Thursday, January 31, 2008

While the cats are away

All senior management is away at an offsite today, so I arranged a pizza party for everyone else. This included a little creative party poses in our manager's offices. :-) We think we're funny.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The 100 Day Countdown!

It’s hard to believe, but we’re entering into the single digits for the arrival of Fifi/Filbert. It all still feels so very far away, even with the ever expanding belly. Brendt just keeps laughing and saying “You look so pregnant!,”. Things are coming together though. We’ve chosen a doula, signed up for child birth classes, set up most of the baby room, and started doing daycare research. As far as names, we’re starting to whittle down the list and start pairing first and middle names together. Somehow things will all come together.

I’m also trying to figure out if we can manage a long weekend away in the coming weeks. All will depend on how I’m feeling, but we’re hoping to have another few days of solo grown up time before this child makes his/her presence known.

Today we also said farewell to Katie Neuendorf who had been staying with us for 3 weeks. Last night we had a wonderful send off dinner for Katie at Lei Lounge (hooray for restaurant week!) along with our friends Lisa & Julie. It was really great getting to know her better and she was an easy house guest. She even made us dinner and played with the Westies! What more could we ask for? With any luck she and her husband George(my 2nd cousin) will be back in July of 2009 for her to do a fellowship at the San Diego Hospice.
Photo L to R: Lisa, Angie, Brendt, Katie, Julie

Tsoureki- Take 2

Ok, so here is my 2nd go at the Tsoureki.
I added 1/2 cup of sugar this time and it is pretty darned close. I think it could use a touch more sugar and a tad more mahlepi, but I was pretty pleased with this version. As you can see it is half eaten. Katie N. said that she thought I got it right. Brendt still said it needed more sugar. We'll do a side by side test on Friday to see what is the closest!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

In Search of Yiayia's Tsoureki

Thinking of family legacy and stories, I find myself thinking a lot about some of the family recipes that I want to make sure live on. One of those recipes is my Yiayia's (grandma's) Easter Bread recipe, called tsoureki in Greek. Every year growing up, we would receive a huge box of these braided sweet breads. We gave a good number of them to local family and friends, but we would still be left with a good number of loaves for ourselves. I would cherish the morning treat of toasted tsoureki with a little pat of butter on it, for as long as as they lasted.

After my Yiayia passed away in 2000, my dad began shipping boxes of the bread that the ladies at his local church make as a fundraiser. Although I love getting these loaves in the mail too, I want to make sure that this recipe doesn't become a distant memory. So, I've started my charge to learn how to make tsoureki. Let me just start by saying, although I really enjoy cooking, yeast breads have always been a challenge for me. Maybe it is that I lack the patience to knead as much as I should, or maybe it is that truly great breads rely on commercial grade ingredients and ovens. Either way, if Yiayia could do it, I'm going to give a good ole Karnoupakis try!

Today I gave my first try with a recipe that my Nona (godmother) Debbie pointed me to. I managed to find the Mahelpi (a spice made from ground wild cherry seeds) easily enough, but it was the cake yeast that evaded me. No local grocers carried the compressed yeast, so I called speciality stores and finally resorted to calling bakeries to ask(ok, begging) if I could buy some of their stock off of them. Finally, our local Jewish Deli and Bakery, D.Z. Aikens allowed me to buy 1 lb (roughly 12x what my recipe called for). Just another reason to love that place.

Here it is. Looks pretty good, right? Well, the exterior texture is a little less soft than I remember, but the interior has the right chew and suppleness to it. Unfortunately, the 3 tbsp. of sugar it called for wasn't nearly enough. I should have known that Yiayia didn't stick to a recipe. She liked to cook "until it looked right", according to my mom. Brendt and I are estimating that I should increase the sugar to 1/2 cup. I'll keep you posted as to how many tries it takes me to get the recipe right.

Why We Blog

First things first, here is the most up to date belly shot, 25 weeks.

So I've been pondering what to blog about over the past week or so and have been coming up empty handed. Other than the constant baby motion, this leg of the pregnancy is pretty uneventful. I'm feeling great, my energy is high and I'm not too uncomfortable (yet). Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to be boring in this way, but I am finding it hard to write something.

Yesterday while reading a new magazine I got, I found this wonderful article about why a woman blogs about her family "Confessions of a Mommy Blogger" http:// Some women she spoke to talked about the connection, "Being a parent is so frustratingly difficult and blindingly beautiful at the same time. Blogs remind me to celebrate the beautiful and that I'm not alone in the difficult,", while others saw the long term humor in it all, "I do picture these kids in college, turning their blogged childhoods into a drinking game, 'Everyone whose mom wrote about their diaper leaking. . .CHUG!'". Either way, I find it a way to relate the real story (sometimes very real) of this adventure we've embarked on.
When Maya(my niece) was born, I realized the importance of being around for such momentous occasions. In the lobby of the hospital there was a rich library of family stories, just like these, that were told by Ryan & Monica's parents and sister. My hope is that although many of you may not be able to be with us at the hospital lobby (don't worry, I won't be there either) that these little musings might help you feel a little closer and jog your memories as to similar stories that you might want to share with us.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Belly Watch 2008!!!

A pregnant belly button is a freakish thing indeed. Mine is ever widening as you can see in this photo.

My high school freshman English teacher was pregnant and she used to say that there was a direct correlation between happiness and the quantity of belly button lint one carried around with them. More belly button lint= more happiness. Inversely, as her belly button expanded, she was increasingly cranky. Ok, so she was a kookie one, but it made us laugh. She also told us she was going to name her child Phlegm, the choice of her husband Bubba (all lies by the way).

Things are well here. We're enjoying having a short term (3 week) roommate in Katie Neubauer, my 2nd cousin's wife. She's a doctor and doing a rotation at San Diego Hospice. She's kept pretty busy at work, but is an easy houseguest, loves the dogs (a miracle really), and even cooks for us!

The Fun of a Registry

Last week we tackled the daunting task of registering. The monster of a store that is Babies R Us was pretty intimidating but with the help of Monica and Krissy, we managed to knock out our registry in one trip. They helped us decipher the 200 different types of bottles, told us which gadgets were lifesavers and which ones were a waste of time. Thank goodness! Because the ability for an industry to play on our fears and insecurities is never more evident than in the baby products industry. How did our parents and grandparents live without a wipe warmer!?

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Happy New Year!
Hope you all had a great holiday season. We got a ton done and was able to see most of the family. In the first week off we had Mom, Jim, Katie & Josh here. They worked for three days straight on various house projects, getting FiFi/Filbert's room ready and assembling the crib. I think a conservative estimate would say that they saved us about 8 weekends worth of work. I'll send some photos as the room shapes up. It was amazing to have them here for Christmas! We had a laugh playing Katie's new Wii and even took a walk on the beach on Christmas day.

The second week of our holiday vacation, we went to Tucson to visit the Gideon/Wilson clan. The highlight of the weekend was our niece Maya's baptism. She did great! It was a long service and she got water poured over her head, but she didn't even cry. What a trooper! All and all it was a beautiful day. Here is a photo of the Gideons and one happy Maya.

Later that afternoon we went to Rocky Point, Mexico with Ryan, Monica, Maya, cousin, grandparents and aunts to enjoy New Years at the Sea of Cortez. It was wonderful to be down by the sea, even though it was a bit chilly. We were amazed at how much the whole area had changed. What was once a quiet little get away, is now a bustling resort town. Here is a photo of Brendt and I on Sandy Beach in front of Aunt Dolores's condo.

Now we're back in San Diego, trying to get our lives in order before going back to work. We're also preparing for Katie Neundorf, my cousin's wife. She's going to be staying with us for 3 weeks while she does a rotation at a local hospital.
2008 here we come!