlier, but it has squared off corners and of course ties at the top instead of being connected. I think that I might like this bag better than the Nappy Bag because stuff seems to get lost in those pointed corners plus you can untie this bag and dig through it, or dump it out if necessary.

I've made two of these so far and as promised they are a quick sew. Even cutting out the pattern is quick. The second one I made in exactly one hour from start to finish (no pockets) with Selena "helping" me.

I used Marcus Brother's Porcelina collection for the fabric. I bought 6 yards of fabric from this collection and I think I am going to use it up quickly. The bag below was made for a baby shower gift.

Homemade Ice Cream That is Better Than You Can Buy

I got an ice cream making machine for Christmas and have spent the last nine months making lots and lots of different kinds ice cream. It is really addicting and is a step towards fulfilling my goal to not eating any processed foods. ;) My first few batches were not very good, but the more and more ice cream I make the better it is. Here is what I've learned so far:


I have the Cuisinart 1-1/2-Quart Automatic Ice Cream Makers. It seems to be a really popular machine. Lots of great reviews on Amazon, and can be found at most any store. It is very easy to use. It has a bowl that has some special freezing potion inside it. You keep the bowl in the freezer all the time and pull it out when you are ready to mix up the ice cream. It is open on top so you can peek inside and see how the ice cream is doing. It is big enough to make about 4 - 5 generous servings of ice cream. It takes about 15 - 30 minutes for a batch of ice cream to thicken up. My only complaint is that some of the non-stick coating has scraped off when I scoop the ice cream out of the container. I am sure that the stuff is not good for you to ingest.


I bought Perfect Scoop: Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas, and Sweet Accompaniments and Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book. I first started reading these recipe books and it talked about how much better homemade ice cream was than store bought and I didn't exactly agree with them as my ice cream hadn't turned out that great so far, but then I tried the Lemon Ice Cream recipe in the Perfect Scoop and changed my mind. The Strawberry Sour Cream one is also a favorite of mine. The flavors are really strong. The strawberry ice cream really tastes like strawberries and the lemon ice cream really tastes like lemon. Mmmmm. I prefer the Perfect Scoop over the Ben and Jerry's book.

So far I have made strawberry, plum, mango, lemon, peach, fresh mint, chocolate fresh mint, chocolate, mint chocolate chip, peanut butter and chocolate, mixed fruit, roasted banana, chocolate banana, and chocolate chip ice cream. I am looking forward to making my own ice cream sandwiches, and pumpkin, ginger, and strawberry apple ice cream.


  • All ice cream comes out soft serve, even what you buy in the store. Putting it in the freezer before you eat it will harden it up.
  • When you harden the ice cream in the freezer many times it comes out icy. I kind of like the icy taste for fruit ice creams, but for chocolate I do not. Recipes that have you make a custard with a minimum of 5 egg yolks makes for the creamiest and least icy ice cream.
  • Chilling the mixture in the fridge for at least a few hours, preferably over night, before you churn it, will help make stiffer ice cream.
  • Keeping the ice cream in the ice cream maker longer also makes for stiffer and creamier ice cream. I keep it in till the ice cream starts climbing up the paddles and is fluffy not runny.
  • Filling the ice cream maker no more than half way allows for more air to be whipped into it and also makes for a creamier, more scoopable, less icy ice cream.
  • The Ben & Jerry's ice cream recipe's have you use raw eggs. Catching Salmonella from raw eggs is really quite rare and eating raw eggs doesn't bother me, but it does bother some people. If you don't want raw eggs, you can make a custard first, but raw egg recipes are a lot easier to make. The Perfect Scoop describes how to make a custard very well. I could not taste the difference between using raw eggs, or making a custard when only using two eggs. I have not tried using a 5 egg recipe with raw eggs.
  • To chop chocolate or to make chocolate chips you can put a chocolate bar in the freezer and then grate the chocolate with a cheese grater.
I am working on the perfect chocolate ice cream recipe. The problem is the more chocolate ice cream I eat, my idea of perfect changes, but I will share what I have so far soon.

Monday, September 28, 2009

She Doesn't Stay Where I Put Her

Allie is 4 months old and is very proficient at rolling both tummy to back and back to tummy so if I put her down she doesn't stay in the same spot. She is starting to show an interest in everything --including food, but I'm making her wait for that. When something looks interesting she will reach out her hands and lunge for it, and if you give it to her she manipulates it in her hands and then tries to put it in her mouth. She loves to talk and is always saying a lot. I feel bad because I can't always stop and listen to what she has to say. She can sit up and stay balanced for a few seconds. She is tall and lean. She has grown out of most of her 6 month clothes and is into 9 month. It is weird because I am putting outfits on her that Selena wore when she was walking. I think she might be teething because she is very drooly and her favorite thing to do is gnaw on your hand. She loves her family and is always giving big smiles to everyone, and if you are lucky some giggles. She'll give you good giggles when playing peek-a-boo and if you tickle her armpits. She tolerates her sister holding her, cuddling her, dressing her (note the large shoes in the picture) and occasionally bopping her on the head pretty well.

She is pretty cuddly and she smells so good. She didn't really have the baby smell when she was a newborn, but now she does and it is so delicious. I love breathing in her baby breath and getting baby "kisses" all over my face. I call her babylicious. I'm sad that these baby moments are for such a short amount of time.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hypnobabies Birth Video

So I was having a hard time whether I wanted to share a video of Allie's birth or not. But I figured this one is pretty modest, and I finally figured out how to use my editing software to make it even more modest. I like Hypnobabies so much that I want to share and show how well it works. In the birth stories I wrote it is easy to focus on the intensity and hard parts but really the majority of the time I was very relaxed and happy. I used the Hypnobabies Home Study Course for Expectant Mothers for the birth of both of my children (see their birth stories here). In the video below I am about 9cm dilated and having a contraction/pressure wave. It really is pretty boring. I'm pretty much just sitting in a tub. I am listening to one of the hypnosis scripts and probably just saying the word "peace" in my head. I remember in the car on my way to the birth center the script was saying that all I was feeling was pressure and tightening and thinking, "Really you call that just pressure and tightening, it feels like a bit more than that to me?", and then when I got in the tub and was able to completely relax I thought, "Hey it really is just pressure and tightening. How cool is that." Between contractions I was able to chat with my mom and midwife.

I first avoided hypnosis as a childbirth tool because I thought it was too hokey and new age, but I came across some reviews on Amazon for some HypnoBirthing programs and they seemed really positive, so I bought Marie Mongan's book HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method: A natural approach to a safe, easier, more comfortable birthing and read it, and listened to the sample track that were provided with the CD that came with the book. After reading the book I realized that self hypnosis wasn't really that kooky. It was simply visualization and conditioning your body to react, in this case relax, on special cues, both things I had done in college for x-country and track. It also seemed that something I used for athletic competition would work for childbirth since it is an endurance event as well. After further research I found out that there are a few different hypnosis for childbirth programs and the consensus online seemed to be that Hypnobabies was the most complete program and worked the best. (Here is a great link on the comparison of HypnoBirthing and Hypnobabies.) So I ordered the home study and started listening to the scripts. I admit that the first script I listened to was pretty corny and I started having doubts. But I continued doing the practices and listening to the scripts and the rest of them were very relaxing, and worked very well at helping me not be scared about birth, and preparing myself to give birth. I did not take any other childbirth class. The Hypnobabies course is very complete and really has everything you need to know. My one complaint with it is that it recommends the Brewer diet (massive amounts of protein) and from what I've read, most childbirth professionals agree that the Brewer diet is too extreme, but if you ignore that the program is great.

My experience was that it made both of my children's births almost painless. They were not easy, but I can't relate with comments about birth being the most painful thing ever experienced, or when someone talks about early labor being painful. I can relate to talk about being completely exhausted. I think Hypnobabies is an excellent way to prepare for childbirth. Even if you want an epidural, things don't always go as planned, so having extra tools available is great, and it may even surprise you how well it works. It is also still useful. I use the techniques when I am tired and want to relax, or when I am not feeling well.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

2 1/2 years

Half birthdays seem to be more of a milestone to me than real birthdays. Maybe because now I think of her as being closer to three than two, so by the time she turns three I am used to the idea.

So in an attempt to shorten the amount of time it takes me to get her to bed I had been telling Selena that two and a half year old's go to sleep by themselves. We started talking about this about two months ago and she seemed fine with it. But when it was bedtime on her half birthday, and I was going to leave her in her room by herself, she started saying that two-and-a-half year old big girls were scared and that when she grew bigger and bigger and bigger and was three, THEN she could go to sleep by herself. She was getting a little panicky, and she was very convincing. So I still lie next to her at night. She has pretty much stopped napping. Maybe once a week she'll take a nap, so she is falling asleep a bit quicker. Half an hour after the lights go out, versus an hour or more. She still has some days that she takes an hour to fall asleep and it drives me nuts especially because she has started biting her nails.

We went to the Mariner's game a couple weeks ago which was quite an adventure with the two girls. We had fancy seats in a restricted area, but we didn't use them much as we were out and about with the girls. We took Selena to the playground and she got so excited. We were walking there and Selena was saying, "There is a playground at the Mariner's game? Dad, there is a playground at the Mariner's game! The playground is my favorite." When we got there it was very crowded and lots of the kids were a bit older and pretty rowdy, but Selena jumped right in and started climbing around. When she finally came out she seemed a bit overwhelmed, so she sat with me for a while. When it seemed like a bunch of kids left I asked if she wanted to try again. She is pretty small so she had a hard time climbing up one of the parts to the slide, so we would have to reach in and help her. Then she would slide down the slide and then run back to the entrance yelling "Go away big kids, go away!"

So another question I have is, can Selena read my mind? I came across a thread on a mommy message board about two year old's seemingly reading there parent's minds. There have been a few times when I have thought this might have happened but I dismissed it as coincidence. So I decided to pay more attention next time it happened. So I was putting Selena to bed and she was playing with a stuffed pelican but was calling it a duck. She asked me what it ate, but because she was supposed to be going to sleep I didn't answer, but in my head I was thinking fish. All of a sudden she says, "Fred eats fish." So I was kind of weirded out because she thought he was a duck and I don't think ducks eat fish. The next morning I realized that Fred has fish embroidered on the inside of his mouth. :) So there was a rational explanation. But tonight I was putting her to bed and thinking how she was growing up and looking more like me and how cute it was that she was getting freckles. She had been jabbering about something and all of a sudden she said, "I have freckles and I'm going to scrub them and scrub them. When I get bigger and bigger I get freckles. " Kinda weird.

Another cute story is we were headed to the playground and I had her and Allie loaded in the stroller when I realized I forgot my keys. So I buckle Selena in so she won't run away and run into the house to get my keys, but I could't find them. I remembered that Selena had been playing with them the night before. So I go outside and before I even said a word she says, "They are in my closet." She knew as soon as I left to go inside to get them that I wouldn't find them because she had left them in the toy closet the night before. Allie had also been fussy when I put her in the stroller and she was holding her hand and had comforted her. So cute!

She loves to ride in the stroller. I have been trying to walk to places that are within walking distance rather than drive. Selena has been very good at helping me keep this goal. She now insists that we walk to the library and the farmer's market instead of drive. She even uses the argument that Allie doesn't like the car to convince me, but sometimes she is less cute and whines and cries.

Potty training is also going really well at the moment. In the last four days she has only had one accident and she was sick yesterday (she had a fever and threw up, so sad) so she had a pretty good excuse.