November 24, 2011

Things to be Grateful for

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! This has always been my favorite holiday. The only gifts exchanged are good food and the company of friends and family. What a wonderful idea to have an entire day devoted to gratitude, something we could do with more of every day (although not with the same level of feasting!). Joe and I are in Va Beach, spending the week with his dad's side of the family. On Sunday, we will be back home and gathering together with most of my family. And somewhere in all of that, Joe will find the time to complete three major papers/projects to turn in as soon as school is back in session on Monday! He's handling it all quite well, which I am thankful for. :)

I know my blog posts have been few and far between of late, but I have a good excuse. I'm three months pregnant! This has affected my blogging activity in several ways. First off, I wasn't ready to make a cyber announcement until now, and like the old adage goes - if you can't tell your most exciting news, don't tell anything at all. (Okay, I may have twisted that one just a little bit.) Secondly, pregnancy, especially the earlier weeks, has transformed me into a motionless blob with the metabolism of a shrew. Many days, the most strenuous, productive thing I do all day is making the bed, and that just doesn't seem like an accomplishment worth blogging about. To catch you up, though, here at the highlights of the past 12 weeks.

-Started out the pregnancy with a bang, or more like a whisper, when I fainted at the health clinic after they drained me of much of my blood in order to run "comprehensive bloodwork". (The nurse swears it was only a 1/4 cup or so, but I'm dubious.)
-I won't get into the full back story here, but I currently find myself on a gluten-free diet and feel compelled to stick with it till the baby is here, just to be on the safe side. This, combined with my recently developed complete lack of interest in food while simultaneously being ravenously hungry ALL THE TIME have made it difficult to feed myself. Joe can attest to the fact that I've had several complete emotional breakdowns over food. He has been a caring and patient supporter through all my emotional roller coasters, but I did have to pull out one of my pregnancy books with "Tips for Dad" and show him in black and white that you are NOT supposed to laugh at your pregnant wife. He seemed to find it funny that I was weeping over the fact that I was tired of everything tasting like rice.
-Right at 9 weeks, the whole family got to go on a short emotional roller coaster with me when I experienced a miscarriage scare. Thankfully it was just a scare, and all is well. Turns out that in addition to growing a healthy little swimmer in there, I'm also growing/hosting a giant cyst on my right ovary, so large it is shoving everything else in there over to the left. I now have medical proof for my long held theory that I am "crooked to the left".
-I'm taking advantage of all my down time to tackle reading the entire Harry Potter series straight through. I'm halfway through book four at the moment.
-I've only barfed once (there was a close call in a Kroger bathroom, but we won't count that) so far, at Joe's sister's house. It was our first time staying with her, and we'd like to be invited back some day, so we didn't let her in on this piece of information.

November 02, 2011

I recently watched a documentary movie called Gasland, a look at the environmental risks and corporate greed behind "fracking" for natural gas. If you don't already have enough things to worry about, I highly recommend it. To be fair, in searching for the movie's website, I came across this disclaimer website by the natural gas industry. Even if they are right and drilling for natural gas is nothing short of God's perfect gift to humanity, the whole question has made me even happier about our recent purchase of a solar oven from the Solar Oven Society. (Actually, the oven was a joint birthday gift from Joe's Granny!)

The solar oven hardly replaces my propane camp stove, but why not use the glorious power of the sun when it's available? I'm still new to the whole solar cooking game and have had a mix of success and failure. The failures usually occur when I expect a sunny day, put food in the oven, head off to work and the clouds roll in to stay. On the successful sunny days, I've cooked rice, quinoa, butternut squash, potatoes, onions, peppers, tomato soup, greens, even gravy. Here's a photo of a recent success - stuffed bell peppers and pineapple upside down cake.

The solar oven functions somewhat like a solar powered crock pot. I've seen mine reach temperatures of 250 degrees Fahrenheit in full sun, but with intermittent clouds, it usually hangs out more in the 180-200 degree range. This means you can fill it full of food and then head to work and dinner is cooked when you get home (if the sun cooperates). You also don't add water when cooking vegetables. They steam in their own juices. The hardest part for me is trying to think ahead to what I want for dinner before I'm even done with breakfast. I'm curious to see how winter will affect it's performance. Lisa has been using a solar oven as her only cooking source for almost a year now (she eats sandwiches on cloudy days).  During the winter, she added on the additional reflector shield and put the whole setup inside her greenhouse and kept on cookin'.

With all this talk of food, my stomach is reminding me to check the clock. Looks like it's lunch time!