A sad state of affairs

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:17 pm

I am familiar with the current state of politics in France.  This is due mostly to the fact that around the time of the most recent election, I was rehearsing a lot in Coralville, which is a 20-25 minute commute one-way from my house.  Thus, I listened to a lot of NPR and kept up with international events, such as the controversial French election.

Until this very day, I had no idea the president’s name was Sarkozy.  I knew how to pronounce it, but I imagined it was something like Sarcousis.  I don’t speak French with any authority; I just like to picture words when I hear them.

Note to self:  read a damn newspaper.

Garden challenges

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:09 pm

It looks like it’s going to be a beautiful weekend.  I wonder what we’ll get done, exactly.  Maybe I’ll prime Bisquito’s room, if I can find low-fume primer.  I know there exist paints of that sort, so I guess there are probably primers too.  Painting is kind of fun, and the weather will be nice enough that we could keep the windows open.  It’s a small room, so it’s nice to have a manageable project nicely bounded like that.

Last night we had what were probably the last BLTs of the season.  There was only one reasonable candidate tomato left on the plants.  There are a lot rotting on the ground, and some more that will probably never ripen.  I always feel bad about the rotties, but I picked so many tomatoes, and we ate so many of them, and I made tomato sauce out of so many more that it was just all I could deal with.  It happens every year, and every year Denny suggests planting fewer, but that idea makes me sad for some reason.  Why would anybody want FEWER tomatoes?  Would you want fewer baby snuggles or unicorns or pegasus-unicorns (which don’t exist in mythology but should)?

The pineapple sage is also out of freaking control.  It looked like a fun little herb at Earl May, and it is—it smells just like pineapple and I planned to make some kind of infused ice cream with it.  I never got around to the ice cream (actually what happened is that I lost my taste for sweets upon getting pregnant, but I think that’s coming back second trimester here), and the plant got huge.  It looks like a bush and it has some nice flowers on it.  The leaves still smell nice.  Perhaps one day soon I’ll do something cool with it.

What kind of dessert would be good with pineapple-sage infused ice cream?  Maybe something cinnamony and caramelly?



Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:28 pm

I was tidying up my desk today, and in the process of scooping up a stack of papers, I got a very painful papercut right about where my fingernail meets my fingertip (the tender fleshy side, not the cuticle side).

The moral of this story? Never clean.

Denny has an eye doctor appointment this afternoon, so I need to leave early to accompany him. I have to drive him home because he’s getting dilated. To be fair, I’m going to expect him to drive me around the next time I’m dilating (and I never go to the eye doctor, by the way).

I also need to go to the grocery store, at which time I will probably buy beer in anticipation of my parents’ visit this weekend (some sort of sports-related thing). I secretly hope people cast judgmental glances at the pregnant lady buying beer. Then I can be all indignant, or better yet, I can ask where they keep the bottle openers so I can drink it on the drive home.


Brain squish

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:34 pm

The day got all busy without warning me it was going to turn busy. Troubling indeed.

That’s all I’ve got, yo.

Oh, and this guide to disappearing (not magic-style, more like fugitive-style). Not that I’m going to.  Mostly it’s just interesting to think about the person who thought so hard about this topic.


Denny is nice

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:02 pm

In an online forum I read, somebody posed the question of the top three romantic things your significant other has done for you. I thought of three in no time, and I thought of a bunch of more very easily. The romantic things are kind of private, so I’m not going to go into detail on those, but I would like to list some of the qualities I particularly love and admire in Denny.

1. He is dedicated to his family. When a family member is going through a rough time, Denny is always there to lend support. This demonstrates the kind of dedication he has to me and will have for our own little family as it grows.

2. He has a good attitude toward my family. He never gives me any ‘tude about spending time with my family; he says he genuinely enjoys it. It’s so nice not to have to worry about dragging him along to family events.

3. He understands what’s important to me. He has the opportunity to go to an out-of-town work event next month, but it would mean missing our first childbirth class, and when I told him I was uncomfortable going alone, he immediately assured me that he’d skip the work event.

4. He doesn’t get mad at me for not being tidy, even though I know in his perfect world, the house would be cleaner than it is.

5. He sings songs to my abdomen.

6.  Sometimes he turns on music, grabs me, and dances me around the living room.

There are many more, but I’m at work and I don’t want to get all weepy (pregnancy turns all feelings into Deepest Tender Feelings, you know).


I saw the names down in Africa

Filed under: — Aprille @ 10:12 am

So DC and I (mostly I, as DC seems to feel no urgency on this matter) picked up a baby names book this weekend.  Along with the typical alphabetical listings, it has sections with names listed in a variety of categories, including the most popular names from different countries.

They have the most popular names from the U.S., Canada, England, Ireland, Scotland, France, Spain, Chile, China, Korea, Japan, Russia, Austria, and a whole bunch of others.  However, there’s just one category for all of Africa.

Are they trying to tell me that the same list of 20 names is popular in such diverse countries as Egypt, Somalia, Djibouti, and South Africa?  It’s a big freaking continent, people.  My friend Derek recently took it upon himself to learn all the countries of Africa and their capitals, and believe me, there was a lot to learn.

The only other countries that were grouped like that were the Scandinavian countries.  That might burn up a Norwegian who doesn’t want to be taken for a Swede (they’re grumpy about that), but that grouping makes more sense to me than the Africa one.

Another interesting note:  the name “Suck Chin” is used in Korea.  I think that happened to my aunt once when a baby goat had nipple confusion.

Rock out with my uterus out

Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:56 am

Sadly, I have exactly zero occasion to wear these awesome rock-inspired maternity shirts, but I’m just happy they exist.

I especially like the Blondie one.


Never-fail game hens

Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:41 pm

After much, much experimentation, I have come up with a no-fail cooking method for Cornish game hens. This is a good date meal because it looks a lot more difficult than it is.

Failure-proof Cornish game hens

Equipment needed: roasting pan (ideally with elevated rack), meat thermometer


Stuffing of your choice
2 Cornish game hens, thawed and rinsed
2 tsp butter, cut into 4 equal pieces
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Appx. 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch asparagus or other vegetable of your choice

1. Make your stuffing. You can use whatever kind you like; here’s my favorite:
Prepare your favorite cornbread batter. Before you bake it, add 1 shallot, finely minced; 1/2 cup chopped pecans; and 1/2 cup dried cherries, cut up a little. Bake according to recipe directions; set aside to cool until it doesn’t hurt to touch it. Cut it into approximately 1-inch cubes. Sprinkle about 1/2 cup chicken stock over stuffing, mixing with your hands, until it is moist and holds its shape when squeezed.

2. Heat oven to 400F.

2a.  Warm up your stuffing if it’s room temperature or cooler.  A minute or so in the microwave will do it.  The idea is that since we’re taking the temperature from the cavity, you don’t want to require a lot of extra time to get cold stuffing up to temperature, because by that time, your hens will be overcooked.

3. Prepare hens: dry hens well with paper towels. Fill with about 1/2 cup stuffing; don’t overstuff. Separate the skin from the breast just enough that you can get your finger in there; slide a butter chunk between the skin and each of the two breast parts per hen. Rub all over with olive oil, then season generously with salt and pepper. Place breast-side down in roasting pan. Insert meat thermometer (ideally remote-read) into the center of the cavity, so it’s stuck into the stuffing. Roast for 25-30 minutes or until just beginning to brown.

4. Flip hens so they are breast-side up. Roast until the thermometer reads 150F, which should take another 15-20 minutes.

5. Remove pan from oven; set rack with hens on it aside. Put asparagus and stir to coat in drippings. There’s nothing better than taking a perfectly healthy food like asparagus and cooking it in chicken fat. Replace rack and return pan to oven.

6. Crank the heat up to 450F. Remove from oven when thermometer reads 165F, which should be another 5-10 minutes. The skin will be nice and browned, the meat will be cooked through but still juicy, and your dining partner will think you’re fancy.

Serves 2.


Shopping is so rude

Filed under: — Aprille @ 5:01 pm

Whoa, I got unexpectedly busy this afternoon and neglected to post.  I’d skip it, but my mub worries if I don’t.

The weekend will probably consist of doing the final cleanout of Bisqui’s room, possibly including tearing out the carpet.  We might also have to go to the mall (BOOOOO-urns) because Denny is dissatisfied with his current shirt wardrobe, and it would be good to look at some baby stuff of the furniture and stroller variety.

If I had my way, I’d buy everything online.  It’s so convenient.  You just click on what you want and somebody brings it to your house.  Magic.


Bisquito loves chocolate

Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:13 pm

To be upfront:  I like chocolate, but I don’t love chocolate.  Generally speaking, I’d choose a fruit dessert or something vanilla or caramel over chocolate.  I’ll eat it if it’s around, but I’m not one of those people who needs it every day or even every week.

However, I was still kind of hungry after lunch today, and in the mood for something sweet, so I went down to CVS and picked up some dark Lindt chocolate with orange and almond slivers.  It looked kind of interesting.  I ate about half of it, and it was good.

I had forgotten that today is ice cream day.  Once a year, the directors at work hire an ice cream truck and treat everybody to our choice of frozen delights.  Almost everything had chocolate in it, so I ended up with a chocolate-covered ice cream bar.  What am I going to do, turn down a free treat?  I don’t think so.

I have since come to the conclusion that Bisqui loves chocolate.  He/she has been wiggly ever since I had my snacks this afternoon, and this is not normally an active time for him/her.  It reminds me of when Denny and I had the liquid-center chocolate cake last weekend:  kick city.

Now I know what flavor cupcake he/she will get to dive into on his/her first birthday.  Chocolate makes for better pictures anyway.

Another possible destination

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:01 pm

Denny and I continue to optimistically plan a long weekend getaway pre-baby…but constraints are emerging. We’re going to have a 6-week childbirth class that meets on Saturdays starting mid-October, and by the time that’s over, I might not feel up to doing anything too exciting, plus I’ll be getting close to that third-trimester time when airlines sometimes get fussy about dames like me flying. I might have to get a seatbelt extender. Weird. Actually probably not, since airplane seatbelts sit pretty low. But anyway…

A current consideration is the northern Arizona area. I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon, and there’s a hotel in Winslow that Denny loves, and Allegiant Air could fly us to Phoenix pretty cheap. It would mean some driving time, but that’s probably okay. Also, there appear to be some coollooking archaeological parks in the area, and I’m a sucker for that kind of thing.

Also, October/November in Arizona sounds better than October/November in Quebec. I still want to hit Montreal/Quebec City, but maybe not just yet.

Any Arizona lovers out there? Linds, I remember you saying something before about the Sedona area; are you familiar with other parts of that general locale?  Scott, can you speak for your new home turf?


Apples and kicks

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:07 pm

I almost don’t want to post because it will demote Bisquito from first place.

I’m kind of hungry but nothing sounds good, at least nothing that’s immediately available to me.  What I would like is a nice, crisp, tart apple.  It’s probably apple-picking season, or it will be soon, right?  DC and I should get out and do that.

We have a meeting this afternoon to talk to a benefits counselor about a whole bunch of grownup crap, like maternity leave, life insurance, leave for Denny, and how FMLA plays into it.  It’s all very confusing, and even though I’ve tried to glean as much as I can from online forms, I hope it’s more informative to sit down with an expert.

Last night Bisquito was sweet to me.  Usually in the evening, which is generally his/her most active time, I lie down and have a little talk with him/her and do some belly prodding to try to induce movement.  Last night, I said I wouldn’t do any prodding because he/she had already been prodded enough during the ultrasound and deserved a break.

Then I said, “Of course, a little kick wouldn’t hurt anybody.”

Right at that moment, I felt a little nudge in my lower-left abdomen.  Thanks for checking in, Bisqui.



Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:11 pm

We had our first ultrasound today (20 weeks). We also got the results of our AFP test (a screening test that looks for markers of genetic diseases), and everything looks A-OK. It was really exciting to see Bisquito for the first time. I got a bit boo-hooey about it, so now I’ve got that “crying hangover” feeling—puffy eyes, cloggy sinuses—and it’s weird because I’m not sad at all. It could also be due in part to allergies.

So anyway, here’s Bisqui. Click for larger versions if you’re so inclined.

This is the head and spine in profile.

This is the left foot. His/her legs were all curled up (so probably even if we’d wanted to know the gender we couldn’t have, which is fine since we want to keep it a surprise). It was hard to see both feet, but we did see some nice femur action and some wiggling.

The ultrasound technician did a good job, but typing was not her strong suit. Note the adorable typo in the shot of Bisqui’s little fist, below.

Yes, my baby does bear a resemblance to Skeletor, but I love him/her anyway. They assure me he/she will chub up with time.


Date night

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:11 pm

Denny and I had a fun Saturday night.  We saw the film Manufactured Landscapes, which was good if a little depressing.  It was my first time at the Bijou since it got remodeled, and it was really nice (although the rows are close together and I banged my thigh on an armrest while we were getting to our seats—ow ow ow).

Then we went to dinner at One Twenty Six because I had a gift certificate that works at selected businesses in Iowa City/Coralville, and One Twenty Six was the nicest joint that accepts it.  We had:

  • A glass of Shiraz (DC) and water (both of us)
  • A duck confit in phyllo appetizer (shared, and excellent—light and crispy on the outside, melt-in-your mouth tender and savory on the inside)
  • Ribeye with bleu cheese and some other stuff I can’t remember (DC)
  • Rack of lamb with fingerling potatoes and ratatouille (AC)
  • Liquid center chocolate cake (shared)

Not only did we enjoy the dinner, Bisquito did too (or maybe he/she was just hopped up on the chocolate cake).  There was a lot of bouncing around in my belly that evening.  It was cool but also kind of weird.

Wow, I used 3 of my 4 categories on this post.  If only we had been traveling somewhere interesting when this all transpired…


Browned butter cream cheese frosting

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:16 pm

I was in the mood for fall foods, so I made a batch of pumpkin bars.  The bars themselves are fine—a little more cakey than bar-y, but I’ve never actually succeeded in making them truly bar-like.  But that’s okay; they’re still tasty.  The real standout is the frosting.  I read a recipe for browned butter frosting, but I like cream cheese frosting so much on pumpkin bars that I thought I’d try a hybrid.

It’s really great.  The browned butter gives it a really nice caramelly dimension, it’s sweet but not tooth-itchingly sweet, and this recipe makes a generous amount so you can eat it with a spoon save some for another occasion.

Pumpkin bars with browned butter cream cheese frosting

For pumpkin bars:

3 eggs
1 cup white sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup applesauce (I used cinnamon)
15 oz (1 can or a scant 2 cups of home cooked) pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Using an electric mixer, mix eggs, sugars, oil, applesauce, and pumpkin until smooth and well-blended.  In another bowl, combine remaining ingredients and mix well.  Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture in several batches, mixing by hand after each batch.  Lightly spray with cooking spray an 11″x15″ jelly roll pan or cookie sheet with sides and pour batter into it.  Bake at 350 F for 25-30 minutes.  Allow to cool well before frosting.

For frosting:

1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter
2 8-oz packages cream cheese (I used neufchatel to reduce the fat and it was great), softened
2 cups powdered sugar

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Cook, stirring and checking frequently, until it turns a medium brown color and gives off a caramel odor.  Allow to cool for at least half an hour before proceeding.

Using an electric mixer, combine cream cheese and butter until uniform in color and texture.  Add powdered sugar, half a cup at a time, until completely combined.  Use to frost pumpkin bars, reserving any excess.


A pig will serve itself to you.

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:14 pm

I’m a little late on this, but work is finally slowing enough that I can read all those backed-up RSS feeds.

An alarm clock that cooks bacon for you. And it looks cool to boot.

I think I would like some bacon, please. The only thing that would concern me is that I’ve been buying nitrate-free (or is it nitrite-free? whatever the bad stuff is) bacon out of respect for young Bisqui, and the package states very clearly that you must keep it well-refrigerated. I think leaving raw bacon out all night might not be so great.

Maybe I could make some nice toast with it.


Spider friend

Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:52 pm

Look who I found hanging around the Executive Swirl.

Chipotle below me and within me

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:18 pm

There’s a brand new Chipotle restaurant downstairs from my office, and today they were giving away free burritos to building employees.

I have a general bias against Chipotle, because 1) I’m loyal to Panchero’s, which is a locally-owned joint with a similar set-up (custom-made burritos and tacos), and 2) Chipotle is owned by McDonald’s. I’m not against McDonald’s any more or less than any other international giant, but I do try to support local businesses.

However, a free burrito is a free burrito.

The one I had was pretty good, and they have an admirable commitment to using humanely-raised animals for their meat products and using recycled materials for bags and napkins. Some people don’t like Chipotle because they use a lot of cilantro, but I love cilantro so that’s okay with me. They had a nice variety of ingredients and toppings.

My coworkers and I have reached the consensus that we’ll stick with Panchero’s except when the weather is truly awful (we don’t have to go outside to get to Chipotle) and we deeply need burritos.


It takes guts

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:45 pm

I was in a meeting this afternoon, and the other attendees were mostly men in their 40’s.  My belly looked the same as theirs.

So that’s how to succeed in the IT world!



Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:55 pm

It is unseasonably cool out, which is kind of refreshing for the time being, but if it continues, I’m going to start missing summer.

I don’t even remember what my cold-weather shoes look like.  I should take a look at those and see if they’re still any good.  It seems like every year I buy a pair of work shoes, and they last about a year.  Maybe I kick stuff too much.


Probably not.  I have, however, taken names on occasion.

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