Saturday, March 30, 2013

Sibling love

This new baby is in high demand among her siblings. They have to take turns waiting in line. She really likes to be held, so it's usually a win-win for everyone.

I get plenty of snuggle time, since I'm mostly in bed still. I feel amazing, but I am making myself take it easy. My mom will be here for another week, so I'm making the most of my full-time babysitter/cook/cleaner/entertainer!

If this baby cooperates, I want to do a newborn photoshoot after lunch. We made placenta prints a few days ago. I also need to get her hand/foot prints soon.

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Friday, March 29, 2013

Q: What if the cord is around the baby's neck?

A: You unwrap it. 

I've heard so many birth horror stories ending with "...and the cord was around the baby's neck!" Most of the time, a nuchal cord is of no significance to the birth process. You simply unwrap it after the baby emerges.

I'm thinking of making another video using footage from Inga's birth, titled "What if the baby doesn't breathe right away?" Her resuscitation was slower and less aggressive than NRP protocols, though. I'd probably need to make a note of that...

Dramatic effect thanks to Igor Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" and Claude Debussy's "Reverie."

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Day 3 update

A few sneak peeks from the photographer:

Porn boobs and breastmilk poop arrived yesterday afternoon :)

I'd been editing the birth video--complete with captions, subtitles, and transitions--for the past two days. I hit "save movie" yesterday afternoon and the program crashed in the process of saving. I have to start all over now.

We still have no idea of what to name this baby. It's becoming a problem because I keep calling her Inga. Eric would like a French name, but many of them I don't like because English speakers will mangle the pronunciation and/or they sound too pretentious or too over-the-top-girly.

I'm helping this baby get used to being swaddled. She hated it at first, but she sleeps so much better at night in her "straightjacket." During the day she's free to move. We do skin-to-skin about half the time. I'd like to do more but haven't found a good clothing solution that keeps my shoulders & back warm and that can actually hold the baby in place if I need to move around. Any practical suggestions?
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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I deserve a medal!

Photo from Velvet Lotus Photography

Years ago, I received a mothering medal in a giveaway from Enjoy Birth. I was determined to remember it this time!

I've always wanted to carry one of these for when some obnoxious person says: "You don't get a medal for having a baby naturally/breastfeeding/having a home birth/(fill in the blank)."

"Yes you do!" (Whips out medal.)

Having a baby is pretty awesome. It definitely deserves a medal.

Want to buy one? Go to Moms Deserve Medals. They're only $4.95 each.
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Monday, March 25, 2013

New life

Announcing a baby girl born this morning at 11:15 am! Despite a massive blizzard, everyone (babysitter, midwife & assistants, and photographer) made it here with plenty of time to spare. She's super sweet and looks just like Inga. She's chubbier than I'm used to at 8 lbs 4.7 oz and 21" long.

I had strong but intermittent contractions all night. Once I got out of bed, labor picked up and I had a baby 4 1/2 hours later. Pushing was crazy and challenging and LOUD. You'll love the birth video!

Videos, birth story, and amazing professional photos coming soon...for now enjoy these snapshots that Eric and I took.

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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Pregnancy: Month 9

Thanks to everyone for sending your Blessingway beads & wishes! I had so many different kind of beads, from large pendants to tiny faceted stones to charms. Instead of trying to figure out how to attach them all to one necklace, I had another idea: turn them into a quilt square! I had an old formal dress made of wine velvet from my high school days (I usually don't hang onto things, but for some reason had never donated this one). Perfect for this project! I embroidered three "chains" out of silver thread and then attached the beads. And the best thing is that I can continue to add new beads when/if they arrive.

So, this square is named "Beads" in honor of my ninth month of pregnancy

The finished birth quilt will have 3 more squares on the bottom row for the birth & postpartum period, bringing it to a total of 12 (3 wide, 4 high). I sewed the 9 together already and might even start quilting them together with the batting & backing fabric. It's always easier to get things done before the baby's here.

I also put everyone's Blessingway cards & letters into this baby's memory book. Remember how my family usually does Christmas crafts? This year we made handmade books. It's a great way to spend the evenings once the kids are in bed. The adults get to talk while our hands keep busy. I made two memory books: a leather-bound Japanese stab binding book with multicolored paper for Inga, and a Coptic-bound book for this new baby.

Since I'll be putting pictures and cards in, I put inserts between each page to account for the extra bulk once the books are filled.

I've really enjoyed reading your words of encouragement and support as my labor draws nearer.

I was awake for a few hours early in the morning with very strong, but sporadic, contractions. I wondered if they'd turn into labor, but once I got up they fizzled out. I did have some clear mucous for the first time--the kind I've always seen when my labors began. So no action for the moment, but it's definitely drawing nearer.

My mom is in the area, helping another sister who lives an hour away pack & move cross-country. So she's ready to come as soon as I need her.
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Friday, March 22, 2013

40 weeks pregnant

Time to come out, baby! I'm not going to evict you, but I'm ready whenever you are.

I'm pretty confident of which month I got pregnant, but I could be off my several days within that cycle. Since I likely conceived following an early miscarriage, I don't know exactly when to start counting the new cycle. I spotted for a week (when I would normally have had my period), then bled heavily for 9 more days. I'm counting my cycle as beginning when the heavy bleeding began--1 week "late" for my period. I also took a pregnancy test that day and it was negative...but of course it's an inexact science! I had a spot of bright red bleeding (implantation bleeding perhaps?) 19 days into my cycle, then 3 days of spotting starting at 28 days in. I confused this at first with a period, but retrospectively I don't think it was one.

All this meandering detail to say: I might be 40 weeks along...but I could be 39 and change or some other number close to 40. Not really sure!

I'm sleeping super well, and that has made a remarkable difference with this pregnancy compared to Inga's. I wake up about every hour to flip over, but I fall back asleep right away. I've also been taking naps most afternoons. I feel deliciously well-rested. With Inga I was going crazy with sleep deprivation the last two months.

So my Excel spreadsheet loving self made a graph of my fundal height and weight gain this pregnancy. You can clearly see the growth spurt in my 2nd trimester.

Here's the real-life belly:

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Sling winner

Adrienne Caldwell, you won the ombré linen sling! Please email me with your address and sling size.

Thanks to everyone for your letters & phone calls to Hudson Hospital.
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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Infant scale recommendations

I have an infant scale sling customer looking for a good hanging scale for weighing newborns. She's willing to buy either a digital or mechanical scale. She tried this mechanical scale from In His Hands, but it failed on two points:
  • the hook was too small to hold both rings on the infant scale sling
  • it didn't zero out (tare) to account for the weight of the sling

I'd like recommendations for a good hanging scale that goes up to 12-15 lbs, shows increments of 2 oz or less, zeros out, and can hold a pair of aluminum rings. (The last thing is negotiable, since you could always attach a larger "S" hook or carabiner to the scale hook.)

Thanks for your help!

Red Bloom infant scale sling with red rings

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Kitchen tour

Remember when Eric went to a conference when I was 38 weeks along? Well, I pulled a fast one on him and repainted the kitchen. We were planning on painting it anyway, but I changed colors last minute and added a few surprises.

Our original plan was to paint the walls a soft gray that matched the marble subway tiles we installed last month. But when I started painting, it felt like I was inside a cold, concrete cell. So I switched to the same color I used in the living room: Sherwin Williams Copen Blue. It has a different feel in the kitchen and still goes with the tile & countertops without being too "matchy."

Closeup of the marble subway tile backsplash (in stock at Home Depot). We kept the solid-surface Corian countertops--no point in replacing something so expensive.

Then I cleared out the bookshelves above the microwave, which had been filled with cookbooks and small appliances. This was a perfect place to add some color. Desiree had the idea of doing an ombré effect. I chose a raspberry/coral color and bought 5 sample jars (from lightest to darkest: Behr's Fading Rose, Primrose Garden, Bridesmaid, Dragon Fruit, and Cherry Wine, color line #130). I skipped a tone between Fading Rose and Primrose Garden. I ended up mixing equal parts of those two for the second lightest shelf because the Primrose Garden was too dark. I still need to cut & paint the top shelf...

The kitchen is now 95% done. There are just a few little tasks left--find a new track light, touch up the paint on the trim & cabinets, and paint the yellow radiator white once the heating season is over.

Now the fun part: before pictures

Compare the end result with how it looked when we bought it: garish yellow walls, fruit wallpaper border, Roman shades with fruit fabric, white backsplash tiles painted with fruit, and older appliances. The cabinet hardware was antique brass. Notice the handles shaped like knives, forks, and spoons. Too kitschy for me. I replaced them with brushed nickel hinges & stainless steel pulls. We refinished the wood floors before we moved in.

The realtor and I (and 5-week old Inga!):

Fruit is everywhere!!!

And pictures of the work in progress, so you remember that it looks really bad before it starts looking good again. I removed the small backsplash piece on the Corian countertops, and it looks so much better with the marble tile going all the way down the wall to the counter.

Thanks to my brother Garrett for his help with taping & painting!
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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Pregnancy: Month 8

I'm trying to get the rest of my quilt squares posted soon, in case I go into labor and have a baby. I would have had Zari a week ago and Dio a day it could be any time. Of course I could have almost 2 weeks left if it were Inga.

For my 8th month of pregnancy, I created a quilt square with chevrons in roughly the same tones as my Blessingway invitation. This quilt will be made only with supplies I already have on hand. It's a great way to reduce my fabric stash. I named it "Blessingway."

Sewing chevrons is a pain. And even though I cut very long strips of fabric and kept a shallow angle, I barely was able to make the square big enough. I had a few other colors that were part of the original piece, but there was no room to include them on the top and bottom.

We picked up our car today. It took a lot longer than we had imagined. Poor kids were in the car(s) all day. They each got a huge balloon at the dealership, so that kept them content on the way home. Eric drove the Mazda5, and he says it definitely handles like a car rather than like a minivan. I believe the adjective he used to describe it was "zippy."

Buying this car was a real act of faith for me--faith that I am really, truly going to have a baby, hope that all will go well. It seems really audacious to imagine that I am really going to have another child! And who knows, maybe it will be quite soon. I've been having lots of crampiness and some decent, though irregular, contractions. Nothing like labor, but there's definitely stuff happening. 
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Friday, March 15, 2013

Pregnancy: Month 7

I had a hard time figuring out what to do for month 7 (January) and 8 (February). Unlike all the milestones of early and mid-pregnancy, these months were just more of the same. Baby's moving--still. My belly is nice and round--still--just getting bigger.

So for my seventh month of pregnancy, I decided to pick one of the silhouettes I'd made and turn it into a quilt square. It's called "Navel Gazing."

How I made this quilt square:

First, I held paper up to my computer screen and traced the silhouettes. Then I cut them out of black linen with an ivory linen background. Normally I'd use two-sided fusible web for attaching the appliques to the fabric, but I ran out. So I sealed the cut edges with Fray Check and stuck the pieces on with glue sticks & pins. Not the most elegant way to do it, but it works. Finally, I attached the appliques to the background fabric with a narrow zig-zag stitch around all the edges.

The hair and fingers were really tricky to cut out and sew around. But worth the effort!
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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Car update

Looks like we'll be buying a new (to us) car! We've scoured every possible option for 6-7 passenger vehicles, from importing a Chevy Orlando (can't be done because it's missing a knee airbag somewhere), to bringing something over from Europe (great idea, but we don't have time to look for a car overseas right now), to investigating other possibilities like a Kia Sorento with 3rd row seats. We started our search with a Mazda5 in mind, and that's ultimately what we'll end up buying.

For a while we were really excited to buy a 2011 or newer Sorento (2 wheel drive, 4 cyl). Their mileage is as good or better than a Mazda5, they seat 7 people instead of 6, and they have more space. But it turns out that the manual transmissions do not come with 3rd row seats. And the automatic Sorentos are lots more expensive, enough to put them out of the running. We called several dealerships and the Kia corporate headquarters to find out if we could install 3rd row seats in a 5-speed Sorento. We got just about every possible answer, from "definitely no" to "definitely yes" to "we have no idea." But ultimately the answer seems to be no.

So for now, we'll be driving a zippy 2010 Mazda5 5-speed. We put a deposit on it and will be picking it up--if I don't go into labor--on Saturday. It's at a dealership a few hours away. It has just 26,000 miles and is priced really competitively. It looks like this:

Biggest downside: we'll have less storage space than our VW Golf. Even a larger grocery trip will mean putting bags on the front seats and under the kids' feet. (Mazda has added an additional foot of trunk space in the past year or two, so newer models do have more cargo space.)

But our long-term car plan is awesome:

We'll be living in France from summer 2014 - summer 2015 during Eric's sabbatical year. We'll shop around for our dream car (6-7 passenger, compact, manual transmission, diesel) and import it at the end of our stay. Import/shipping fees seem to be around $1500. Definitely worth it if we buy, say, a gently used VW Touran with BlueMotion technology. The Touran gets 51 US mpg combined (42 city / 57 highway). And isn't it cute?

ps--I received a few inquiries from people interested in buying our 2003 VW Golf. As soon as we purchase this new car, we'll be ready to sell the Golf. I just need to give it a good cleaning so I can take photos!
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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Press Release: Protections for mothers are under threat

For Immediate Release
March 13, 2013

Contact: Cristen Pascucci
Phone: (443) 622-2892 and International Cesarean Awareness Network Address Threats to Rights of Pregnant Women

With protections for mothers under threat, advocacy groups call for solutions

San Diego, CA–Maternity care advocacy groups speak out on the heels of last week’s public cases of a Florida mother threatened with law enforcement to compel a quicker Cesarean and of “Mother A” in Ireland, the woman taken to court by her hospital to force birth by surgery.

“We’re concerned that we’re hearing from more and more pregnant women about what seems to be a growing disregard for their rights; commonly, this means denials of informed consent and refusal, but we’re seeing more extreme cases of legal coercion. In the last few months, women in Pennsylvania, New York, Oregon, Maine, and Washington have reached out to us with pleas for help against threats of police involvement and court-ordered surgery,” said Dawn Thompson, president of

Christa Billings, president of International Cesarean Awareness Network, urged, “It’s a dangerous situation for moms and babies when a cooperative, trusting relationship between patients and providers is undermined. It gives doctors the power to decide when and how you give birth—not necessarily based on your circumstances, but on things like practice preferences, opinion, scheduling, convenience, and legal liability concerns.

Legal protections for women in pregnancy and birth are the same as for non-pregnant people—including constitutionally based rights to privacy, physical integrity, autonomy, informed consent, and the rights to refuse treatment and surgery. These rights are foundational in constitutional democracies, including the United States. The fundamental human right of a woman to decide how, where, and with whom she gives birth was affirmed in the landmark 2010 Ternovszky vs. Hungary decision by the European Court of Human Rights.

“Healthcare decisions are for the individual to make. When we contract with our providers for their expert advice and skill, we do not trade in our basic rights to informed consent and refusal of treatment and surgery,” said Cristen Pascucci, Vice President. “Then, when our medical and legal systems join forces against women and their autonomy, what follows is the systematic undermining of women’s ability to protect themselves and the babies they carry. Allowing policy that removes mothers as the representatives of their babies, based on a broad assumption that anyone but the mother is more invested in her and her baby’s safety and well-being, is troubling.”

Ms. Billings added, “Hospital Cesarean rates in the U.S. range from 7% to 70%–a variance largely due to provider preference, not patient diagnosis. While Cesarean surgery can be life-saving for mother and baby, it is major abdominal surgery which is not without significant health risks for both the woman and her child. These choices should be discussed and decided on together by both the mother and health care provider, not via coercion by the care provider. Women truly care for their babies and want to make the best evidence-based choices for their care.”

According to Dr. Nick Rubashkin, staff obstetrician and chair of the Perinatal Quality Committee at St. Luke’s Hospital in San Francisco: “The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Committee on Ethics clearly states that using the law to punish maternal decisions … has no place in prenatal care. Now is an opportunity for departments of obstetrics and gynecology across the country to take a good look at whether their policies and procedures need improvements to be consistent with ethical guidelines.”

“We call on ACOG and other organizations to reiterate their ethical guidelines concerning patients’ rights—especially in maternity care,” said Ms. Thompson. “And then, it’s time for mothers to be brought to the table as stakeholders in this discussion. We can’t wait any longer for solutions.”

About: is a national nonprofit run by and for mothers, to advocate for evidence-based maternity care and humanity in childbirth. Last year, its first annual Labor Day rally to raise awareness around these issues brought out almost 10,000 women and their families in 46 states in the U.S.; this year’s rally is on track for twice as many locations and participation in other countries around the world.

The International Cesarean Awareness Network, Inc. (ICAN) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve maternal-child health by preventing unnecessary cesareans through education, providing support for cesarean recovery, and promoting Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC). ICAN is the only international mother-to-mother support organization with chapters in over 200 locations worldwide, where we hold educational and support meetings for people interested in cesarean prevention and recovery.

For more information on Cesarean section, see Childbirth Connection’s comprehensive “Cesarean Section: What you need to know about C-section
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Monday, March 11, 2013

Support patient autonomy & breech birth (and win a sling!)

Last week, Hudson Hospital in Hudson, WI (near the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area) instated a new patient care policy that forbids vaginal breech birth and appears to deny obstetric patients, including home birth transfers, the right to refuse treatment.

Here's the new policy announcement, released March 7:

Hudson Hospital & Clinics is committed to achieving the Triple Aim in our service to patients and families. We are dedicated to providing excellent patient experiences while delivering quality care at an affordable cost.

We have consistently experienced growth in our Birth Center volumes each year and want to ensure on-going safe patient outcomes for both mothers and newborns. It has been decided jointly by medical staff leadership and hospital administration to suspend vaginal breech deliveries immediately and these patients will be delivered by cesarean section.

Medical interventions will be employed, when needed, on all mothers and newborns, including transfers in, to assure the safety of the mother and newborn. This practice is in alignment with national medical standards of care and consistent with other hospitals in the region.

Gail Tully of Spinning Babies has been corresponding with an obstetrician who currently works at Hudson and has been offering vaginal breech births, VBAC, and vaginal twins for many years. She confirmed that the ban on vaginal breech births was an administrative policy decision and occurred despite no bad outcomes and no physician sanctions.

In the meantime, women in the Twin Cities area seeking physiologic breech birth, VBAC, or vaginal twins can work with Dr. Dennis Hartung at Woodwinds Hospital in Woodbury, MN.

If you'd like to express your disappointment with these new policies and your support for patient autonomy, please contact Hudson Hospital. Even if you don't live near the Twin Cities, make your voice heard. Let's get women from all over the country--and all across the world--urging Hudson Hospital to reinstate vaginal breech birth and uphold patient autonomy. This may be a small hospital, but the new policy has a HUGE significance for the rights of childbearing women.

Gail Tully commented: "Robbi Hegelberg (715-531-6012) and the other board members need to hear why we won't be referring hospital birthing parents to Hudson any longer and that refusing informed consent and informed refusal is in violation of a woman's right as a patient and as a human being. Volumes of mail, calls, emails, and social network posts will make a difference."

Who to contact: 

Robbi Hegelberg
Hudson Hospital
405 Stageline Road
Hudson, WI 54016

Talking points:
  • Patients have a right to informed consent, which includes the right to refuse treatment--including cesarean for breech presentation.
  • Refer to Hudson's Patients Rights and Responsibilities (PDF), which states:
  • Except in emergencies, the consent of the patient or of the patient’s legally authorized representative shall be obtained before treatment is given.
    All patients have the right to be informed concerning their continuing health care needs, course of treatment, prognosis for recovery, and alternatives to meet these needs in terms the patient can understand.
    Any patient may refuse treatment to the extent permitted by law and is informed of the medical consequences of the refusal.
  • If you live in the area, let Hudson Hospital know you will be taking your business elsewhere.
  • The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' Committee on Obstetric Practice issued the following recommendation on vaginal breech birth in 2006: "The decision regarding the mode of delivery should depend on the experience of the health care provider...Planned vaginal delivery of a term singleton breech fetus may be reasonable under hospital-specific protocol guidelines for both eligibility and labor management." A blanket ban on vaginal breech birth, especially when there are trained, experienced physicians willing to offer breech birth, goes against this recommendation.
Win a sling!

If you contact Hudson Hospital expressing your concerns about this new policy, you can enter to win this hand-dyed linen ombré sling. Let's make it clear that we care about patient autonomy and access to vaginal breech birth!

Rules of entry:
  • Contact Hudson Hospital by Monday, March 18.
  • Leave a comment letting me know you've contacted Hudson Hospital. Feel free to include details of how the conversation went, copies of your letter, etc. 
  • One additional entry if you share this call to action on Facebook, Twitter, your local birth network, etc. (new comment, please). 
  • Open to anyone, anywhere in the world. (Non-US residents are kindly asked to pay shipping costs.)
  • Winner will be chosen on Tuesday, March 19.
Read more ...

Sunday, March 10, 2013

38 weeks pregnant

Am I ready for the big stretch? I would have said no a week or two ago. But my living room is done. My kitchen is also redone (thanks to some help from my little brother, who was here over the long weekend while Eric was away). My birth space is set up and the birth pool is inflated. I feel mentally open to the idea of laboring. I don't know if you can ever be totally prepared for birth, because you don't know what labor is going to throw at you. But I'm about as ready as I can be.

So want to hear some of the worries I have late in pregnancy? Of course there's the worry whether or not the baby will make it. Will the baby be born healthy? Will it have a major health problem or malformation? What if I have a persistent posterior presentation and need to transfer/have an epidural/a cesarean/whatever? (I only think about this last one because this baby loves to hang out posterior. Of course, so did Dio and Inga and I had zero problems with positioning or pushing during their labors.) 

Eric just got back from his conference this evening, so I can have the baby any time now. Eric said, "tonight would be great; I'd really love to cancel class tomorrow!"

My belly just started showing from side to side over the past 2 weeks. It's still really cute and compact, sticking straight out. Total weight gain is around 22 lbs. I'm measuring exactly on target at 38 cms. Blood pressure is still low (last reading was around 95/65). I wonder if that's why I get dizzy so easily, especially when I'm painting on a stepladder with my arms above my head. Once my brother got here, my mom made me promise to have him go on the ladder. I complied (mostly).

We still haven't found a car. The nice thing about living in the middle of town is that we really don't need a new car right away. It's pretty rare that we all drive somewhere together, except to go to church. We're still looking for a manual Mazda5, but they are almost impossible to find. We also discovered that the 2011 and newer Kia Sorentos were redesigned and get even better gas mileage (21/30 mpg) than the Mazda5. They come with optional 3rd row seats. What we're trying to find out--and none of the dealerships can give us a clear answer--is whether you can install 3rd row seats on the manual Sorentos. The manuals were never sold with the option of 3rd row seats. Is there a structural difference between the automatic and manual models? So far, no one can give us a good answer.

Still, I'm super frustrated at the lack of real choices for 6-7 passenger vehicles. Did you know that VW was going to sell their Touran here, but decided not to? It's a minivan that gets up to 61 mpg combined? And this is just one of many other 6-7 passenger vehicles that get between 45-55 mpg. The Chevy Orlando--sold in Canada but not in the US--comes in a diesel version overseas that gets up to 47 mpg on the highway. (How? diesel technology + manual transmission.) Count yourself lucky if you live in Europe or the UK--or anywhere outside North America, for that matter.
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Saturday, March 09, 2013

Giveaway winners!

Anna of Michigan, you won a Vespa & the Ladybird Post Pregnancy Belly Wrap!

Sacha of Calgary, AB, you won a copy of Sam Thomas' novel The Midwife's Tale: A Mystery!

Please email me your address within 48 hours. Enjoy!
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Friday, March 08, 2013

Tree of life chocolate tart

For the gathering last Sunday, hosted by some women from my church, I made a dark chocolate tart. I decorated it to look like a tree of life (or placenta, depending on which frame of mind you're in). The white chocolate was runnier than it should have been, so all of the intricate swirls flowed outward more than they should have. Oh was still really delicious.

 I let Zari and Dio "decorate" the other tart. It looked...well...not so appetizing when they had finished. I swirled a knife through it a few times and it improved remarkably.

Here's the recipe, from the American edition of Larousse Gastronomique:

Dark Chocolate Tart:
4 oz (100 g) dark chocolate (60-70% minimum)
4 oz (100 g or 1/2 cup) butter
1/2 cup (50 g) flour
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
3 eggs

Melt chocolate and butter together and stir. Add the other ingredients and mix until smooth and shiny. Bake at 350F in a greased & floured tart pan or round cake pan for 20 minutes. Let cool.

1/2 cup cream
3 oz (80 g) dark chocolate
1 Tbsp (10 g) butter

Bring cream to a boil and stir in chocolate and butter until fully incorporated. Spread on top of cooled tart.
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Thursday, March 07, 2013

Living room tour

We painted our living room last Saturday--right in time for a party the next day, thrown for me by some women from my church. The original color was a peach-tan. Not my thing.

The hardest part of picking paint colors was the original green fireplace tile. I wasn't necessarily trying to match the tile, but a surprising number of colors definitely clashed with it. We ended up going with a new color last-minute that was a compromise for both of us...but we're liking it more and more. It's Sherwin Williams "Copen Blue" and is a medium-pale robin's egg blue, with a good amount of green.

I fell in love with this house as soon as I walked into the living room and saw the south-facing French doors. There's a matching set of French doors in the dining room on the north side of the house.

See the horrid garish yellow in the entry hall (through the door on the right)? I'm not opposed to yellow, but this is a harsh, greenish tone and must go. Any color ideas? I already have lots of blues & greens & grays in this house, so I'm wanting something different. It's a big space--more of a full room than entryway--and includes the main staircase. The trim is painted white.

I won't go into the details of how many paint samples we tried and Eric's last-minute bid at painting the living room a garish orangey-red (yes, really). I'm just so happy to have the room done. We have a set of 4 large black-and-white engravings to hang above the piano, plus a few other smaller things for the other walls. Oh, and I still need to repaint the radiators. But that's minor compared to what we've done already. The end is in sight!

This picture was taken at the piano looking into the library. You can see part of our gallery wall--still in progress!

"Before" color. Not horrible, but not amazing either.

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Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Master bedroom tour

I've been in high gear getting house projects done before the baby arrives. Over Christmas break, we repainted the master bedroom. The "before" color was an awful gray/brown/olive green. It was really dark and drab, a non-color that sucked the life out of the room.

I wanted something really calm and soothing and fresh. I tried tons of greens, aiming for a shade that was not sage and not minty. Sherwin William's "Shagreen" ended up being the perfect color. It's even more vibrant in real life.

You can see into the master bathroom on the left. It has a large jacuzzi tub/shower, toilet, and sink.

I'm not necessarily set on using the duvet & curtains long-term. I made them when was desperate for something to cover the bed & windows (before we had blinds), and the fabric was discounted to only $2/yard. It's growing on me, though.

I love the light fixture. I bought the same one for our library downstairs. It used to be on Amazon for around $100, but I couldn't find it the last time I checked. The crib was $10 secondhand and has all of my birth supplies. You can see Dio's birth quilt on the antique rocking chair. I'm going to mount it in our upstairs hallway.

The birth pool will go along this large wall between the bedroom & closet doors. 

I bought an old frame at a thrift shop, took out the glass, and spray painted it white. A line of hooks across the top turned it into a necklace holder. The dresser is from an antique store in Iowa City, where I did my PhD. I bought the shalwar kameez and dupatta on Ebay years ago for $20. They're made of hand-embroidered silk. Back when I was an A-cup, I could just barely squeeze into the top. There's no way I can get into it now! It was a great Halloween costume or fun party outfit...

ps--I just found "before" pictures from the real estate listing.

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