cooking as an afterthought

Last night I was sitting with Ike in our living room in our usual downstairs nursing spot. He had been nursing for just a second when he stopped, looked at me and said, “Noo?” Since we decided to do baby led weaning, we don’t force Ike to eat solids. I fix/offer him multiple meals and snacks in a day and anytime he wants solid food I try to respond quickly. So when he asked for noodles I jumped up and played short order cook. Ike took one bite and then played with the rest and fed some to our dogs.

While Ike entertained himself in the highchair, I cut up broccoli and zucchini so I would have something I could feed him quickly during the week. While those were steaming I decided to cook tofu for myself. I chose coconut oil to fry the Tacoma Tofu in and hoped it would turn out well. I put in about 5 cloves of garlic and then remembered I had carrots and ginger that would make a nice addition. I got the carrots and ginger sliced and added and then realized there was green onion I could add!

Except, I didn’t have green onion after all. What I DID have was baby bok choy. I LOVE baby bok choy and am always trying to get Z to make it for me. I’d never cooked with them before and was afraid I’d ruin them but they needed to be cooked so I decided I’d do my best and eat whatever my results were.

Evidently, it is more successful to have a thought out cooking plan than to cook on a whim. Since I had only thought I was going to fry up tofu, I was using my large cast iron skillet. I put in half of the tofu, the garlic, carrots, and ginger. And then I was out of room. I grabbed a ceramic bowl to place the cooked items so I would have room for the other half of the tofu and the baby bok choy. My very large wok would have been much better to use but there was no way I was going to dirty another large, hand-wash item.

Ike decided he was done in the highchair so I let him down to play. He promptly went to the snack cabinet, grabbed an opened bag of rice puffs and started shaking it as he walked into the kitchen. Rice puffs went everywhere!He then proceeded to play on the floor with a small cast iron skillet, spatula and the rice puffs.

My cast iron stir fry was finally ready. The taste was wonderful even though I overcooked the carrots and the baby bok choy a little. I finished my dinner and got Ike to bed while prayinh that Z wouldn’t get home before I cleaned the rice puffs off the floor. Just in case, I texted a picture of the mess so he could be prepared.


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the 4 month sushi skirt

The first memory I have of sewing was when I was around six years old. It was pair of navy tights with a hole in the toe. I got my mom’s needle and thread, sat on the edge of her bed and repaired away. I’d love to say I was a natural, and while the hole was gone, what was left was a gnarled, knotted mess of navy tights and white thread.

I got better over the years thanks to my mom showing me simple techniques. Then in college (the first one – Stephen F. Austin State U) I took a costuming class as part of my theatre major. I’d like to say I am now brilliant at sewing but I like to cheat/cut corners; sometimes this works and other times it is a disaster. The seam ripper is my arch nemesis but oh so handy.

My most recent project was to make a skirt. I have a few skirts that I love the cut and have been wearing them for many years now (at least five). I had bought several different prints to make maternity clothes and then nursing tops. None of those plans ever came to fruition – mainly because those projects didn’t seem easy without a pattern. Did I mention I like to cut corners? Finally I decided I could make skirts and went to my attic to pick the fabric for my first skirt. My options were dragons, black background/red and white flowers or geishas. What instead caught my eye was fabric I’ve had for close to 10 years. I had originally planned to make pot holders/trivets with the fabulous sushi print.

Once I thought about having a sushi skirt, I could not let it go. I didn’t have enough fabric for the whole skirt so I decided to get a complimentary solid color for the waist band and an underskirt that showed below the sushi hemline. During Thanksgiving break 2011, Ike and I went to the fabric store and found the perfect color. I tend to gravitate towards the cotton fabrics quilters use because they are easy to work with, there are a lot of different prints/colors, and usually priced reasonably.

My first step was to choose the skirt style. I decided on a 3-4″ waistband, pleats, hemline just below the knee, with pockets. Having a toddler means I have no extra hands, ever. If a skirt doesn’t have pockets, it’s almost useless to me.

I washed, dried and ironed the material before making any cuts. I also made a couple sketches to help think through what I needed to do. Getting the sides of the outer and underskirt skirt sewn with the pockets and the waistband sewn and stitched was fairly easy. Then I had to figure out how to do the pleats. Because I’m stubborn, and convinced I could do this myself, I didn’t use the internet but instead just thought about what I needed to do.

making pleats

One month later during winter break I finally figured it out! I put the inner and outer skirt together. To measure out the pleats I used a scrap of fabric (see photo) that I had cut off of one of Ike’s onesies I converted to a regular shirt. Even though I hate pinning, I dutifully and diligently pinned the pleats.

skirt and waistband ready to attach

Once I got the inner and outer skirts sewn with their pleats, I laid out the skirt and waistband in preparation to attach them. My biggest challenge was the opening since I was using the pocket to reduce the amount of button holes I would need and maximize the opening to accommodate the weight gain that will happen once I stop nursing. So, another month of thinking . . .

hello, seam ripper

It wouldn’t be an authentic “cutting corners” project if I didn’t have to use my seam ripper at least once. I had to redo where the top of the pocket attached to the skirt as I had sewn both sides (at the top) together instead of leaving it open to create a wider opening when the skirt was fully unbuttoned.

I know, I should have pinned first

When I started to stitch the waistband and skirt together (Superbowl Sunday) I didn’t pin because it was the side no one would see. Thankfully, it turned out and I didn’t have to seam rip anything.

attaching the front

As you can see, I’m not always reckless and I pinned the front of the waistband (possibly excessively).

need buttonholes

Now came the difficult part. Buttonholes. Yes, they really aren’t that difficult but my sewing machine is on a zigzag strike which makes sewing buttonholes nearly impossible. Thankfully, a friend from church has a sewing machine and graciously put the four buttonholes in my skirt while I chased Ike around her home.

salvaged buttons

The buttons I chose were some I pulled off an old, moth eaten wool cardigan I dearly loved and did not want to get rid of. In addition to reusing the buttons and resurrecting a piece of my clothing history, I got the added benefit of having buttons that look a little like sushi rolls!

It took me another week or so before I finally ironed AND pinned the outer and under skirts in preparation for hemming. My goal was to finish the skirt before my birthday in March and I made it! The next skirt I plan on making will HOPEFULLY not take me four months to finish. I do know that the next skirt will not be (nearly) as full of whimsy.

helping momma

While I worked, Ike was super helpful. He played, happily, in his playpen my parents shipped from Texas in the trunk of a 1953 Ford Tudor. The one thing he wasn’t so keen on was sharing the play pen with one of my old Cabbage Patch dolls.

And now for the reveal . . .


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give me fever

I love the three day weekends. Wait! I love the four day weekends. WAIT! I love spring break! NO, WAAAAIT!!!! I love SUUUUUMMER – summertime, when the livin’s easy . . .

Clearly, I will take what I can get.

This past weekend was President’s Day weekend and I had planned to spend some quality time with Ike and some serious time sweeping the massive drifts of dog fur that piles up continually. It was a good plan. A solid plan. A plan without flaws.

Yeah, I should know better by now.

Friday evening was wonderful, Ike and I had a ton of fun before bedtime. I kept him up a little later than normal so he could spend a little time with “DaDa” (Z) who had spent the last two days prepping and then running sound for the President on one of his WA stops. Unfortunately, it kept getting later and later and when it was nearly an hour after Ike’s usual bedtime, I decided to stick him in the bath and start the bedtime routine. Ike was a little fussy because he was so tired so I decided to quickly soap him up and then let him play in the water for a bit. I had gotten him all rinsed off and he was finally calm and sitting in the water. I kept pouring warm water over his back while possibly, maybe, catching up on twitter. I looked over at him and saw that his eyes were closed. My darling little son had fallen asleep in the bath. This is now the second time he has done this in his short life and it was so hysterical that I took about a minute and a half of video of him sleeping. Then I decided to be a good mom and get him to bed.

He was all tucked in when Z showed up with pizza! We ate and he told me all about his surreal day (no, he didn’t get to shake the President’s hand) and we watched television. Ike slept 8 hours before needing to be nursed and we woke up to a potentially great day.

Ike and I got up around 6:30 and made breakfast, hung out and played. I went to a play in the afternoon and then Z cooked an amazing dinner of salmon and feta whipped mashed potatoes. As I was putting Ike in the bath I noticed that his armpits and head were warmer than normal. I tried to take his temperature but the thermometer only got to 99.3 before Ike was done. We got the bath taken and then I put him to bed around 7:30 and settled in to hang out with Z.

Two hours later Ike woke up. I nursed him back to sleep. Another two hours later, Ike woke up and I nursed him back to sleep, again. I went to bed thinking I would get at least four, maybe five, hours of sleep. Nope. 2:30 am and Ike not only woke up, he was REALLY awake. He was still feverish and kept crying and asking for a, “walk, walk” so we went downstairs and walked around the living room. He finally nursed back to sleep and we went back to bed. Then around 4:30 am we went through the whole routine of awake, “walk, walk” and going downstairs. We sat on the couch, looked at the cars outside and every time I told Ike that we couldn’t go on a walk tears poured down his face. He finally nursed to sleep, again, and we went back upstairs to bed. Only this time, as soon as I laid him down, he woke up and began crying for a “walk.” Downstairs we went. This time when he fell asleep, I laid on the couch with Ike cuddled in my arms and slept blissfully for two hours until he woke up. AGAIN.

Thankfully, the fever broke on Sunday afternoon and Ike was himself by bedtime. He did get the walk he wanted and I hope it is that easy to bring him happiness for MANY years.

quality time

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Don’t eat the baby’s doughnuts!

Our son, Ike (yeah, he’s only 18 months and already has an alias), has food intolerances. I’ve probably mentioned it before (and will again) because I’m forgetful. And thorough. Some of his reactions are mild – rash/vomit. Others are more severe – screaming/irritable/sleep disturbances. Thankfully, I was able to figure out most of his issues when he was still exclusively living off my milk. While changing my diet wasn’t the most fun thing I’ve done, it was way better than having a baby who screamed for hours in the middle of the night and/or vomited constantly.

Ike normally has the sweetest, kindest temperament I’ve seen in a toddler. He has spunk and won’t hesitate to say “no” but he’s usually very good natured. Now, if he has wheat . . . he is one of the most unpleasant children I’ve ever dealt with. Since I want to enjoy my child, I’m learning how to bake things that he can eat without pulling a Jekyll/Hyde.

This particular weekend, I made rice flour muffins. I used Bob’s Red Mill white rice flour because it’s easy to get and it has a very easy recipe on the bag. I substituted banana for the egg since eggs will keep Ike from sleeping and give him horrible intestinal pain. I used coconut milk for my liquid but could have used juice or water and I omitted the sugar because I decided to put in chocolate chips that I chopped up with my Vitamix.

Ike loves chocolate chips so while I was mixing the batter, he kept asking for more and I did indulge him a little. Once the batter was ready, I split it between my miniature doughnut pan and a muffin tin. The muffins/doughnuts smelled amazing when they were finished baking. It was hard to let them cool completely before testing (you know, to make sure I didn’t poison anyone). There was a hint of banana taste but the chocolate chips made them wonderful!

Even though the treats were supposed to just be for Ike, the husband and I ate our fair share. Between the three of us, we finished off more than half of the 12 doughnuts and had eaten all of the 12 muffins by the time Saturday was over. The biggest potential drawback is the amount of caffeine in the chocolate. Ike turns into a crab and won’t sleep  properly when I have caffeine and it seems that the chocolate was a bit much. Nap time, both Saturday and Sunday, was a nightmare! It took over an hour to get him to sleep both days and there was lots of screaming, crying (him, not me), and pleading (definitely me).

Next weekend I’ll skip the chocolate and add in something healthy like blueberries. Mmmmmm, blueberry/banana doughnuts!

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“Noo, noo!” (rhymes with moo)

My husband cooks the most amazing foods and is single handedly responsible for keeping me from living on a diet of fried eggs, nachos, and orange juice. This year, however, he has started a Masters in Education/Administrative Credential program. He is putting in many hours of work in an internship on top of his teaching duties. This leaves him little time for cooking so instead of being treated to wonderful meals most nights of the week, I only get to enjoy his culinary skills a few times a week.

Yes, I know, I’ve been spoiled.

It would be so easy to fall back on my 5 minute meals but the days of fending for myself are over!  When our toddler, Ike, was exclusively nursing. I discovered he had food intolerances (eggs, wheat, dairy, nuts) and had to completely change my diet. Thankfully his sensitivities are milder and I only have to refrain from nuts but cooking for him requires creativity. I’m learning how to cook a variety of healthy gluten/egg/dairy/nut free meals; thankfully he likes fruits and vegetables and isn’t the pickiest eater.

Last night I made some rice noodles for us. He likes to eat them plain but I wanted to put something on top of mine. We didn’t have any sauce (husband makes his from scratch) so I decided to wilt some spinach in a little olive oil and garlic to put on my noodles. As I was preparing to throw the spinach in the pan I noticed the 2 lbs of roma tomatoes from our farm share box. I thought they might be good with the spinach so I chopped up two and threw them into the cast iron skillet with the spinach, oil and garlic. I let it simmer while the noodles cooked and about 15 minutes after I started preheating my pans, dinner was done!

I held Ike while I pulled the noodles out of the pan and he pointed to them and said, “NOO! NOO!” The kid LOVES his NOOdles. He is usually super happy with his plain noodles (sometimes I add broccoli and ham) but this time he kept pointing at my plate. I gave him a small bite of my noodles with spinach and tomatoes and he ate it. His reaction was nearly instantaneous; he nodded his head and said, “mmm, mmm” while smacking his lips. I had to stir his noodles in with mine and feed him off of my plate to keep him happy. It was gratifying to feed him something nutritious and easy. Cleaning was a cinch since it was one cast iron skillet, one pot, one cutting board, a knife, plate, bowl and 2 forks.

The main problem I have now? We ate all the “noo” and have to stock up before we can make this again.


Filed under the reluctant chef

well, finally

After toying with the idea of blogging for some time and then deciding that I would ACTUALLY jump in, it seems that I finally got my act together. Procrastination + toddler + husband who nixed all the blog names = taking a whole month to get this thing up and running. Sheesh.

I have a couple different posts rattling in my brain but they require me finishing one project and starting and finishing another. The project to finish is my sushi skirt. Eventually I will add the link here when it is up. I’ve been working on this skirt since the latter part of 2011 and I am ALMOST done. All I have left is to hem both the outer and inner skirt. Since my birthday is less than a month away and I have VOWED to be finished by then, I’m starting to feel the pressure. Maybe during the Super Bowl . . .

The other post will be categorized under Accidental Girl Mechanic and will chronicle my attempt to fix our second car (aka my inheritance). There is a short or something that is draining the car battery when the motor is off. Thankfully, I’m able to carpool or walk to the free light rail so having a second car hasn’t been a huge priority but, especially since spring is nearish, I would love to be able to run errands in my 1953 Ford Tudor.

And now, being Sunday, I have laundry to finish and should probably get on that while my toddler still naps.

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