one month of sweetness

It’s been a wild and wonderful month since we welcomed our daughter, who I’ll refer to as J.C. on here, into this world. I was nearly two weeks past my due date, and under the looming threat of being induced, was going for punishing hikes every single day in an effort to get things moving. So many punishing hikes. I had been going swimming once a week, but was trying too hard and tiring myself out to the point of needing a recovery Whopper with Cheese followed by a three hour nap, so we decided the exercise had to be a bit curtailed in my final days. This included biking, which I just couldn’t bring myself to do much of in the final two weeks of my pregnancy. I was uncomfortable I guess, but there was also loads of rainy weather and I just wasn’t feeling into it.

When I did finally go into labor on the evening of 41 weeks and 3 days, I wanted to celebrate with a little bike ride. I thought this would bookend the pregnancy nicely, as baby had already ridden along for 2000 miles in Europe during the first trimester. You know, 2000 miles on one end, six miles on the other? The perfect bookend? We pedaled around the neighborhood and I simultaneously biked with one hand while timing contractions with my phone in the other, hoping that I didn’t need to brake since my bike only had one hooked up and it was underneath the hand using the phone.

IMG_2243

Biking with my sweetie while in early labor

Back at home I let Eli go to sleep for four hours while the true sufferfest commenced around 11pm. Contractions were regularly 4-5 minutes apart and lasting for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, which seemed promising. Things started to unfortunately slow down after four hours, so we headed to the hospital and arrived there around 4am. After being checked I was pleased to have made it past 5cm dilated while at home, and hoped things would keep moving in a good direction. They didn’t. All morning and well into the afternoon, as the pain became well towards unbearable and I continuously puked my guts out, I only dilated a few more centimeters, with progress coming to a halt around hour 20.

So while I had been so worried about being induced at 42 weeks, I ended up with pitocin at 41 weeks and 4 days 20 hours into active labor. I was so exhausted and dealing with the pain quite poorly, even more so each time the nurse told me to “ride the wave” of a contraction and to “stay on top of it,” all the while I felt like I was drowning in the pain, so given the introduction of pitocin I also asked for an epidural. This wasn’t the route I had hoped to take, but I knew that given a likelihood of a long labor there was the potential for an intervention, and I was happy as long as the end result was a healthy baby and a relatively unharmed me.

A relief from the pain allowed a few hours of rest for both myself and Eli, although my nausea and acid reflux became nearly unbearable at this time and I kept bothering the poor nurse for a fix every hour or so. We continued to chill and they kept upping my dosage of pitocin, letting it work its magic until I felt ready to push. When I gave the green light, it was 9:30pm, and it was only 45 short minutes of pushing until sweet sweetie was born – I feel like it could have been much shorter if only the contractions hadn’t been so widely spaced. There was a bit of concern about her for a few minutes, as she was having some trouble breathing and wasn’t letting out a good cry, but she got there eventually.

After her birth, I mowed down a meal immediately. We snuggled with our girl and moved to the postpartum room. We got some sleep, and the next day we hosted my parents and (sound the trumpets!) ate some sushi that Eli fetched for us. I had been waiting a long time for that magical moment of raw fishy goodness. I was so happy to have Eli by my side for nearly every minute that weekend. Whether he was fetching me jello that he knew I would vomit minutes later, or trying to catch a few winks in some uncomfortable chairs, he was there, and he kept me feeling as level as possible through that long and painful and wonderful day.

IMG_2248SONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSC

It’s been a quick month. I spend almost all of my time staring at my sweet baby in adoration, which has been rewarded with her learning to smile back at us in the past week. She’s pretty easy going, and was treated like a queen last week when Eli’s parents came to visit. She is never far from a loving embrace, and I feel so goddamned lucky to be able to spend my days with her, watching her grow and develop. I haven’t made us dinner once in the past month, I’ve fallen behind on chores, and more importantly on responding to many of the kind people in our lives – I have so many thank you notes to write and it’s stressing me out! – but taking on this blog post is a start. This is only the beginning of a long and wonderful ride… now to just get her back on a bicycle!

We love you so much, sweet sweet baby.

504EAEF2-BEA5-443C-89A0-7E7160F81ECA59042221-BADA-4808-A443-B823209A8620DB4A0B2B-4E2D-48DF-B609-82A6E9C564884A06072D-5616-47CD-B8F8-23F325047D6EA4CD0AAF-8DB4-41AD-8CE1-0187DD9DABC22E0A8CD0-232B-441D-A692-98C2E177A6B445C01EB5-80D0-4847-8532-03F4713BAB46

SONY DSC

Eli and his supporting cast

723CABE9-B319-46C7-A8D7-4D43C92CA1FF48006185-D3AE-4FEE-B1D5-11843FDB024EE35844C0-BE31-4651-A7CE-BDE70414B44C

14734FCA-C81D-4740-B917-94C07B402E22

But mommmmmm

6C7D470C-6467-4A84-B879-99ADCA7F344B

Baby’s first brewery visit

43E9B96B-FAF8-4907-A922-1336BBEA3990SONY DSC052D5238-6C40-4387-A2FC-A947C899F2A8

no-knead swedish tea ring, and arizona

swedish tea ring

So it’s funny. The last recipe that I intended to write about was a cinnamon bun recipe, featuring a coffee glaze. I forgot about it, and it long ago rotted in the hallowed back halls of this blog. I just discovered it today, when I felt a drive to bring you this significant cinnamon bun tea ring featuring a coffee glaze.

What can I say, I’m good with repetitive patterns.

swedish tea ring

Food is great, but let’s quick get to the recipe so that I can tell you about all the things of actual factual importance that I’ve had going on as of late. This dough is kickass because you let it sit around in your fridge while you pet your cat, and dance to pop music with 5-pound weights flailing about, and peer out your window at the frigid temps whilst deciding that today is a good day to stay in your jammies.

No kneading! There’s cardamom in the dough, and a filling of cinnamon, a bit more cardamom, and chopped up almonds. Topping this majesty is a coffee glaze to which I added a bit of espresso powder. The more the merrier says this usually anti-coffee consumer.

Swedish Tea Ring — Vetekrans

Adapted from Beatrice Ojakangas’ The Great Scandinavian Baking Book. Great it is, it is great.

2 packages active dry yeast
1 c. warm water, 105F to 115F
1/2 c. melted butter
1/2 c. sugar
3 slightly beaten eggs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cardamom
4 to 4 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. softened butter
1/2 c. sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom
1 c. almonds, chopped

For the glaze:

1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 tbsp hot coffee
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp espresso powder

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water with a pinch of sugar, let stand 5 minutes. Mix in 1/2 cup melted butter, 1/2 cup sugar, eggs, salt, cardamom, and 4 cups of flour until combined. Cover and stick in the fridge for 2 to 24 hours. Proceed to party.

Turn dough onto floured surface and roll to a 20- to 24-inch square. Spread softened butter across dough. Top with a mix of the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, cinnamon, and cardamom. Sprinkle almonds over sugar. Roll up jelly roll-style.

Grease a baking sheet and place roll on it, shaping into a ring or an oval depending on the size of your pan. Pinch ends together to close circle. With scissors, cut almost through the ring at 1″ intervals. Turn each piece so the cut side is exposed. Let rise until almost doubled.

Heat oven to 375F. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Mix glaze ingredients, top tea right while hot. Serve with coffee because that is what the Goddess Beatrice recommends.

swedish tea ring

So let’s get to the real magic, my life.

After much hesitation and embarrassment surrounding an in-person purchase, I bought One Direction’s first three albums online and have been devouring them nonstop all week. I mean nonstop, too, cause when they’re not on the CD player they’re on in my head. I think it’s a sickness. Like Eli said, it’s too bad I never get sick of the music I listen to – though I normally try to think of this as a gift, I fully understand his position.

one direction
Love the clever pre-teen who pretended to sign the booklet, then added humorous commentary.

Speaking of Eli – we’re engaged! Yeah!!

[oops, hold on, I have to restart my One Direction CD.]

treasure huntringy ring

Eli made a treasure hunt for me in our garage, which ended in a ring hidden in some dirty old sneakers. What a babein’ dude. Treasure hunts and mind games have long been drilled into me as the most enjoyable way to give gifts, so it’s bitchin that he’s not only risen to the occasion, but has also taken it next level. This second picture is more for me than for you, because my ring has been at the jeweler’s in Portland getting LAAASER WELDED for omg two weeks at this point, and I’ve pretty much forgotten what it looks like (pretty!) and feels like (nice!) and sounds like (…silence) and tastes like (love).

Moving on. We spent the holidays in Arizona with my parents, but I made a mess of everything by nearly blinding myself, and spent the remainder of the vacation with my eyes closed, pitifully asking “any food left on my plate?” and sitting around feeling like an invalid, being led from Points A to B, wearing old person sunglasses, pretending my other senses were growing sharper (which they weren’t).

Still, when I had the gift of sight, it was a really beautiful place. Really really beautiful, I can’t stress enough how glad I am that we were able to go. Warm sun, a buttload of cactus, all kinds of purty birds, and tasty Mexican food, plus I got to go biking on my last day which was ironic and cathartic all in one, given that I originally blinded myself while prepping to go biking.

Enjoy a few photos from our trip – again, these are more for me than for you:)

Damn, I miss that sun.

cactuscactuscactuscactuscactusvistacactusfamilypotbikesrock paper scissorsmmmmmvista

(better than the real thing) homemade oreos

Or to be trade markedly correct, I suppose I should say (better than the real thing) Creme Sandwich Cookies.

I’m an Oreo fiend. It’s a perhaps well-kept secret that I can eat at least 2/3rds of a package in one sitting, if given the chance. I am never given the chance, hence it being a secret well-kept. Other grubby-handed people seem to think that they, too, deserve at least a few Oreo cookies. Jerks.

But Oreos are something that I only seem to gain access to at voluntary slavery (community service) events, as I live my life by a moral code that mostly involves avoiding the center aisles of the grocery store where packaged foods are found. In my quest to be an ethically-righteous grocery shopper, I have limited my access to this sinfully yummy cookie.

Luckily, with the gentle prodding of my wonderful mum (who along with my wonderful father just visited me for two weeks), the delight of Oreos was easily recreated in my own home. No preservatives needed! Now, you may be thinking, “Didn’t you make these cookies last year? Right after you finished watching Highlander and were feeling mopey?”

And yes, sure. I made nearly-identical cookies last year. But the filling in these cookies is way tastier, and much more like coughcoughOreoscough. The filling is intoxicatingly good. Plus there’s a whole lot of it. Plus plus, I just started watching Highlander again.

I have many exciting things that I want to share here, but I will save those things for separate posts.

I will say that we spent part of Saturday picking fiddleheads, and we hauled in over ten pounds’ worth. Many of those are cleaned up, a few have been eaten, and some have been ‘dealt with.’ I will write soon about how to pickle fiddleheads.

I will also say that I went for my first mountain bike ride this past weekend. I got awfully tired awfully quickly and learned about how sore hands can be (who knew?), and also learned why I’m glad I purchased a bike helmet. I’ll write more soon about this too, because we built my bike from scratch.

I will finally say how grateful I am that my parents could come and visit us. It was a terrific two weeks, although I brought everybody down by getting sick, and then by getting my parents sick. I’m sorry! Thank you for visiting! I wish it had been warmer and sunnier while you were here!!

Come back and play more cribbage soon, please. We will perhaps eat more owl cake, drink more delicious and beautiful pop (soda?), look confusingly at my Iron Maiden drawings, and marvel at the plants in and around my yard. I love you!

Find the Homemade Oreos (‘Chocolate ‘n’ Cream Sandwich Cookies’) recipe here. It’s a Martha recipe, and I didn’t alter it, so I won’t post it.

Although the cookie component is a bit different, you will never have to buy Oreos again. Honest.