Friday, August 13, 2010

Quirks

A few months back, my friend Brooke posted a blog about "quirks" and what she herself considered her quirks to be. Since that post, I've been scouring my brain for something about myself that I consider to be "strange" or "off". It's been rather difficult until last weekend. Let me set the mood for you ;).

We are always late, first of all. Always always always without fail, you can count on us to be late. And last weekend, we were late for a baptism party for my husband's cousin's baby. The party was due to end around 4 and I am pretty sure we got there after 3. We are just terrible.

Well the party was set up with a table along the wall with food and other refreshments, and obviously as invited guests, we are welcome to (if not expected) to help ourselves to the yummy stuff. My husband, of course gets up and does just that with ease. But I found myself incapable of doing it!

So here it is: My quirk consists of me being unable to stand in lines for food if I feel that people's attention may be drawn to me for an extended period of time.

What? Are you serious, Heather? Is that even really a "quirk"? I say yes. This is not the first time this has happened, nor will it be the last. And let me share with you other times this has happened...

Back in '07, I assisted my good friend Tim Sayer out with photographing a wedding. He flew me out, and I did my best. When it came to the reception, he asked for me to go and grab him and I some food, and I just could not bring myself to do it! I remember him even getting a bit upset with me, and my irrational fear of the food table. It's not that I am embarrassed (I think) or even that I think they will be upset with me for taking food. It's more of I have this overwhelming sense of what is considered "polite" or "proper" or "cordial" and these rules that are in my head only seem to apply to myself. How bizarre, right? Here is another example...

Last year while pregnant, we attended a birthday party that had a similar table spread to the baptism. I was unable to go to the table by myself, and tried to find any reason for anyone heading that direction to grab whatever I wanted for me, using being pregnant as a good excuse.

But I kid you not, I can't even go and grab a drink. Even if I haven't eaten anything all day (like at the baptism) I was still unable to grab something. I suppose I don't enjoy the thought of everyone watching me grab my food, and judging one thing or the next about me, or just looking at me in general.

So I want to know what your quirks are, and I mean a really good quirk that maybe you hadn't even thought of until reading this. I know I am not the only freaky quirky person out there... Or at least, I sincerely hope not. Do you ever feel like I do about situations like this? Share with me!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Boring Lasagna? No way!

Ok I just have to throw out there, that I am a terribly picky eater. I seriously have an issue with textures, and if something feels weird in my mouth, I just can't eat it. I find that my cooking is generally not filled with tons of different or exotic things, but rather filled with flavor through the spices I put in. My husband has some similar dislikes as I do concerning food, so he appreciates the way I cook.

Most of the cooking I do is a trial and error deal. I say "Hey Heather, what are you going to cook tonight? How about *insert any dish here*? Well I don't know how to make it really, but I'll just wing it!". And then I do. And I am more often than not pleasantly surprised.

I never learned how to cook lasagna really. My amazing step mother made it, and I loved it, but the picky eater in me didn't fully appreciate a lot of the things that was cooked into it. So when I grew up and decided I wanted to make it, I pretty much just dumbed it down a whole lot.

I don't know if I mentioned this in my enchilada post, but here in Iceland it's difficult to find a lot of ingredients, like ricotta cheese. I know that this is commonly used in lasagna, but I have never actually used it. And if it is sold here in Iceland, I haven't seen it. So I had to adjust accordingly. Here is my simple easy peasy lasagna that takes less than an hour, and it's going in your mouth.


Ingredients:
2 cans of tomato sauce
1-2 bags of mozzarella cheese
2 eggs (or 1 if you only have 1 small container of cottage cheese)
2 small containers of cottage cheese, small curds (or 1 larger one) (I forgot to buy 2)
package of lasagna noodles (I used spinach ones this time, and the ones that don't need to be precooked!)
italian spices (and a few of your other favorite spices)




Preparation:

Preheat your oven to 200 (what, is that 425 for you in the US?)

First I start by taking the egg(s) and cottage cheese and putting it in to a food processor or blender or whatever you have on hand, and puree it to pretty much a liquid. I also add a ton of my seasonings into this.





Then I take my cheese, noodles, sauce, and cottage cheese puree and prepare to do the layering. This is the order I layer in:

Noodles - Puree - Sauce - Cheese - Noodles

Until I get around 5 layers. In this evenings dinner, I only had 3, since I didn't buy enough cottage cheese, but it's so much yummier with more. I end by after putting cheese on, I add some more sauce all over, and cover that again with cheese, and a dash of black pepper.



Place it in the oven for 20-30 minutes, depending on if you like your cheese crispy (we do!) and let set for a short while before serving. Yummy.




As you can see, this is a simple plain ol' cheese lasagna, but we absolutely love it. We usually have a cottage cheese at the shop with garlic in it, which is the best, but we didn't find it this time. If you are looking for something quick and yummy, this is great.

I realize that both of my recipes involve a lot of tomato sauce and cheese. I don't always just cook with those, but for some reason we find ourselves eating a lot of them anyways. So yummy, I guess. I have to also send a shout-out to my friend Stephanie from over at Healthy and Homemade for inspiring to pay more attention to what I am making. She's got some really great (much better than mine) recipes you should check out.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Giver or a taker?

A few days ago, my husband and I took Noah to the Icelandic "Zoo". It's really more of a family park with a few rides like a carousel, bumper boats, and some bouncing ride. Oh, and they have a few farm animals, and some seals. And a botanical garden right by.

It was my first time going, and we met up with a friend we hadn't seen in a while. There was live music playing, and it was an absolutely beautiful day.

Well anyways, Jonas and I get there, and put Noah into his carriage and start heading in to meet our friend. It's pretty crowded, because of the live music being played, and as we are walking down the paths, there are tons of other mothers with their strollers and such as well.

Something that I noticed after a few minutes of trying to go against what appeared to be a rush of traffic, was that everyone who was walking against us walked as though they owned the path, and even though there was room on the other side of the walk, they only used the "coming in" side of the path. I say it like this, because isn't there some unspoken rule of walking in certain places, like while driving? As in, the people going against you should be to the left, while you should stick to the right side of the path? Invisible "lanes" perhaps?

I suppose I was raised to think that there was a courteous way to walk.


But Jonas and I had such a difficult time getting to our destination! Everyone coming against us seemingly refused to move their own path to get out of ours, even though we were on the farthest right edge, practically in the grass. And Jonas and I struggled to weave in and out of the people. I realize I am probably painting this mental image to include way more people than there actually were, but it was a pretty narrow path.

It just got me thinking, "Why are Jonas and I the only ones moving out of anyone's way, and being considerate?". It made me question myself a little pit. Am I some sort of pushover? Can people instinctively tell that I would be the one to move out of the way? If I didn't move out of the way, would the people rudely run into me? Is my being considerate causing people to think of me as an easy target to walk all over?

Most parents weren't even bothering to try and make sure their children wouldn't get in front of our carriage while walking past us. It was pretty frustrating.

Sometimes I find myself amazed by how people can treat strangers. How sometimes it seems people's arrogance are just overwhelming. Some people who drive treat each other terribly, while not allowing a person to go in front of them at a red light, even though it won't really change the timing of their arrival by but 20 seconds or so. I drive with such consideration, maybe too much even.

Maybe we should all take a second and think about what type of person we are, really. And maybe take a few extra seconds out of our life to be a little more considerate of your fellow stranger. Good deeds do not go unnoticed. I definitely think you get what you put out. You can change someone's day with just one second of consideration!

Here is a picture or two from that day, as pictures are always delicious on a blog post!

Me & the boy.


The seal.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Enchiladas a la Iceland

An interesting fact about Iceland is that it is really difficult sometimes to find ingredients to make things that I'm used to from back home. And example of this is enchilada sauce. And I love chicken enchiladas. So I ended up coming up with my own recipe, and it variates a bit from traditional enchiladas, but is still one of mine and Jonas' favorite dishes. So I thought I'd share the recipe with you. I created this on my own, so I'm sorry if some of it is not the clearest.

Please also excuse the terrible lighting of my photos. I find our kitchen lighting to be rather dark.

First off, here are the ingredients you will need:

8 flour tortillas
1 jar of taco sauce
1 can of tomato sauce
1 cube of chicken bouillon
1 small can of tomato paste
1 bag of cheese
1 can (or homemade of course) of refried beans
1 can of corn
1 package of cooked and shredded chicken *note, you can always cook your own chicken breasts and shred them yourself, I just found the perfect chicken in our shops!
1 package of burrito seasoning
some water to thin out your sauce *to however thickness you prefer!
cayenne powder
some water to simmer your chicken in seasonings in *you can also use the water from this to thin out your sauce!




First off, I start by putting the chicken in a skillet, pouring 1/3 of the burrito seasonings into it along with some water, on medium heat with a lid.


While this is simmering, I take the taco sauce and puree it, while adding the tomato paste, sauce, bouillon cube, and 1/3 of the burrito seasonings together in a small pot. I add the puree to the sauce as well. I put cayenne pepper in to my own spicy taste, you can choose to add it or not. I put it on medium heat.


While waiting for these to cook, I preheat the oven on to 170C which I believe is 350 or something similar for the US.

I then take the tortillas, sprinkle a few drops of water on them, and put them in the microwave for 10-15 seconds to soften them up, to make rolling easier.

I open my cans of corn, and beans, and prepare for rolling!



I then drain the water out of the chicken (you can then drain it directly into the sauce, or into the sink) and set it up near my corn, beans, and tortillas. I leave the sauce over the heat and keep it simmering. However, I do take a scoop of sauce and put it at the bottom of the casserole dish!

My method for rolling my enchiladas goes as follows:
1 scoop of beans
1 big scoop of chicken
1 small scoop of corn
top off with cheese, and roll up and put in the dish

Here is what it generally looks like before I roll it up!


and here they are getting laid out in the dish.

After I roll all 8 enchiladas, I find that I still have plenty of chicken left over. I usually then cover the tops with tons of sauce, really soaking them up, toss the rest of the chicken all over, and douse it with cheese. It generally looks like this before I put it into the oven:



I leave it in the oven for approx. 15 - 20 minutes, or until the cheese is turning brown (Jonas and I like the cheese to be a little crispy!)

Here is what it looks like when we take it out:


and dished out:



And man is it yummy.
So while this is by no means a traditional enchilada, it is still yummy, something different, and has the hint of Mexican flavor that I miss so much! I really hope that you don't have a hard time reading this, and that you find it as delicious as we do here in Iceland. Every time my husband eats this, he tells me "It's been too long since you've made this! You have to make it more often!". So I suppose that's a good sign!

If you do end up making this, let me know how it went for you!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Cooking and such

Someday I hope that I am able to build my kitchen so that it flows perfectly with the way that I cook. I love cooking. I love baking. I love when people sit around a table filled with the food that I make and talk and laugh and love what they are eating. I believe that deep down, I would love to be the retro housewife who donned the apron and cooked away the day. But in reality, it will probably happen a bit differently.

Even though I love cooking, I am definitely by no means even remotely close to being the type of chef that our mothers are. You know how we often make comments like "My mom makes the best *insert type of food here*!". I hope someday to get there.

Anyways, in the evenings in our house, when Noah is asleep, is when I find myself making odd things for Jonas and I to eat. I never use recipes, and always just throw stuff together and see how it turns out. Jonas is a great sport, and eats just about anything I make for him. And I just toss things like potatoes, green beans, cream of chicken soup, cheese, and chicken in a casserole dish for 20 minutes at 170C and see what happens. It's delicious of course.

This post is mostly just some mumbo jumbo about my love of creating random foods.

Tonight we had bagels turned into pizza, and man was it delicious.

Have you ever made up new recipes like this? Care to share them with me?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

What a great day!

Today was way more pleasant than yesterday. I can say that I will probably go to sleep with a smile on my face. Good food, good family time, and many other things added to the loveliness of the evening. I got to be a little feminine with my hair done, and some makeup. I felt pretty, confident, and just good overall. Can't complain one bit!

My thought of the day is how watching other parents can influence your own parenting. I know that personally, I watch closely to the little things parents do with their children, and decide whether it is a way I would do it or not. Of course I do this with an open mind, as what works for one child may or may not work for another. And this in itself is perfectly fine, but watching how any child has learned to behave based on the forms of parenting they receive is really valuable in learning for myself how to be.

And every time we are finished hanging out with other parents and their children, Jonas and I usually lightly discuss anything that we feel we wouldn't want to do with Noah. Most often, we feel exactly the same way about the same things. I am really thankful for that. I think that being on the same team when it comes to parenting is important.

And let me clarify, just because it is something we do not want to do, does not mean we are concluding it as bad parenting. It just means it's something that doesn't feel as though it would fit right with us and our family, and the way we want Noah to be influenced. We are by no means professionals, and do not make any such claims. But learning is so important!

We had dinner with our family (Who lives in the main house upstairs from us. We live in an attached apartment around the side of the house. I'd say a granny flat, but it's bigger, and suiting to our needs.) which was wonderful and delicious. After that, we brought Noah down for his bath, after-bath massage, snuggles, and bed. Simply divine. I love these types of evenings, as it brings all three of us (Jonas, Noah & myself of course) together. These times are just great. We bathe Noah together, and make him laugh and bond over his baby oil massage (to keep him baby soft!) and listen to music, and include tickles, kisses and laughter. I wouldn't trade these moments for the world.
(We also think he started crawling tonight! Yay!)


So my question to you, is do you do the same as Jonas and I, learning from other parents? And how do you put it into affect in the raising of your own child?

Here is a shot of Noah from after his bath!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Now that it's over...

I can safely say I am glad that today is over. It's technically tomorrow already, but since I haven't fallen asleep (to no surprise), I feel that this is the time of in-between.

There was nothing "technically" wrong with today, but it just was one of my off-feeling ones. I of course have no one to blame for the issues I had today, and even though I complain, I am still thankful for everything I have.

I initially had a hard time sleeping when I went to bed last night, I felt that I was having a small relapse of my horrific PUPPPS rash, and was terribly itchy and had small bumps in certain areas. By the time I was close to passing out, Noah woke up. Poor little guy had had an upset tummy the whole evening and night. So sleep wasn't really in the cards for me.

My husband of course, is amazing, and takes him in the mornings for me, we alternate. I wake up with Noah, feed him and cuddle him for a while, then eventually hand him over to Jonas who is *usually* able to get him to fall back to sleep. Then Noah will wake up again some time later, and the process starts all over. But this helps me catch up on the sleep I am always missing at night. I am simply unable to fall asleep.

Moving along, I also woke up with a migraine, and it was just awesomely bright today. I would have had a greater appreciation for it if I hadn't been in such agony. Not to mention Jonas was helping his parents with the remodeling of the extra apartment, so it left Noah with me most of the time.

I realize that besides the migraine, there is nothing seriously wrong about my day. And I realize that sunshine is nothing to be sad about. It was just that it is a Saturday, and I have been cooped up in this house for weeks (month?) and I barely have any friends to even make Saturday plans with, and even if I wanted to, I am terrible at driving stick shift (only myself to blame) and can't up and leave. Not to mention Jonas worked at his part time/few days/hours a week job until almost midnight, so even if I had wanted to have that wondrously elusive thing called a social life, it would have had to begin so so late.


Raaar. This seems to have taken on quite the whiny tone. Although I don't suppose I will apologize, as this IS indeed my blog. I know for a fact that there are so many other moms out there who have days like I am having.

Jonas called before he came home tonight, and it woke Noah up to wide awake, and was going to ask if he could go hang out with some of his pals, and I just started crying. Sometimes I am overwhelmed with everything, and even though I am gifted with so many amazing things, I am still uncertain of myself as a person right now. I feel out of place in my own body, what with the postpartum healing, hair shedding, clothes not fitting... I am still alienated by this country in many ways.... And really wish sometimes that I could just fly back home to the States with my little family and have my confidence, stride, independence, and friends back.


Tomorrow when I wake up, I can imagine that these bubbling emotions will have subsided again, and they will probably come back the next time I am feeling cabin fever. But I know that as long as I can recognize and acknowledge them, I think I have a better chance of avoiding depression. That's the first step, right? Being able to know if you have a problem?

What about any of the moms out there reading this blog? Do you have days like this too?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Post Partum Grumbles

I have discovered what, in my opinion, is one of the most annoying parts of being postpartum. Hair loss. I practically dread getting in the shower to wash my hair, as I watch in horror as clumps of hair leave my head and wave goodbye as they get sucked down the drain.

I've never been one to usually have long hair. I was one more known for the short pixie looks, bobs, and so forth. Well somehow I have acquired the longest hair I have ever had. It's all the way down to my chest, or mid-back. I have naturally fine, curly hair, and it's become quite the burden to do anything with.

I keep reasoning with myself that I want to keep it long to enjoy having long hair for the first time, and have even eluded a simple hair cut or trim for the last two years. I'm rather appalled by how unhealthy my hair ends are. How did it all come to this?

Living with a constant bun/pony-tail has gotten so boring, and makes me feel super drab and completely unfashionable (coupled with the fact that most of what I wear nowadays comes from my husband's side of the closet) and self conscious.

How are other mothers coping with this sad side effect? I knew it would come, this constant hair-shedding, but I guess I didn't understand just how much would actually come out. How long does this last? Should I just go back to having short hair?

Grumble grumble.

It's good to know, I suppose, that it's not a going bald type of thing.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

All about Brooke (I'm such a creeper!)

We seem off to a good start, two posts in one day! Although, I don't suppose the first blog ever should really count, as it is always kind of a filler/explanation as to why the blog itself exists. Well, in any case, we are on track.

I just felt the urge to delve into a little deeper as to this path I am currently walking, regarding making hats and such. I think it means a lot to me.

I live in Iceland. Oh, what? Iceland you say? Why, Heather? What brought you there? Well that in itself is a long story, and we wouldn't want to go into all that right now. I just do, and I am usually more happy than sad about it. I married an amazing man, and had an amazing little boy, and I am just still here. I do have intentions of moving back to my home place of California in the coming years.

Moving along... Well here in Iceland I have found it difficult to make friends. I can't really say that it is anyone else's fault besides mine, as I have lived here for two years. I find myself in most cases becoming a recluse, hiding behind the comfort of my own walls with my little boy and husband, thriving off of the internet and the connections it gives me back to my family and friends across the US. I pine often for the States.

I've decided that I tend to feel stifled, and creatively blocked, as being on a small island can be difficult when the things you know and love are hard to come by. Spicy cheetos, corn nuts, In-N-Out, Costco, huge craft stores... This list is long.

Well thank goodness we live in a generation run by technology. I can wake up in the morning and see what everyone is doing with their lives, and have visits with my parents who are some 6000 miles away... Simply amazing. I don't know what I would do without my computer and an internet connection. Sad? Maybe. But very true.

Seems this short story has turned a bit long. My fingers tend to get carried away, once they start typing. I simply love the clicking feeling and sounds that come from a keyboard, and that sound really is inspiration to start typing. Yay for blogs!

Ah, to the main part of my short story.

There is this lovely lady named Brooke. It's hard for me to describe the kind of friendship we have, as I think it is rather odd. She is such a lovely woman, and we have known "of" each other for some 7 odd years it seems. I believe we have maybe only seen each other in person 2 times? Maybe just one? Regardless, we knew each other through other people, and became connected through blogging back then. Over the years, we kept up on each other through all the popular sites, a comment here or there. I know that I kind of looked forward to hearing about her, and I really almost felt (feel) kind of foolish for being interested in her so much, as I barely knew her. And when I say "we kept up on each other", I truthfully don't even know if Brooke was indeed doing that, or if I am just alone in that whole bit. I find it funny that it seems we have so much in common, strangely so! But let me say, I have watched her grow and change so much, and it really has been so amazing to see her become the person she is. It's so fantastic to have someone to look at for inspiration! She's become quite the amazing photographer, and not only is the what brought me to Elskan Baby, but she has been so supportive, and for us not even knowing each other face to face, I find this so enchanting, for lack of a better word. I really just wanted people who come to this blog to know about this amazing woman, and to check out her work. Her photography has inspired me to be a better life chronicler for my son with my dinky point and shoot, and to put myself out there for people to see. So please check out Brooke's blogor even her website.

Better yet, follow her on Facebook

Starting anew!

Well here I am, and I decided that since I was no longer a pregnant woman, and rather a budding business beginner (Elskan Baby - baby hats, and photography props!), slash mom, that I would head the blog in that direction. I hope you will enjoy following me as I share information on discoveries about being a mom, and my little business as it progresses and grows and becomes something!

Ideas, projects, recipes, and random things will also be here for your amusement and entertainment! I hope you enjoy following me!