Friday, 29 June 2007

The linky stuff

Keeping up with all the links I want to round up is hard work! I've been making myself acquainted with and accumulated 65 items already (here are my bookmarks). Perhaps what this should be saying to me is that I spend too much time surfing the web? Anyway. I notice that they have a feature that automatically posts your new saved links to your blog for you so maybe I'll try that out and see how it goes. And now it's way past time for bed.

The next week or so is going to be pretty crazy around here (socialising, singing, birthdays and more) so I don't know that I'm going to be much better about keeping up with this blogging thing but I'll try because I've got finished objects to share, and more cooking experiments to write about at the very least.


Hmm, I'm not sure that the automatic posting to your blog thingy works with the new blogger so for the time being I've put a linkroll in the sidebar.

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Thrifting catch-up

I'm so behind on posting my thrifting finds (well, and on posting in general). I actually don't have pictures of everything, not everything is that interesting to look at anyway.

A fortnight ago I got this cute plate, I still had some chives left so I could put a few flowers on for the photo!

I also got three more sheets but this time all white. One has a fancy-ish embroidered edge so maybe I'll use that for a skirt/petticoat. The others I'm thinking will be handy for trying out patterns I'm scared of before I cut into more precious fabric. I figure if things turn out well I could always try dyeing the finished item if it's something I wouldn't wear in white.

Today I put off going out until it started to cool down a bit because I haven't got used to it being summer for real. This meant I got to the thrift store about 15 minutes before closing time, but I still managed to come out with more than usual.

I got a couple of tank tops which I didn't take pictures of. Some fabric, pictured to the left. First is a tablecloth which I will probably use as a tablecloth if it fits our dining room table (we'll see, we have to unearth the table for me to be able to check, one day in the hopefully not too distant future though we'll be eating dinner at the table most nights and while we won't need a tablecloth every night it'd be nice to own some!). If it doesn't fit I think it would make nice trousers (for around the house/sleeping). In the middle is a pillowcase, I might try making a dress for my daughter from it, probably not this year though. I'm thinking it's a good candidate for smocking since with the checked pattern I wouldn't have to mark it up for the stitching, but I don't have time to sew even simple things right now. And then finally on the right is some batik fabric, not sure what I'll do with it yet as I'm not really one for wearing red myself and the pattern's a bit big for clothing for my daughter (she loved it though so that's part of why it came home with us)

Also from the thrift store this box of goodies -- lots of different colours of binding, silver rick-rack (!), lengths of lace and other bits and pieces. All for a dollar and fifty cents! A lot of the packets are opened and partly used, but since I'm making lots of smaller things these days I figure it's all going to be useful and therefore was a good deal.

Last but by no means least is the china. A couple of plates with a simple but sweet pattern around the edge (the underside suggests they come from Austria). And I'm loving the tea infuser which comes with it's own little pot that you can stand it in to cool once the tea has brewed. I think it's by far my favourite purchase. I guess from the picture and words on the pot that it's intended for making peppermint tea but I imagine it will be alright to make black tea or red raspberry leaf with it instead. I don't drink peppermint tea very often, and actually I seem to remember that too much mint maybe isn't good when you're nursing?? It's marked Kaiser W Germany on the bottom which would seem to give some clue as to its age.

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Baby Food

There seems to be quite a bit of media attention (in the UK at least) being given to baby food and baby-led weaning (BLW) just now. I noticed an article at the BBCNews website yesterday - Pureed baby food is 'unnatural' - and there's a wikipedia entry on baby-led weaning too. And ParentDish has picked up on the BBC article too.

I came across Gill Rapley's Guidelines for implementing a baby-led approach to the introduction of solid food via a comment (I don't know where I saw that, but there's a post about introducing solids here)at the Ask Moxie blog when I was reading around about introducing solids. I think that a lot of what Rapley's saying has been distorted but the media unfortunately -- putting the general population on the defensive perhaps because purees and jarred baby food have been the norm for so long?

Although I haven't done things exactly according to her guidelines, so much of what Rapley says makes a lot of sense to me. I've done a mix of spoonfeeding and giving finger-foods to our daughter. Against my better judgement I did try giving her rice cereal mixed with breastmilk as one of her first foods, she was so unimpressed; she ate some but kept giving me these looks that said Really? I'll eat this, but you realise it's breastmilk that tastes nasty? Why are you making me eat this? So we didn't do that again, and if she doesn't like something I don't try to force her (not that getting her to eat something she's taken against is much of an option) -- sometimes I'll try again another day with a different prep method.

At 11 months she eats a fair variety of foods, and clearly prefers food with texture, and things she can put in her mouth herself. She'll give most anything a try, but isn't afraid to reject something that doesn't taste good to her. One aspect of BLW that I think makes a lot of sense is trusting the baby to tell you when it wants to eat food, and how much. It seems to me that it follows on naturally from breastfeeding on demand which is what we've been doing since she was born. Hopefully she's learning to eat when she's hungry/drink when she's thirsty and stop when she's had enough (she certainly seems to be maintaining a healthy weight and developing on track). I sit down with her in her chair for meals, but she also gets to snack throughout the day (as do I, not only because breastfeeding makes me hungry a lot but also because with PCOS the idea of more small and frequent meals is more valuable than ever).

Our daughter hasn't yet shown any food sensitivities (so far so good), started teething before we were introducing solids, always had good head control, was really interested in food (trying to steal it from us and mimicking our chewing motions while watching us eat) and could sit up before we got started. She's also never had much trouble swallowing so long as whatever she was eating wasn't too much at once. She figured out how to cough forward anything that she wasn't going to be able to swallow so that she could gum/chew some more and try again or spit it out. There's been very little gagging, and nothing she couldn't handle herself. Here's hoping that continues. I imagine this would be a lot harder if she had allergies, reflux or developmental difficulties that make eating a challenge. I'm sure she'll get fussier when she's asserting her independence (and really I was a terribly fussy eater so I keep thinking it can't be as easy as it's been so far).

I'm really pleased to say we haven't used any jarred babyfood so far (although right now I'm having trouble preparing for going away from tomorrow through Sunday to a place with no kitchen access and no idea what food will be on offer...). I have bought big jars of applesauce to mix with barley or oatmeal. There are some other processed foods she eats now -- teething biscuits (although sometimes I bake those myself), unsweetened breakfast cereal, pasta, bread, sheets of nori (the hands down favourite) and rice cakes for snacking. Mostly though I just cut up fruit and tofu (she'll only eat it plain in cubes), steam veggies, poach egg yolks and chicken and boil up oats, lentils and pearled barley. I do puree prunes in the food processor but mostly she doesn't like purees, prunes are the exception. She thought pureed peas were a horrible idea but whole peas are her candy. (Oh and she also nurses plentifully still -- I'm not worrying too much about which solids she eats because I'm remembering that breastmilk is still her primary source of nutrition.)

I'm definitely moving more and more in the direction of giving her what we're eating simplified. I've been more focused on introducing foods one at a time, and holding off on a lot of the common allergens (although she had wheat pretty early on) than one perhaps might be when following the BLW guidelines with not much of any food allergies on either side of the family. She's getting pretty close to a year now, her digestive system is getting stronger and able to cope with more and more new things so I'm looking forward to introducing her to lots of tasty things in the next year!

If you're interested in reading more about Rapley and baby led weaning there are links at the wikipedia entry I mentioned. I just listened to the interview on BBC Radio 4's Women's Hour from 2004 with Rapley and Annabel Karmel (author of Feeding Your Baby and Toddler). Karmel voices some concerns that I think a lot of people might have about Rapley's approach, and Rapley explains her approach. I found it interesting (although I found Karmel's delivery a little off-putting but that may be just me). The segment's about 12 and a half minutes long -- check it out here.

Part of what spurred me to write a blog post about this was the coincidence of the news stories and a new Ask Moxie post that led to a mention of the baby-led weaning introduction of solids yesterday. I had another look at today and saw that someone had posted in the comments with a link to another interesting sounding site that I've taken a brief look at. It's a site started by two mums following Gill Rapley's guidelines called simply baby led weaning

I'm also planning to read through this webchat Rapley did at the progressive parenting site. This is a new parenting site to me but it looks right up my alley -- they say:
We are strong believers in each baby being an individual and each family have unique sets of circumstances. We also think a parent’s best asset is their instinct but that instinct has to be an informed one.

I'll have to check it out more and see what else is there.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Eating our vegetables

I read at Slashfood that June is National Fruit and Vegetable Month. I think I'm more inspired to eat fresh fruit and veggies around now every year just because 'tis the season. And of course there's all kinds of inspiration on the internet. These days I'm also trying to interest our daughter in fruits and veggies. Current favourites are steamed spinach, peas and most every fruit she's offered (especially peaches, plums, kiwi fruit and mango).

As suggested I had a go at the Chocolate and Beetroot Cake seen at the Great Big Vegetable Challenge. There weren't pictures from the blog, or the site with the recipe so I thought I'd take some to share. You can get an idea of how pretty the batter is! And you can see the slivers of beetroot in the slice of cake too. The recipe says that the beetroot makes the cake moist so I was surprised at how dry it looked when I cut a slice. I wonder if I should have grated the beetroot more finely (I did it in the food processor for speed and in the interest of keeping my hands closer to their original colour!). Actually it doesn't taste dry, although mine's quite crumbly. It's very chocolaty, I don't particularly notice the beetroot but maybe it's what's enhancing the chocolate so well.

I noticed that I also have a chocolate and beetroot layer cake in my chocolate cookbook. It uses canned beets though and I'm not sure how one would substitute canned for home cooked in terms of liquid. Perhaps I'll have a go some other time. *** edited to add -- I just came across another chocolate-beetroot cake while looking for recipes for my daughter. This definitely looks like something I want to try -- Beet Chocolate Cake with Banana-Peanut Butter Sauce**

Here are my purchases from the mid-week farmers market last week.

I've bought both rosemary and mint at the farmers market recently which naturally got me to thinking about lamb. So, I went to the coop and got lamb chops, new potatoes and heirloom tomatoes (I already had the mushrooms and peas).

For dinner I made a dressing of balsamic vinegar, oil, scallions, garlic, mint and rosemary, a little of that went on the lamb and mushrooms in the frying pan, and the tomatoes in the oven. I boiled the potatoes with some mint 'til soft then added the peas (the were frozen so just needed warming through). Once the meat and mushrooms were done I served them onto the plates and put the potatoes and peas in the frying pan and tossed them in the lamb juices and the rest of the dressing. So good, the mint is so refreshing with the rich taste of the lamb and I just love the brief opportunity for boiled new potatoes (which seem much harder to come by in the US).

Some of the strawberries from the farmers market cut up went very nicely with a slice of the chocolate/beetroot cake for dessert too.

Monday, 18 June 2007

I've been away from the computer for a bit -- busy weekend and also a new computer so some transition issues. I'm so very behind with things I want to look at online -- doing lots of skim reading!

At the Recipes to Share Flickr group there was a request for chewy cookie recipes. I definitely prefer a chewy cookie so I thought I'd make a note of that, here are the recipe suggestions thus far:
Oatmeal Cinnamon Chewy Cookies
Yummy Chocolate Chip Cookies

NYTimes articles on my to-read list:
Autism Debate Strains a Family and Its Charity
In the Classroom, a New Focus on Quieting the Mind

CRAFT Pattern Podcast: Burda Style's Cate Dress
Refashioned T-Shirt into Summer Top

Thursday, 14 June 2007

The gathering of the links and other random musings.

Public 'unaware' of food origins - "Many British people are unaware that the ingredients for produce such as bacon, porridge, bread and beer come from farms, a survey suggests." [BBC]

The diary of a 14 year old Polish girl who lived in the Jewish ghetto and died in the Holocaust has come to light after being kept safe for 60 years by a friend. [via Parentdish] I was absorbed when I first read Anne Frank's diary (still am), this sounds as though it would be similarly fascinating, if more harrowing to read.

I read that Darcey Bussell is retiring from the Royal Ballet, the BBC has an In Pictures set of photos covering her career there. When I was in high school I was lucky enough to be taken to see the Royal Ballet by the family of one of my best friends and saw her dance. It's something I never would have done with my family. We had a cultural exchange going on -- we would take my friend to folk/traditional music and dance things and her family too me to see ballet and plays in London and Stratford, and sometimes we and our mothers would go see plays and movies at our local theatre. When we got into our later teens my friend and I , sometimes with a larger group of friends would go up to London for some of the Prom concerts in the summer too.

It's something I miss about my life in England, I've barely been to the theatre at all since living in the US and not that many musical concerts, and no ballet at all. Of course we do a lot of music so it's not as though I'm completely bereft, and it's not as if we even get to watch movies these days what with having a baby. It's definitely time to be organising a babysitter and a date for me and the husband.

Late risers unite in Denmark - "If you find it hard to get up in the morning, don't despair - you're not lazy, you're just genetically programmed that way, says the B-Society in Denmark." The link is to an article at the From Our Own Correspondent site, the story's part of the most recent episode (you can listen online or download the most recent episode). I like this idea of adapting society to the way different people's body clocks work. Of course I would since all of our household tends toward late to bed and late to rise!

Cod liver oil 'treats depression' - "It may make the stomach turn, but scientists in Norway suggest that taking a spoonful of cod liver oil each day could stave off depression." [BBC]

Friday, 8 June 2007

some links I want to keep track of

Some BBC articles:
via ParentDish:

via Flickr:
African mosaic - A fabulous quilt made from African fabrics
Super cute photo of a sleeping baby with soft toy
fairisle stripes baby kimono - and there's a link to the pattern (free)

Some other things I've seen via Bloglines feeds!:
Don't remember where I found these:

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Thrifting Thursday

I actually went to the thrift store yesterday after visiting the farmers market. I had thought I'd just run down to the market and home because the baby was due for a nap but she was not about to fall asleep (too much to look at I guess) so I also went to the pharmacy (insulin for husband), bakery (a treat for me, and a loaf of honey walnut bread), the thrift store and the co-op.

Daughter seems to have abandoned her usual napping the last couple of days. Don't know whether it's the developmental leaps she's working on, or some new teeth or just perversity of nature (entirely likely looking at her parents) but we're both exhausted by the end of the day. Speaking of which I should make this quick and close down the computer and the kitchen and get to bed so that I can get some sleep!

First though, here are my thrift store finds this week. The top two pieces of fabric are poly/cotton sheets. The bottom piece is some cotton, it's the sort of weight that makes me think of tea towels. I'm wondering whether to make an apron with it. Perhaps I could use some for a panel in a new mai tei. I think my daughter's favourite is the top fabric with the big flowers. She's always had a thing about floral prints come to think of it.

I haven't really looked at the book yet, the front caught my fancy, and it was only a dollar so I thought why not. I'm not really very good at coming up with coherent ideas about design so maybe it'll give me useful things to think about (if I ever have time to read it!).

Also from the thrift store -- a grey silk skirt marked down to $2:25! I think maybe someone washed it and it shrank a little since the lining is longer than the skirt, but that's easy enough to fix and it fits me. No picture though because the room with the full length mirror is where my daughter naps currently, and it's proving hard to get a picture of myself when she's not napping.

I'll leave you with a picture of the pretty chives and mint "fresh from the farmers market." See the icon? It's from A Veggie Venture blog -- the idea is "to encourage all of us to seek out fresh produce from our hometown farmers markets". What a nice idea. Click on the icon to go straight to the post about Blush the Sweet Tomato which I came to via Everybody Likes Sandwiches who designed it.

The lady gave me the chives for free because she was so pleased I wanted them -- apparently not many people had been buying them and they're so pretty even if you don't know how to use them for food! I chopped some up and put them in with the pasta sauce at dinner, but I'm enjoying having them around for decoration and scent too as I catch the mint wafting by me. Now if I could just remember why I was looking for mint at the farmers market... I also got a big bunch of rhubarb (more on rhubarb another time) and some mesclun greens that we had for dinner tonight in another incarnation of that warm salad I made the other day.

Saturday, 2 June 2007

A Nice Day...

after a crummy night. Last night our daughter went to bed just fine and she and her daddy slept for about an hour while I messed around on the computer. She woke up needing to pee around 1am and didn't go back to sleep until at least 3:30. I don't know whether it had anything to do with having two big long naps during the day (usually one of them at least is short), or maybe it's more to do with her having just figured out that she can flip herself over and go crawling around the bed and that's just too interesting to agree to lying down and closing her eyes. She wouldn't even nurse to sleep. Uggh. And we had to get up in the morning.

Still we did manage to drag ourselves out of bed in the morning and get out the door in time to see the cow parade. The lovely MissM went in costume as we happen to have a set of cow themed sleepers courtesy of my mother (my brother works with cows and she's got a little obsessed). The weather was warm and humid and I have a red nose and forehead now because I forgot sunscreen. Our daughter also has a sightly red nose but I did at least have a sunbonnet for her, and she was getting hot and sleepy so her daddy took her into the shade later in the parade.

After the procession was over we went down to check out the rest of the party. We saw a sheep being sheared (which came with an interesting talk about the history of shearing and commentary on how it's done). Our baby girl was more interested in making friends with the sheepdog and playing with her balloon.

We had lunch from one of the local food stands (I had sweet Italian sausage, my husband had ham and cheddar sandwich and our friends had tasty looking pizza which I opted away from because we ate pizza last night). We didn't spend much time looking at the craft and other stalls but I did get something to store all the bananas we have these days. I've been thinking of getting one for a while (so that I can keep the bananas separate from the other fruit) and happened to spot this, at three dollars it seemed like a good deal.

We also stopped by the library for the end of the friends of the library annual book sale. Here's what we came home with. Mostly me. My husband picked up the book on tape (for his long commute) and the history book. I picked up "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night" which we both read a while back and knew that we would both read again so why not pick up a copy to own.

My favourite find is probably the little children's book called "A Friend Is Someone Who Likes You" -- I love the illustrations. It's coming adrift at the binding a bit, but I couldn't believe no-one had picked this up.