Monday, February 25, 2013

The return of Mah Jongg!

My mom and I had a regular Mah Jongg group that met monthly back before and when I was pregnant with Our Little Helper. After he was born it became more and more challenging to meet up, especially since we were meeting on a week night. We decided to put together a new group last fall, but a broken leg by one of the ladies created more delays in scheduling until she conceded that her recovery wouldn't really allow her to play with us. I asked a married friend of mine who I seldom get to see since so that we could have a regular date if you will.
I learned to play Mah Jongg the Wright Patterson way, but my mom's friend prefers Chinese rules so that is what we are going to do with this group. This makes it a little bit easier since it is essentially gin rummy with tiles instead of cards. The big difference is that they keep score which me and Mrs. F have never done.
I thought it would be nice to set up the card table in the Parlor. I used a vintage chinosiere table cloth that was my great aunt's; I really ought to have ironed it first. This Mah Jongg set Mr. W brought me back as a souvenir from a business trip to Malaysia several years ago.
He happened to go on a business trip to Japan all last week and brought back a case of these seasonal KitKat. The chocolate is mixed with green tea powder and they have the flavoring of cherries. They taste so much better than they sound. I wish he had brought several more cases!
We met mid afternoon and I served Chinese chicken salad and pot stickers. After yesterday's trip to the Chinese Gardens we seem to be having quite the Chinese New Year celebration, but I hadn't even realized the timing when we set this date for Mah Jongg!
I'm so glad to be regularly playing  Mah Jongg again,!

Friday, February 15, 2013

St. Valentine's Day Dinner

On our very first St. Valentine's Day together Mr. W and I made fondue at his house. It has been our tradition ever since to have fondue at home.  I signed up to be one of the mom's who helped with the St. Valentine's Day party at Our Little Helper's school today. His teacher had asked parents to bring in any books if we had them, I ended up being the only one with a book so I read our copy of Robert Sabuda's Saint Valentine aloud to the class. I also used it as decoration for our dinner table. I also treated myself to some cut tulips from TJ's & Freddy's. I reused the pink candle from the baby shower.

Helping Momma set the table.

I made the traditional Swiss fondue this year, I didn't plan well enough in advance to look up ingredients for a different recipe before leaving the house for the day.  That's okay though, because the traditional recipe is always delicious.
OLH really loves fondue. Trying to retrieve a piece of lost bread.
 With my two little Valentines.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

18 weeks

Eighteen weeks yesterday and I'm starting to feel little baby flutters. I'm surprised it is happening exactly on schedule, but it is certainly fun to feel movement again. Last night we went to a masquerade ball put on by Our Little Helper's school. I rarely dress up these days, but I finally feel like I look pregnant, not just bloated so we took a picture.
I didn't sleep very well the night before last and as I lay in bed awake contemplating upcoming Lent I had an epiphany on what I ought to give up this year. The internet!  Usually I make a dietary change for Lent, after giving up alcohol routinely during my early twenties, but Mr. W doesn't like me restricting my diet while I'm pregnant.  In years past he has volunteered to take one for the team buy giving up meat or something, but ha made no offers yet this year. I thought it was sweet when he suggested it in the past, but I don't feel like I ought to rely upon it. Besides, I need to make some sort of sacrifice. It occurred to me that I spend far too much time online, mostly social media forums, and I neglect my chores and projects. It is a real easy trap to fall into when one is pregnant and not feeling in normal working order anyway. Now that I've made this decision I'm starting to get scared. like maybe I really am addicted to the internet and it will be too hard to give up? So I'm going on an internet binge this weekend, reading all my forums and message boards to get my fill before I purge myself for 6 weeks. Yikes, that seems like a really long time!
The only drawback to this plan is that we are down at the beach for the weekend, so I feel a little guilty camped out on the computer in a hotel room, seems like a bad idea in front of the children.

Originally we were hoping to go to Spain without the boys this summer to attend our friends' wedding. I was having flashbacks to trying to conceive our second child, when we knew we were invited to a destination wedding and weren't sure if we would be traveling with an infant, having to miss the wedding entirely, or going while pregnant. That time it ended up being the latter for us since it took 18 cycles to get pregnant. This time we'll have to miss it entirely since we're due about 3 weeks after the wedding.  Our priority was of course growing our family, but as a consolation prize we decided to plan a mid winter Hawaiian vacation.  And then we realized that after buying two furnaces last fall we didn't really have the budget for Hawai'i. So we are contenting ourselves with a long weekend at the Oregon Coast... almost as tropical as Hawai'i!  I was giggling today on the beach at my sons wearing winter coats and galoshes pitching rocks into tide pools.  Definitely not an escape from dreary winter weather, but we ARE Oregonians and this is what life on the beach is for us.

I'm also feeling a little bittersweet about this beach trip since today would have been my Dad's 63rd birthday. It was totally not Mr. W's intention to plan the beach trip around this day, it just ended up working in with his work schedule. It has been 5 1/2 years since he has been gone, and I still don't feel like I am over it yet. Pregnancy always takes me back to all those raw emotions too since he died right before my first child was born. I miss him so much.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Pink Zebra Baby Shower

My mom and I threw a baby shower for one of my cousins. She's having a girl and mentioned at Christmas that the baby was going to have a safari theme nursery. Even though I don't like pink myself, I always see pink zebra stuff everywhere so I thought it would be a fun modern theme for her shower.
After doing a lot of searching online this is the pink menu we decided upon
  • pinwheel sandwiches of ham and cheese
  • shrimp cocktail
  • salmon mousse on cucumber slices (the same recipe used at my mom's birthday party)
  • penne alla vodka (My mom used this recipe as a guide)
  • pink grapefruit salad (I found this idea online for pink themed food, but there was no recipe. When I went to search online all I could find were nasty looking pink salads with whipped topping and cherry pie mix. Yuck! So I just threw together the ingredients that were listed-canned pink grapefruit, pineapple chunks, shredded cocoanut, & cherries- into a salad bowl. Simple and refreshing.)
  • pink lemonade, coffee, tea
  • chocolate cupcakes with  pink frosting and white chocolate Hugs which look like zebra stripes
  • mini strawberry marbled cheesecakes (I used this recipe as a guide but substituted chocolate wafer cookies for the crust.)
  • assorted pink candies
 The cheesecakes deflated a little bit once they came out of the oven. I got a tip from a bumpie after the fact that if you cook them in a water bath (cupcake tin set in a baking dish filled with water) and take them out a little early one can avoid some of the cracking.
 The penne alla vodka was SO good! I should really add this to my regular rotation of mid-week dinners.
 Mr. W had a set of zebra striped place mats which I knew would be the perfect on hand item I could use in setting up the buffet table. nI used a plain black tablecloth I bought in October and arranged the place mats as a table runner. My mom has lots of safari souvenirs from a trip my parents took to Africa in 2000, so we used a few of those as decoration in addition to her cheetah print serving plates and bowls.
I was going to buy some pink zebra plates and napkins on line, but I found a cute set at Lipman's that incorporated everything I wanted, plus the line had baby shower bingo cards that fit into the theme. I love it when I can support a local business and save myself shipping costs!
I did do one crafty-ish thing. Stealing from an idea I saw online, I wrapped two tin cans with pink zebra striped duct tape and used them as silverware holders.
My cousin's MIL made her this pretty pink baby blanket
 My Little Helper was invited to a classmate's birthday party so Baby Boy ended up having to stay home with me. Fortunately he napped during part of the shower, but when he woke up he was thrilled to have so many cupcakes and goodies on the table, not to mention grandma's willing to feed him treats.  Makes a boy so thirsty he ends up double fisting!
 Two year olds take the BEST pictures, so willing to smile and look at the camera!
 My cousin and me, both pregnant and rockin' the animal prints.