Monthly Archives: September 2009

Because I just can’t thank them enough!

Things just got a little more gourmet in the official “Gourmet Lisa” kitchen and I am so excited about it!

Story… 

Today I was putting together dinner, split pea soup to be exact, trying to hack my way through a ham steak, shallots and some celery with one of two very dull knives that I own. Upon almost slicing my pinky finger off because my dull knife can’t handle the shallots I am contemplating how in the world I can convince Stephen to let me get one or two nice knives. How in the world I can convince him that I “need” these knives?

I have to admit that one of the small joys of babysitting my nieces a couple weeks ago was all their parents’ great kitchen gear, including a very nice set of Wüsthof knives. Now, I knew my knives were dull, but I didn’t realize just how dull until using their knives. Two days in I was completely smitten and told them so.

I was just stirring the ingredients together when there is a knock at my door and a giant package from Crate & Barrel is sitting on my doormat. Confused, I called Stephen,
“Did you order something from Crate & Barrel?”
“No.”
“Well, we just got a giant package from them addressed to us.”
“I don’t know. Maybe somebody ordered something off our old wedding registry?”
“I don’t think it even exists anymore. That was like six years ago.”
“Well maybe my mom?”
“I don’t know.”

So I start tearing into the box to find a card…

And this…

For those of you that can’t tell, that would be a cutting board, knife sharpener, knife block and FIVE Wüsthof knives!

So thank you, thank you, thank you Ruth and Eric! I am completely giddy over this really awesome surprise!

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Eye Candy Friday – Bean’s First Birthday

I didn’t actually take any of these photos, I have Ruth to thank for that. She did a good job considering the lighting in our apartment at night is really hard to work with. :) If you’re on Facebook, you can see the whole album.

I’m not really into a big production for a one-year-old. My sister planned to come up for the weekend anyway so at the last minute we also invited our in-town family and that was about it. Homemade pizza and cupcakes, then a few presents. Small and sweet.

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52 weeks in pictures.




















































Happy birthday to my sweet girl!

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On grasping at the wind.

Our culture is one driven in many ways by sex, beauty and the images of both. We’ve always heard that “sex sells” and as such nearly every product sold here is advertised by lengthy, toned and tanned models with perfect skin and hair. From a young age, I think these images shape our perceptions, especially those of us girls, of what the “ideal” is for the appearance of women and even men. As such, I don’t think the story I am about to share  is much different from most girls and women today.

From about the time I was in junior high, I began struggling with both my and others’ perceptions of my physical appearance.

Unlike the rest of the girls in my junior high, I never “shot up” and instead I remained under five feet tall well into my sophmore year of high school. These days I top out at a whopping 5’2″. I was encouraged to wear “tall shoes” to compensate. At the time platform white tennis shoes and wedges were really in. I quickly discovered the pain that comes from trying to make yourself something you are not in the form of excrutiating shin splints at the end of every day.

Next came the acne. I was nicknamed “stucco head” at the time because that was precisely what my forehead resembled.

Also unfortunate for me was that I still had a super fast metabolism. So when all the girls my age were getting perfect curves in all the right places, I was skin and bones. It used to be great fun among my friends to see who could fit a single hand around various body parts (wrist, ankle, stomach, etc.) or try and feel my ribs. Soon this changed, however, and just like all my other girlfriends the metabolism slowed down.

I didn’t exactly like the results. I was taking a ballet class at the time and one week I suddenly felt like I was twice the size of the other girls in my class. Just to put things in perspective though, I was still under 100lbs.

Around this time I remember consciously making the decision to skip a meal. Then two. Eventually, I got to the point where I could go whole days without eating. I’d tell my parents that I wasn’t hungry or that I’d already eaten. Some days they were on to me and made me eat. I hated these days. This sounds cheesy, but a Lifetime movie came on all about this girl that died from an eating disorder. So I started eating again. Because I didn’t want to die.

The struggle with my appearance in comparison to others didn’t just end there though. It was and is always there. Festering and nagging me.

My next attempt at control was vegetarianism. I knew that meats had a lot of fat in them. I figured I could make everyone happy by still eating, but eliminating meat would be an easy way to get rid of calories and fat. My parents weren’t into “special” meals though so I was often stuck with steamed veggies or salads (iceberg, tomato, carrot, shredded cheese and ranch dressing). It got old really quick. One day, I just wanted a hamburger and that was the end of my being a vegetarian.

Right around this time I was finishing high school and lot of good things were happening in my life. I had a circle of friends that came in all sorts of different shapes, colors and sizes. We were friends because we liked eachother for who we were. I was going to church and discovered that God loved me for who I am.

These, among a few other things, really started to pave the road to my learning to be OK with the way I am.

But I was (and am not) cured.

Right about the middle of my freshman year of college I got Valley Fever. As scary as this virus can be for people (mostly because of secondary infections like pneumonia), my only symptoms were a one time case of violent hives, a cyst in my lung that I didn’t really even know about until they took an x-ray, some funky blood count, extreme exhaustion and complete lack of appetite. I lost 40lbs in a month. I was scary skinny.

Once I finished up my anti-virals, gained about 10lbs back, and started remingling with the rest of the world it quickly became apparent to most other people that I saw that I “looked good.” It seemed like everywhere I went people that hadn’t seen me in awhile said that and wanted to know about my diet, fitness routine, etc.

I knew that the only reason I looked so good was that I had barely eaten anything. I knew this wasn’t healthy or a healthy way to maintain an “ideal” weight. I knew that I shouldn’t be excited about others’ perceptions of me because it wasn’t a real possibility for my body under normal conditions.

But I was happy with what they said. I was happy with the way I looked. I was happy that I could share clothes with my sisters again. That I could fit into the “skinny” jeans in the back of my closet that I never wore.

As the pounds came back on, I decided to accept that this was the way I am and I just wasn’t ever going to be as pretty or skinny as the other girls, models, actresses, etc. Besides I’d met and started dating Stephen at this point and he liked me so I figured this was just a dumb thing I had in my head I needed to get over.

When we decided to get married I went on birth control and like most women blew up like a big balloon. No amount of eating healthy or working out could combat it. So I gave up. Not having kids was more important to me than being skinny.

By the time I finally went off birth control I was wearing a size 14 and I weighed 168lbs. There were stinging comments from well meaning friends and family trying to motivate me. I knew that I was overweight for my height. I cringed at pictures of myself. It just seemed a hopeless cause.

And then I got pregnant. If you’ve read the birth story you know that I went from 168 to 136lbs in the first trimester because of all the throwing up I did. Once I started feeling better, I was again greeted by friends and family members telling me that I looked “soooo good!” and that you couldn’t even tell that I was pregnant. Other pregnant friends were jealous of my barely there tummy. And when I looked in the mirror, the double chin was gone.

Even after I had my baby people wanted to know what I was doing and they just couldn’t get over the fact that I looked so good. What to tell them? How to respond? I wasn’t doing anything. I had only gained 12lbs my whole pregnancy. I weighed less after giving birth than I did pre-pregnancy.

The thing is, I’ve never really resolved that nagging, festering mode of thought about my appearance. My last pregnancy update post on baby #2 is full of it. And this time around (for the most part) I’ve also gotten the “you look so good” comments that I don’t know how to respond to. My midwife and I jokingly refer to my “luck” at not gaining much weight as “Lisa’s pregnancy diet.”

As of this writing I currently weigh 145lbs. I started out the pregnancy at 136lbs. At my sickest point I weighed 134lbs. The only maternity pants that fit me are size 2 or small. Most of my pre-pregnancy clothes still fit me. Most of my maternity clothes from Bean are like a tent on me.

But is this something to really be proud of? Especially considering the unhealthy manner in which is was achieved? What do I really say to the people who want to know my secret? And what about the other people who think that even this is too much weight? What do you say to yourself when you feel and see huge in the mirror?

I don’t really know if I have the answer. I do know that the “ideal” we are fed through the media is not achievable for me or most other women. I know that I am tired of being compared and comparing. And honestly, I’m kind of sick of compliments on appearance in general because I don’t look “so good” or “so much better” than you or anyone else. I look like me and the way I’m supposed to look based on me being a unique individual, my genes, lifestyle, habits, diet, how much time and energy I decided to put into personal grooming that morning, etc.

“Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting…”

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10 things I learned in 10 days

1. Older kids are much more fun, but also much more drama.
2. I love having a lot of activities and a schedule to fill up my time. It keeps me focused and I get way more done than when I have “nothing” to do. Despite running around a lot, I managed to get a ton of laundry done, cook dinner 9 out of the 10 nights (a traffic jam on Friday night made a stop at In-N-Out necessary), work on my knitting project and write a few blog posts.
3. Bean really likes her cousins and being around other kids.
4. It is hard to remember to remind kids about basic hygiene until you have a stinky, bad-breath kid wanting to cuddle.
5. My “Gourmet Lisa” cooking is not kid friendly. The only nights they ate without a fight were when I made pizza and when we had In-N-Out.
6. Three kids really isn’t as bad as I thought it would be and I’m certainly feeling confident and prepared for two. After the ten days though Stephen says two is definitely more than enough.
7. I’m quite thankful that Bean is still in diapers. I think it is honestly much easier to deal with changing diapers than cleaning up missed potty accidents and planning your whole day around making sure everyone makes it to the potty.
8. Five- and three-year-olds really think bathroom humor is funny. Even girls. I don’t remember hearing the words “fart,” “bottom,” “boob(s),” “poo-poo,” and “pee” followed by hysterical giggling so much in my life.
9. It is a good idea to have someone else apply sunscreen to your back and shoulders for you. I now have a pretty hilarious tan line featuring a white hand print on either shoulder and the outline of the tank top I wore to “Lizzie’s” soccer game.
10. Even when the schedule doesn’t mention bringing something to drink, a snack and something to do, you should do it anyway. Otherwise about 10 minutes in you will be getting, “I’m hungry/thirsty/bored” and “Why is her class taking so long?”

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Jungle cable blanket – done, done and done!

Pattern: My own. Sort of a sampler of various cable patterns.
Made for: My sister’s friend, but I’m seriously contemplating keeping it for myself because ohmygosh I am in love.
Yarn and notions: 2 skeins each of Vanna’s Choice in white, dusty green, silver blue and chocolate; 1 yard flannel jungle print fabric; 2 packages of 7/8″ quilt binding in PC706
Needles: Size 8 rosewood straights, scarf length
Started: November 2008
Completed: September 2009 (though I took A LOT of breaks from this project)

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Week Fifty One

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25 weeks…

OK, I am officially huge. And I still have 15ish weeks to go. AAAAaaaaah!

Do you see my awful hair? Well, I took my crunchy, no-makeup self to Sephora and got their advice and they said to try this wave defining spray. It is supposed to define the waves without giving me the hard hold 90s gelled out perm look and control the frizz without making my head a grease ball. At $25 a bottle the stuff better work.

Also, do you see my belly button sticking out!? First of all the thing is way the heck down there and second of all that did not happen with Bean until somewhere around the last few weeks of pregnancy. Very weird. And now I kind of want to get some of those belly button hider things that Megan blogged about a really long time ago.

So, in other words, it is possible to be a little vain and be crunchy granola. The end.

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I’m surviving!

I told my sister-in-law before she left that I was actually kind of excited about this whole babysitting thing because it would give me tons of stuff to do. Have there been disgruntled siblings? Of course. Have there been missed potty accidents to clean up? Mmmhmmm. While it can be a little challenging (especially when a certain 5 year old thinks she’s the one actually in charge), it has really been a lot of fun.

For one thing, at night when I make dinner it actually makes my life a little easier because I have two wonderful entertainers for Bean. Usually, I either have a really fussy baby confined to her walker/high chair or I am picking up and carrying her out of the kitchen and over to her toys every five minutes.

My sister-in-law is one of the most organized people I know, so that has made my life especially easy. Everything is outlined perfectly for me in a very neat schedule complete with tips for various activities and outings.

Furthermore, she’s got a great network of friends and family so the girls are also hanging out with tons of other people throughout the vacation. It always seems like just when I’m getting sick of another round of “negotiations” over whether or not to play dress up, we’re off to the next activity or the girls are off to spend time with someone else.

Yesterday I took the girls to the beach for a couple hours and they had so much fun running from the waves, chasing seagulls and playing in the sand.

So I think we’ll definitely be doing this activity again sometime next week.

And then today “Lizzie” had her first soccer game.

We walked to the park, which I realized was somewhat of a mistake after I was already there, completely out of breath and having some serious Braxton Hicks. So I called up Stephen to work out having him pick us up sometime after the game in the van. He finished up work, drove out to Simi to get our AH veggies, stopped by the house to get our van, then met us at the park. In the meantime, we further supported the AYSO by eating lunch from the concession stand. Then we killed more time on the playground equipment.

Oh and my youngest niece, “Half-pint” is completely fearless, by the way:

She was even trying to jump into the sand pit from fairly high up on the equipment (NO!!!) and do those big hanging ring/monkey bar things at one point. When I took her to gymnastics yesterday, the coach was telling me about this one time that she climbed up the fire-escape ladder on the side of the giant industrial complex that houses all their equipment. The extended park time was great though because Half-pint took a two and a half hour nap when we got back. Yes!

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Darn those buns!

Recently, Megan’s mom, Susan, was completely smitten with the knitted diaper covers featured on this photography blog. She of course had visions of her sweet granddaughter in a girly blush pink knitted diaper cover. So, she asked if it would be possible for me to knit one for little Miss Kate. Seeing as I have not knit anything for Kate yet (I knit Christian a blanket way back when I first started knitting), I was all too happy to oblige her.

I scoured Ravelry for some patterns. I was not too impressed (seriously people choose some really ugly yarns sometimes and it really ruins the whole vision of the project for me), but passed my findings along to Susan to see if something appealed to her or offered to come up with my own design using Bean as a model.

Well Susan really liked a super girly, ruffle-legged diaper cover pattern I found. Despite the weird tie-die blue and green yarn the person chose for it, she was able to do more than me and envision it in a beautiful solid pink hue that would highlight all the right features of the pattern. However, I cast on and discovered that not only would the thing be way too huge, but that it was using up way too much yarn for something so tiny. I scrapped the pattern and came up with my own using some of the ideas from the other pattern and used a pair of fabric bloomers from Bean’s closet to approximate sizing.

Pattern: My own that I did not write down.
Made for: Kate
Needles: US 8 rosewood straights, US 6 bamboo DPNs
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Pure Cotton in Rose, 1 skein
Started: August 26, 2009
Completed: August 26, 2009

It was so quick and fun that I decided to make a second pair that was more like one of the ones featured on the photography blog with some different yarn.

Pattern: My own that I did not write down.
Made for: Kate
Needles: US 8 rosewood straights, US 15 plastic straights
Yarn: Lion Brand Homespun in Boston Rose, less than one skein
Started: August 26, 2009
Completed: August 27, 2009

I love the results and can’t wait to see Miss Kate in them. For now though, I’m satisfied with these photos I got of Bean modeling them prior to shipment:

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By the way, I’ve been absolutely DYING over here waiting to show off these photos and the projects ever since completion. I am seriously horrible at keeping secrets and this was very, very hard for me.

Oh and the title of this post is something Megan used to say all. the. time. I felt it was appropriate. :)

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