Monday, October 31, 2011

we've had 84 trick-or-treaters... and counting.

last year, when i was living in north portland on a street packed with bars and restaurants and concert venuesi didn't think twice about handing out candy on halloween. instead i was at the bars in hot-pink spandex pants and a curly pig tail secured to my bum. (my girlfriend and i went as winnie the pooh and piglet.)

this year? it's a very different story, because i live in the heart of suburbia. 

about thirty minutes ago, after a couple hours of steady traffic, our doorbell rang for the last time. jeff and i kept trackwe had 84 trick-or-treaters! i answered the door only a few times (because this year not only am i too tired to go out, i'm too tired to get my pregnant belly off the couch every few minutes!). each time the doorbell rang and the kids on the other side of the glass shouted "trick or treat," jeff chuckled and said "happy halloween" in return. he handed them pieces of candy while the smallest children cooed at freddie, our black cat. they called freddie a "halloween kitty." it was the cutest. 

here we are with jeff's little brother at the pumpkin patch, getting into the halloween spirit...

Friday, October 21, 2011

my baby shower

last weekend, three of my best girlfriends threw me the best baby shower i’ve ever had. (it’s the only baby shower i’ve ever had, but still. it was the best!) we played games, ate homemade red velvet cake, sipped white wine—well, not all of us sipped white wine—and caught up on each other’s busy lives. one of my friends brought her five-week-old baby girl, so i got some good practice holding and rocking her. (note to self: lift weights and get buff before baby arrives. babies are hea-vy.)

we played the guess-which-type-of-chocolate-is-melted-in-the-diaper game, when everyone takes turns observing, sniffing and even nibbling the poopy-looking chocolate in the diapers to determine what it is. ew! we also played guess-how-big-mama’s-tummy-is. almost everyone guessed too big.

baby-to-be got a hot-pink tutu (so stinkin’ cute!), a winnie the pooh bathrobe and slippers, a ton of onesies, some extra-soft blankets and rattles, ruffly socks, a pink nike hoodie-and-pant set, a plaid christmas dress, a juicy couture suit, a sophie the giraffe teether, and so much more! i can’t wait to see her in all of her new adorable outfits.

thank you monica, emily and alexa for throwing such a wonderful shower. and thank you, liz, for these beautiful photos!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

week 30

this week, baby is the size of a squash! her skin is getting smoother, her brain is getting more wrinkled (to make room for all of that essential brain tissue), and she's strong enough to grasp a finger.

Monday, October 17, 2011

sure, i can eat 24 cupcakes.

today, portland was absolutely beautiful. i'm talking red and orange leaves against a bright blue backdrop. cool air. distant sunshine. (just what i want for my wedding day, in fact.) it was the kind of day that reminds me of high school football games and pep rallies, of carefree teenagedom.

and it was monday. 

(i'm never in this great a mood on a monday.)

my rare, early-in-the-week spunk (and perhaps the pregnancy hormones) prompted my decision to bake two dozen pumpkin spice latte cupcakes from scratch this evening. (i may be eating for two, but jeff and i most certainly can't finish twenty-four cupcakes ourselves.) (not sure what i was thinking.)

even though we just ate ourselves sick, i still think these things are delicious! you gotta try them. just remember to cut the recipe in half unless you have an extremely large family or are planning to take most of the cupcakes to the office, to share with your coworkers. oh! and borrow an electric mixer if you don't have one. turning milk and sugar into whipped cream using a "manual" whisk is a slow, painful process. (yes, i just learned this the hard way.)

here's the recipe, courtesy of annie's eats:
 For the cupcakes:
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. espresso powder
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. salt
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup canola or vegetable oil
4 large eggs
½ cup coffee or espresso, for brushing
For the whipped cream:
2¼ cups heavy cream, chilled
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar

For garnish:
Ground cinnamon
Caramel sauce

To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350°F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt.  Stir together and set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend together the pumpkin, granulated sugar, brown sugar and oil. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  With the mixture on low speed, add the flour mixture in two additions, mixing just until incorporated.

Fill the cupcake liners about three-quarters full.  Bake until the cupcakes are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 18-20 minutes.  Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes, then remove the cupcakes from the pans.  While the cupcakes are still warm, brush them two or three times with the coffee or espresso, allowing the first coat to soak in before repeating.  Let cool completely.

To make the frosting, place the heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Whip on medium-low speed at first, gradually increasing to high speed.  Blend in the confectioners’ sugar gradually.  Whip until stiff peaks form, being careful not to over-beat.  Use a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip to frost the cooled cupcakes.  Sprinkle with ground cinnamon and drizzle with caramel sauce.  Store in an airtight container and refrigerate.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

baby's lullaby

we read that parents should sing to their unborn babies. one study proves that after a baby is born, she can recognize the lullaby she heard in the wombeven though it sounds much sharper than the gurgled, muffled version she's used to. the study suggests the special song can even calm a newborn down in the most stressful situations (like surgery). 

so jeff and i decided on a song to sing to our baby-to-be a couple times a week. and this is jeff singing it...

it's been a long day, baby
things ain't been going my way
and now i need you here
to clear my mind all the time

and baby
the way you move me, it's crazy
it's like you see right through me
and make it easier
believe me, you don't even have to try

oh, because
you are the best thing
you are the best thing
you are the best thing
that's ever happened to me

we've come a long way
and baby
you know i hope and i pray 
that you believe me
when i say this love will never fade away

oh, because
you are the best thing
you are the best thing
you are the best thing
ever happened to me

Monday, October 10, 2011

a little visit with our neighbor up north: seattle

Some weekends I want to explore, experience new things. (There’s only so much one can do in Portland, after all.) So on Friday, Jeff and I (and baby!) drove to Seattle with our friends Alexa and Victor for a weekend of spontaneity and adventure. My cousin owns a condo in the city and offered us the building’s guest apartment: a stuffy room on the first floor with one window and a view of the sidewalk. Charming in its own way. The four of us slept there on Friday and Saturday night.

To our surprise, we woke up on Saturday morning to a blue sky and clean, cool air. The sun danced between the clouds. I was relieved to have brought my sunglasses, which I assumed I wouldn’t need in the notoriously rainy and cloudy city. My cousin and her boyfriend—and the rest of the locals, I noticed—seemed impressed with the early-autumn weather.

After breakfast the six of us wandered through Pike Place Market, the guys in their waterproof jackets and I in my rubber Hunter boots, certain that rainfall was imminent. (It wasn’t.) Jeff and I bought magnets for the collection on our fridge—we get them from every city we vacation in—and sugary donut holes for the group. Then we walked to the gum wall and added our chewed gum to the repulsive assortment of sticky, rainbow-colored pieces, which covered an entire brick wall outside a theater. It was nauseating, yet fascinating. We took a ferry to Bainbridge Island and back. We ordered pumpkin spice lattes from the very first Starbucks. We drove to a park with the most picturesque view of any West Coast city I’ve been to. But the best part was my dinner: creamy clam chowder, cod and cooked-to-perfection crab. (Not only delicious but also high-quality brain food for baby!)

Here’s the story again, in photos: