Thursday, March 27, 2008

More Mundane Details

Last Friday after my ultrasound, D and I got a ton of things done--it's amazing what you can accomplish when you take a day off of work! First we went to Calico Corners to look into ordering custom valances for the living room and the dining room. Given that I had ambitions of sewing valances for the kitchen and the bedroom and haven't even opened up the sewing machine, I decided that having valances made was going to be worth the money. I had looked at non-custom valances, but didn't find anything in the right colors/patterns.

So, we walked around looking at fabrics for the family room and came to one that we liked--it took a little while and I wasn't 100% sure about it. I was, however, 100% sure about the fabric for the dining room--I had seen it the week before and fell in love with it. I'll have to scan the swatch and post it. It's so perfect for that room! Well, I knew custom valances were going to be expensive, but I was pleasantly surprised that they weren't as bad as I had thought. The dining room ones were a bit steep, but the rug I bought for that room was pretty cheap, so I didn't feel too bad about spending on the valances--plus it would mean the room would be finished (except for artwork). Here's a picture of the new chandelier! I called on Tuesday to order the dining room valances (I still wasn't 100% sure on the family room fabric), and it turns out the estimate she gave me was for only ONE valance, not two. Talk about sticker shock--double the price!! No way! So now I've got to go back to Calico Corners and get the name, etc. of the fabric (or buy some) and have someone else make the valances for that room. I ended up ordering the family room ones from Fabric Place and saved almost 30% off of what Calico Corners was going to charge.

After Calico Corners on Friday we headed out to look at bedroom furniture again. We had narrowed it down to 2 sets, and just wanted to double check one more store. We went to Cherrystone Furniture in Littleton which has both a showroom and a factory. We've been in there a few times before and really like their stuff. Because it was a Friday the owner had lots of time to spend with us and really showed us the difference in quality between their custom work and the furniture from Woodforms, one of the other manufacturers we were looking at. There was no comparison in quality--the other manufacturer has nice stuff (also New England made), but his was much nicer. The construction was better (all drawers dovetailed front and back), 3/4" side and back, drawers all solid cherry, drawer fronts made of 1 plank and matched across the 2 drawers on the front of the dresser, smooth cabinet style glides. Plus, he could add doors to the front of the nightstands which is a big plus for me--it means I can hide stuff!

The thing was that this furniture was even more expensive than another set from Copeland which we had already decided was going to be a stretch. The guy at Cherrystone was familiar with the other furniture and insisted that his was better quality. I told him that the price was just too much for us. I actually had with me a piece of paper with the prices of the Copeland furniture on it and this ended up being a huge advantage. He said he really wanted to sell us the furniture because he knew we would be loyal customers (we need an entertainment center and like the ones there), so he ended up selling us his furniture for the same price as the Copeland -- a savings of about 25%. Nice! I'll write a review when the furniture actually arrives (the end of May/beginning of June), but I was very happy with the sales experience. It pays to be an informed customer!

I won't bore anyone with the rest of the day, but it involved a trip to the lighting store to get pricing on some Hubbardton Forge lamps for the family room (ended up being more than I wanted to spend, so I'm going to buy some similar ones from LLBean which are also made in VT). We also had lunch at a place called Ichabod's that we hadn't been to before--they are opening soon for dinner which we will have to check out.

All in all, Friday was probably the most productive day I have had since first learning I was pregnant. The ultrasound was definitely the most exciting part, but the furniture purchase was also very exciting!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

For the Love of Food

Pregnancy does strange things to a person, not the least of which is what it does to the appetite. For the most part I haven't had a whole lot of appetite for the past few weeks, and what appetite I've had has been soothed by a rather strange assortment of foods. Oh the cravings!

The first few weeks I was pregnant I was on a fairly restricted diet of food I could put down and keep down. I ate basically the same thing every day for at least 4 weeks:

Breakfast: Cheerios and a glass of skim milk
Snack in the Car: Saltines and cold water
Morning Snack: Cottage cheese and canned fruit
Lunch: plain baked chicken breast, cold for the first 2 weeks and then hot mixed with white rice and soy sauce
Afternoon snack 1: carrots
Afternoon snack 2: Cheese stick
Drive home: Saltines and water
Dinner: varied, this was the time of day I was most able to tolerate food
Dessert: yuck--sweets do nothing for me
3am snack: graham crackers or gingersnaps with milk

I ate a ton of canned fruit at this time. I'm not sure what it was about the canned fruit, but I was really digging it. I would go to the grocery store and return with cans of peaches, pineapple, pears, madarin oranges, and tropical fruit cocktail. I couldn't get enough. I had no desire at all for fresh fruit--just canned.

The next food craving phase was macaroni and cheese. For 2 weeks I ate macaroni and cheese almost every day. I think of all the different mac and cheeses that I tried, I like the take out from Whole Foods the best. Au Bon Pain's was too soupy, the local place near work was too dry, Boston Market's was a little artificial. Whole Foods mac and cheese has breadcrumbs on top and is made with white cheese which is a huge plus in my book. I'm always suspicious of orange cheese I guess because we never ate it growing up and going to school in Vermont we usually had local cheese which was white too.

In the same time frame as the macaroni and cheese phase, I discovered that I really like lemonade, but I have to water it down or it's too sweet. Even better than watering it down is mixing it with iced tea. It's still my beverage of choice.

Now, throughout this whole pregnancy I have craved beef. Not hamburgers or meatballs, but real meat that you have to cut with a steak knife. The most prevalent form this meat craving has taken is steak tips. Now, I don't know whether steak tips are just a Massachusetts thing or whether they suddenly came into vogue in 2002, but when I moved to Boston in that year it seemed every restaurant I went to (unless it was an ethnic restaurant or a fine dining restaurant) had steak tips on the menu. Basically steak tips are chunks of beef (usually sirloin) that are marinated and grilled. These days they are heaven on a plate to me.

There is a wonderful butcher shop near my house and D has stopped in a few times to get their steak tips. They have a variety of marinades, but we prefer the steakhouse marinade. These tips are expensive, but they are so good they are certainly worth paying for, especially since we only eat beef about once a week (except during grilling season when it goes up to about 3 times a week). The tips are lean and tender and have excellent flavor. Last night D made steak tips from the supermarket (the good one, not the bad supermarket) and they just weren't nearly as good. They were much fattier and didn't have the same wonderful beefy flavor and texture.

Oh, and you know what other beef is really good? The sirloin from the Whole Foods prepared food counter. I'll stop by there after work and choose some prepared salads from the salad bar and then go to the prepared food counter and ask for 4 slices of steak--usually comes to about 1/4 lb. The lady doesn't even look at me as if I'm crazy and for that I love her...but not as much as I love that beef!

This week I'm on to salads and I loathe chicken. I just ate way too much chicken in the beginning and now it has no appeal. I still have no sweet tooth. There's half a pint of Ben & Jerry's Mint Chocolate Cookie ice cream in my freezer and it's been there for at least 3 weeks. This is unheard of for me! I have lost weight in the past 4 weeks and I swear it's because I probably eat about 300 fewer calories per day just because I don't eat any chocolate or desserts. I did have a few jelly beans on Easter, but there's a Lindt dark chocolate bunny that isn't even calling my name...same thing with the Cadbury Creme Eggs. It's sad really.

This last point I want to discuss has nothing at all do to with food, but it does involve pregnancy, sort of. Mercury, the cat, has started to develop boobs. Seriously. She's got bright pink nipples and the hair on her stomach around her nipples is very thin. When she lies down on her side, it looks like she has boobs hanging out. I have never seen this before in the 5 years I have had her. Her belly isn't any plumper, but her "waddle" of belly fat does seem to be hanging down lower. The thing is, she's fixed...or at least she's supposed to be. When I adopted her from the shelter she still had the stitches from her spaying, and they gave her a little tattoo in her ear to designate that she'd been fixed. I'm hoping it's just her hormones acting up--after all, this is her first spring in the suburbs where there are other cats for her to come in contact with. The poor thing has probably been mounted by the neighbors' cats and doesn't know what's happening to her!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Big Announcement!

I haven't been doing much blog updating in the past few months--no baking, no knitting, no gardening, no sewing, no nothing. Well, I have a very good excuse...I'm 13 weeks pregnant and have spent the past 8 weeks doing nothing but gestating, sleeping, and feeling sick!

D and I went for our first ultrasound yesterday and got to see the little guy/girl punching, kicking, and moving around like crazy. He/she is only about the size of a lime (3" from top of head to bottom of butt), but has made a huge impact on our lives already (including removing my sweet tooth...I have no desire for sweets at all).

I've been feeling better for the past few days so I'm knocking on wood that I'm over the hump and will start posting again on a semi regular basis. There are lots of things to get done before baby arrives in early October, and I'm sure all be sharing all of the mundane details here!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Oh Happy Day!

It's a miracle--spring is finally coming to my neck of the woods! On Sunday there was a robin hopping around the backyard, and only about half of the yard is covered with snow!

I went out into the yard looking for daffodil shoots but I didn't find any...hopefully soon! I also assessed the damage from the deer--they chewed the Euonymous like crazy so I'll have to cut that back, and they also chewed some of the rhodedendrons, yews, and all of the vinca.