Pie Making

There is a really hot girl in some pie making videos over on petit elefant today...

My Big Cheat

I am pretty sure that everyone out there reading my blog thinks that I'm perfect, and they would not be far off. But today, I'd like to talk about a moment when I was not perfect. I cheated.

Last night, Murray and I went out for our date night dinner. With gestational diabetes, finding restaurants is not always the easiest thing. I mean, you can pretty much rule out any Italian place, for starters. So we've even opted to eat in for a few of our date nights. But last night I wanted to try Spark, a new restaurant/lounge that I've seen downtown Provo. When I first saw it, I was a little hesitant to try it because although it looked hip and cool from the outside, the sign said, "Restaurant/Lounge" and I haven't been to a lounge before and I really didn't know what to expect. But recently a friend recommended the restaurant to us, so we decided to go.

Stepping into Spark feels a little like stepping out of Provo. In a really good way. Although we showed up at prime time on a Friday night, we were seated immediately. (This is something that I would like to see change since it makes me scared that now we've discovered this place, not enough people will be enjoying it to keep it in business.)

Our hostess who seated us explained the menu a little. They offer "small plates" or appetizers and she recommended ordering three or four small plates as the ideal way to dine there. Then she directed our attention to the bar menu, which I didn't pay much attention to because 1) alcohol and 2) fruit juice (forbidden to me while gestating). When our waitress came by shortly afterward, she said, "I'm sure that our hostess explained our non-alcoholic bar to you." Suddenly that menu became much more interesting to me. The drinks look really delicious and creative and I am excited to go back after the baby comes and try something out. She told us that the Shirley Temple comes topped with cotton candy, which I thought was a little bizarre until I actually saw someone's. Then I wanted one immediately. BUT this isn't where I cheat. So rest assured, I'm still waiting a while to try their drink menu.

Murray and I ordered some fries with aioli garlic dip, braised beef with cabbage, and crispy pork on polenta. Since I had no idea how many carbs to expect with this combination, I told Murray that we might even consider dessert (so that I could have one bite) depending on how the food was prepared.

The presentation of the food was fabulous. We were served our fries first. They were very thin, shoe-string fries cooked to perfection. While we were eating the fries, a waitress brought out a taste from the kitchen---an apple cream soup---for us to try out. What a taste experience! Our soup came in tiny pots with tiny spoons. And it tasted like creamy apple bacon. Soooooo good and such a pleasant surprise from the kitchen! Next came our braised beef and cabbage and our crispy pork on polenta. The braised beef and cabbage may not have seemed as gourmet to me because it was a lot like cabbage rolls that I had regularly while growing up because of Eastern European immigrants to Canada. But it was certainly delicious. (I've never been known to say no to a cabbage roll!) The crispy pork on polenta was definitely my favorite. It was topped with perfectly sweet grapefruit.

The portions were small, which is the sort of thing that you respect about a place like this. It means that you can enjoy the food experience without feeling stuffed and overdone. It also means that there's room for dessert.

And this is where the cheating comes in. On the menu was fried chocolate pudding. And darn it, I have been wanting a real dessert for what seems like an eternity now. And this sounded too good to pass up. Small portions of chocolate pudding are coated in an almond flour and then briefly fried to crisp the shell. It is served with orange ice cream to complement the chocolate.

And here is my paragraph of justification: My doctor said she was part of a control group for gestational diabetes where she didn't have it, but she had to test her blood at certain times during the day. One day, she ate a lot of carbs without really realizing it and when she tested her blood, it was in the 160s. I'm never allowed to go over 130, and I typically don't (when I do, it's never even as high as 140). So I figured that if, like my doctor, I didn't have GDS, sometimes my blood sugar would naturally be higher because of the food choices that I make, then with GDS, it wouldn't hurt to go over just once. And later, my sister-in-law pointed out that when women don't manage their GDS properly, they get put on insulin, but it takes a couple of weeks of improperly eating before they're switched to insulin. Anyway, at the restaurant, I also reasoned that exercise is like a shot of insulin, so Murray and I could go swimming in our club house pool after dinner so that I could help my insulin deliver the glucose to my cells.

Okay. Justification done. Now let's move on to gratification. This dessert was AMAZING. "Pudding" does not describe what was in these crispy almond-flour shells. It's more like a rich chocolate not unlike pots de creme (which my mom would make growing up and it still seems gourmet... except for when we'd bastardize it by eating it with marshmallow peeps and call it pots de peep...). The ice cream (which Murray expected to be a bright orange sherbet and wasn't very excited about it) was a perfectly creamy orange. The whole experience was wonderful---so wonderful! Of course, the problem was that there were three little puddings and only two of us. But then Murray said that if I wanted to have a second one, I could have it all to myself. And then I almost broke down in tears in the middle of the restaurant.

I highly recommend this restaurant to anyone in the area. It was a fun experience and we'll definitely be going back. The prices were extremely reasonable (our bill came to $28, which is what we paid recently for a meal at Bajio) and the experience is far beyond run-of-the-mill Utah dining.

(And in case you're still wondering about my blood sugar... we got home and got our bathing suits on and headed over to the clubhouse, only to discover that the entire pool had been taken over by a singles ward activity where they were playing an organized sport, so slipping into the pool would have been like stepping onto a basketball court during someone else's game. I am not allowed to do hot tubs as a pregnant woman, lest I cook my fetus. So basically Murray and I dangled our legs in the hot tub for 40 minutes, hoping that the awful singles activity would eventually end, and dodging the football whenever it came hurling at our faces. But I kicked my legs for all of those 40 minutes. It ultimately didn't help too much. My blood sugar was 160. Little baby Leland, I'm very sorry for any fat cells that you might have put on due to my indulgence. And a note to the singles who monopolized the pool even though they don't pay for it and we do: When Murray and I went home, we *****[censored]*****. So there.)

What's this? What's this?

There seems to be a free advent calendar download over on Petit Elefant today and I can truly say that it's the coolest advent calendar that I could possibly conceive! Look! I have one, too!

Big Head and a Mullet

So we've found a name for our baby, but today I'm considering changing it. Is there any name that means "big head and a mullet"?

Today Murray and I went in for a bonus ultrasound. Yay for gestational diabetes! This ultrasound was different from our first one. First of all, the technician was not white trash. Second of all, we saw a lot more of our baby. Like his little lips and the sucking motions he was making. Precious! And third of all, a doctor came in to perform part of the ultrasound, too. So since we've always said that if anyone would mess up the gender of our baby, it would be our first technician, we asked the doctor if he could confirm the sex of our baby. He said that making a mistake was always a possibility. But then he added, "But if this isn't a boy, I'd have a really hard time explaining what I'm seeing here." Phew! I've had nightmares of having a baby girl after buying all the baby boy stuff!

Anyway, the whole point of the ultrasound was to see how the baby is doing with me having gestational diabetes and all. The good news is that he is right on track! Oh, and he weighs 5 lbs 1 oz. And the doctor said that I'd need no additional tests for my pregnancy and I can proceed as if this is a normal pregnancy, as long as my blood sugar numbers are in check. Yay!

Now, here's what we did learn that is really really interesting. But first you need a little background on something that Murray is a little self-conscious about. That is, his head size. I am a hat person and look forward to wearing hats in the fall and winter. This doesn't mean that I need my husband to be a hat person, too. Murray is, in fact, not a hat person. This is due to the fact that many hats simply don't fit his cranium. Poor Murray. He's just a little self-conscious about it, and even last night as we were going through boxes of old stuff to clean out before the baby comes, he showed me a hat that he spent $30 just because it actually is one of the few that properly fits his head. So the point is, just know that this hat thing is kindof a thing that Murray already feels is a short coming. (But it totally shouldn't be something that he worries about.)

So back to the ultrasound room. Our wt ultrasound technician had told us back at 20 weeks that our baby was measuring a week big. Today's ultrasound technician said the same thing. But then the doctor who was following up with us explained that the only reason our baby is measuring a week big is that his head is large. Then he explained that some people simply have larger heads, and this means that they have superior intelligence (that part was a joke), and it also means that it is very difficult for these people to find hats that fit. And that is not a problem at all, it just means that the head is larger and you need to find a larger hat, and it doesn't mean that there is anything wrong with your head. At this point, the ultrasound screen started shaking because I couldn't control my laughter. I said, "He gets it from his father." (On our way out of the hospital, Murray caught his reflection and started looking at his head again: "Are you sure that my head isn't disproportionately large? Does it look okay?")

In addition to baby's big head, we also found out that baby has a really healthy mullet. Hair shows up on the ultrasound as bright light, and apparently it grows on the back of the head first. There was LOTS of bright light on the back of our baby's head and the technician said that his hair is pretty long.

So yay! Baby has a big head and a mullet! Maybe Murray should go out and buy him a shotgun after all...

Help Blossoming

(My dad's the one in the middle.)

I usually try to get my most classic life stories on this blog not only so that you all can enjoy them, but so that they're recorded for posterity. Last night, I referenced this one story to Murray, only to find out that 1) I had never actually told Murray this story and 2) I had never actually blogged about this story, either. Both of these things baffle me, because this is among my most prized life stories ever.

In my family, we have a Christmas tradition of gifts of love. Each year, the family home evening before Christmas, we get together and think of one gift of love that we will give to each family member. We then write these down on slips of paper and put the slips of paper into small baggies labeled with each family member's name. Gifts of love are non-material gifts, often service-oriented, that we can give to our family members during the next year. On Christmas Eve, we gather together and open our gifts of love, reading to the family the gifts that we've received from each family member. Often these are pretty funny moments. Like the year that Dad managed to give everyone the same gift: Sage Wisdom and Advice. Or maybe that was Grandpa. That's a copout if I've ever seen one. Almost as much as a copout as The Boy's gifts of love when he was younger and would insert the word "try" into every gift of love. So the year when his gift of love to me was "try not to annoy you," any time he was annoying, I would remind him that his gift of love was to not annoy me and he'd tell me, "I said I would try not to annoy you." Anyway. I think you get the picture. Non-material gifts. It's a great tradition.

Well, the Christmas of my freshman year of college, I got a very interesting gift from my dad. I was 19 years old. I opened up the slip of paper and read it to the family. It said, "Help blossoming."

I asked my dad, "Have I not blossomed yet?"

He said, "Well, you know. You're a little frumpy."

(I must insert a note here to let you know that I have a wonderfully supportive father and that he gets away with saying stuff like this because 1) he's really funny when he says it, 2) he says it in a way that you could never be offended anyway, and 3) he knows that I'm pretty resilient to his teasing.)

In these days, my parents still lived in Canada, so after our Christmas together, we all had to drive down to Toronto so that we could get back on the plane and fly back to school in Utah. We spent a few days in Toronto that year, and one day was spent at a very large mall, taking advantage of the unique shopping that Toronto offers (lots of cool Canadian stores that we don't have in the States). At the mall, my dad announced to me that at some point during the day, he'd like some time with me to make good on his gift of love to me and take me to some stores to show me clothing that would help me to blossom.

My brilliant idea was to have him take me to Ann Taylor, because surely we'd both find something classy there that we both liked. And then maybe he'd like it so much that he'd even buy it for me, and I'd score some nice clothes that I'd never be able to afford myself.

When it was time to meet up with my dad, we looked at the store directory and there was no Ann Taylor. And I had no backup plan. So Dad said, "Well, what about the Gap? Isn't the Gap cool? People still shop at the Gap, right?" My spirits were once again lifted because I was confident that the Gap would, in fact, be full of pretty decent clothes.

Once there, Dad said that we should find the kakhis section. Still, I didn't think this was so bad. We found the kakhis section and I found that their selection was to my tastes. They had low-cut, flat-front, boot-cut kakhis. Surely we'd be able to agree on a suitable pair. But when I looked over at Dad, I saw he was shaking his head. "No. This isn't what I'm looking for," he said. "Let's go over to the men's section."

And that was pretty much the point at which I realized that we weren't going to find anything we agreed on.

In the men's section, my dad found a few pairs of high-waisted, pleated, tapered kakhis. I was shocked that the Gap still sold stuff like that! Here, Dad started nodding his head in approval and quickly found a great pair that suited his tastes. They probably had the highest waist, the pleatedest pleats and the taperedest taper of the whole store.

This was the Christmas season, you know, so the change room was pretty busy. I went into my stall, eager to prove to my dad that this kind of pant was the most unflattering thing I could possibly wear. I put them on and the waist came about two inches below my boobs. The bottoms of my pants all but fit right into the shoes that I was wearing. And the pleats! Oh, the pleats! They magnified what is undoubtedly one of my biggest trouble areas.

Luckily, I was wearing a thick sweater and a collared shirt that I could pull over the most offensive parts of the pants. Still, I looked like a shapeless blob with no self respect. I shuffled out of the stall, knowing that of course Dad would see me and recognize his error. Instead, Dad immediately told me, "Now that is what I mean. That looks so much better. That is very classic." People in the dressing room area started looking over at us and staring.

Just when I thought that it couldn't get any worse, Dad said, "Now. Tuck in your sweater."

Under the scrutiny of the whole dressing room, I obeyed my father and tucked in my thick sweater and shirt. Now instead of looking like a shapeless blob, I looked much, much worse. I looked like a snowman made of three distinctly round balls. The ample pleats with tucked in sweater easily added about 30 pounds. And above the belt, the bulky sweater with my large bust had now made my whole upper body into one enormous set of boobs. And as Dad told me how nice that looked, and explained that I didn't have to dress this way, but it was good for me to see that this is how I would look best, I heard several discreet snickers from our audience.

In the end, we agreed to disagree. And to this day, though I still may be sometimes a little unblossomed in my dad's eyes, I'm pretty comfortable with the clothing choices that I make.

My brain is vacant.

I really believe that I haven't had many "pregnant brain" moments. For the most part, my faculties are completely intact. I've had other amusing moments of course. Like this morning, when Murray and I left for our doctor's appointment. Because I have to have my meals, I made a breakfast to go. Let's face it---I made the same breakfast that Murray and I eat every single morning. We each got a whole wheat Ego waffle with peanut butter on it, and Murray got a milk and I got a yogurt. And then we were getting into separate cars so that after the appointment he could go straight to work and I could go straight home. But the door of the car hit my hand that was carrying the waffle and I dropped my 1/3-eaten waffle on the ground. And I started laughing, but it really put me in a predicament. I need to eat certain things at certain times. And 1/3 of a waffle with peanut butter wasn't going to satisfy my nutritional needs. So Murray rushed over and offered me his waffle. I made sure that he ate 1/3 of it before he gave it to me. And then I took it. And that proves that Murray loves me.

But that is not my pregnant moment. It has nothing to do with brain power. Get ready for this. It's one of the most stupid moments of my entire life.

So my mom wanted me to call her after the doctor's appointment so that I could tell her whether or not I get an extra ultrasound during my pregnancy. (Good news! Because of my gestational diabetes, I DO get an extra ultrasound---are you all jealous yet?) So as soon as I left the doctor's office, I called her. Then we chatted all the way home. And then, as I was entering my house, I started to wonder where my phone was. As I continued to chat with my mom about church, about primary, and so on, I searched my purse. I checked every single pocket twice. I checked all the pockets in my clothing. No phone. I looked to see if I'd been wearing a coat. Nope. I started to mentally scan my visit with the doctor to see where I might have left my phone, and made a mental note to myself that as soon as I got off the phone with my mom, I'd have to call the doctor's to see if they'd seen my phone. (This is no exaggeration at all. I actually thought that.) I thought about what Murray and I had used our phones for at the doctor's office. I had looked up Carla Bruni on my phone because I was shocked to find out she was married to Nicolas Sarkozy. Murray looked up "died" because he remembered that someone famous died today or yesterday and couldn't remember who it was. (Turns out it was Michael Crichton---did you know??) I tried to remember if I'd given my phone to Murray when the doctor walked in...

...and then something clicked and I realized.

I was talking on the phone.

This, people, goes way beyond looking for your sunglasses when they're on your head. This was, perhaps, the stupidest moment of my life.

I was a freak.

Here's a picture of me in grade ten.

I realized today that back then, I was a freak. Why? Because I liked the winter for its short days!

Today is a rather grey day. I went downstairs to get my lunch, and it was pretty dark down there. I thought that I could open up the blinds, but then I thought, "What's the point?" Because I'm just going to be in my office upstairs all day (where the blinds are open) and by the time I go downstairs again, it will be dark again.

Why does the world have to be like this? Why does my daylight have to be so limited?? I can't even remember any good reason for me to get excited about more dark when I was in high school. Closet goth? Maybe. All I know is that for the next several months, it's going to be dark before I finish my workday every day. Ugh.

So I guess it's time for me to talk to Murray about my master plan to buy a summer house in Alaska and a winter home in southern Chile. Yay!

Happy Anniversary!

This week Murray and I celebrated our first anniversary. We both took the day off work and spent the day celebrating our love for one another with various and random activities.

* We went to IHOP for breakfast. I ordered the 2x2x2 (two eggs, two sausage links, two pancakes) although I was only allowed to eat 1x1x1. It was an enjoyable breakfast.

* Then we went up to SLC to go to the Tracy Aviary. Fall is my favorite season and Monday was the most beautiful fall day. You could smell the trees in the air. The temperature was absolutely perfect. And so Murray and I enjoyed a good walk around the aviary, checking out the birds. I think that my favorite part was when we found a little burrowing owl in its home. I guess its home looked kindof like a little stage anyway, and Murray and I stood outside and enjoyed the fact that the owl was looking at us. And then we began competing for its attention. We were both dancing, making faces, and making noises to see who the owl would look at the most. He just pivoted his little owl head back and forth between the two of us the whole time. I figure he's got it pretty good. We had to walk around the aviary to see all the different species. He just gets to sit still in his home and all the crazy types of humans come and parade themselves in front of him.

* We had lunch at Tucanos at the Gateway. That is a very carb-friendly restaurant, although I almost cried when I had to pass up the grilled pineapple (my favorite) and the deep-fried bananas. Two more months... two more months...

* I had planned a stop at Ben's Cookies, which is a store I only go to in the fall because of their seasonal pumpkin chocolate cookie which is comparable to no other food in the world. Do not even THINK about the generic grocery store pumpkin chocolate chip cookies right now, because that is SO not what this wonderful cookie is. I had budgeted so that I could have half of one of these suckers and save the other half for another day. So we went in and found out that they no longer make them AT ALL because apparently they were too expensive to make. I officially hate Ben's Cookies now. How could they do that to me?

* We drove back to Provo and went to a matinee showing of The Changeling. Is it just me, or does that sound like a horror movie? Anyway. I guess it is a type of horror movie, especially for a woman like me who's about to have a baby. (It's about a woman whose son goes missing and five months later the police return a boy to her who is not her son and close the case, even though she wants to keep fighting to get her real son back.) It was an excellent movie.

* We went to Bombay House, which is where we met, and enjoyed a dinner that was not quite what we had there the first time. When the diabetes goes away, I can enjoy my chicken coconut kurma and mango lassi again!

* For our evening entertainment we went to our prenatal class where we got to learn all about labor and delivery. And we saw a birthing videos that showed four different births. I wasn't actually nervous about the delivery before I saw the video. Now... Anyway. What cracks me up about the movie is that it's a BYU production and, like, you could TOTALLY KNOW whose birth you're watching. Needless to say, I'm not going to sign up to have my birthing experience documented and show the entire world my stretch marks and private areas. I mean, seriously. After the birthing videos, we had a tour of the facilities. We're pretty excited.

* At home again, we opened our gifts to each other. Murray really outdid himself this year. This is our "paper" anniversary, and a couple artists couldn't ask for anything better. Murray did a mixed media classic painting of me in kindof a Marie Antoinette sort of era. He was inspired by a picture from our vacation this summer where I accidentally was striking a classic pose. It's so freaking cool. And in addition to that, he also painted me an enlargement of a postcard that I'd gotten in Italy and that I've always loved but that I've always wanted to be bigger! (AND he got classic toys for our baby AND he got me a book from my childhood that we'd talked about recently.) I made him a commemorative poster of our wedding day, but I'll have to wait to take a picture of it and get it up on the blog because I ran into some assembly difficulties.

All in all, it was a perfect way to celebrate our perfect day last year! This year has been great and I'm lucky to be married to Murray. I think that the best way to celebrate our anniversary is to spend the whole day together because that's what I want to do every day anyway!

Reflections on Halloween

On Halloween, Murray and I had Murray's brother and wife come over for dinner and an outdoor movie. We couldn't have asked for better weather for our movie (Psycho, a great Halloween movie), except for when it started to rain a little bit. Oh well. Other than the rain it really was ideal.

I wanted to spend the evening at home so that I could give candy (that I can't eat, because I'm just. that. selfless.) to children. A neighbor said that they didn't get many kids last year, so I didn't plan for very many kids, and I certainly didn't want to have leftover candy. When I was candy shopping, I considered my candy choices carefully. I know what I'd want to receive as a kid. There's no use wasting money on the candy that is just going to be thrown away. I briefly considered buying small packs of Doritos, because then I wouldn't even care to give them away because Doritos to me are just a sack of disgustingness. But then my conscience wouldn't let me give something to kids that I would have been so wholly disappointed to receive as a child. So instead, I got a couple bags of mini candy bars, a bag of full Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, a couple bags of Pop Rocks (to mix things up a little), and a bag of gummy Life Savers. And I hope those little kids appreciate what it meant for me to give them all of those candies without sampling so much as one myself.

We got more kids than I was expecting, so I went to the pantry to get out the two 10-packs of kettle corn that I accidentally bought, thinking it was the good kind of popcorn. I thought that the popcorn was the crappy treat, but kids responded really well to it, actually.

But this is the ultimate comment I'd like to make about my candy giving experience. Besides the older kids (older than 12ish) who I didn't feel should be trick-or-treating, there were two real standouts of the evening.

FIRST: When I realized I was running low on candy and needed to get the popcorn, I opened a pack thinking that would get me through ten good kids. With an average of 2 kids per door bell ring, I figured the pack would last me a half hour or so. As soon as I opened it, the doorbell rang and a family with five kids was standing outside my door. Good grief! So I started giving them popcorn, which they were REALLY excited about. Most excited was the mother, who started jumping up and down and saying, "Ooo! Yo quiero! Yo quiero!" And then she held out her hand for me to give her her very own package of popcorn. Just that easily, 60 percent of my popcorn package was gone!

SECOND: There was a mom and dad with their first-time trick-or-treater son, who was about 2 or 3. He, of course, had his own bag for the candy. But guess who else had his own bag? The dad. And so he held his bag out, too, to collect candy. There are no words.

So next year, I will be more prepared. Next year, I am going to have special "too old to be trick-or-treating" treats. I'm thinking of the following options: can of peas, fresh apples, not-fresh tomatoes, an entire watermelon. Any other ideas are welcome!!