Sunday, November 22, 2009

Peppermint brownies and a healthy afternoon snack

If you don't have a chocolate factory in your neighborhood I highly recommend getting one. They are GREAT. In our neighborhood we have Theo Chocolate, which makes organic, fair trade chocolate in small high-quality batches (without removing the cocoa butter which is apparently common practice in the chocolate industry) and they have happy well-paid employees that give high-energy tours of their factory while constantly slamming chocolate. They also have a CHOCOLATE UNIVERSITY where you can go learn about chocolate, where it comes from, how to prepare it, and why it is good for you (they used to actually prescribe chocolate and sell it in pharmacies, which is why it is made in segmented bars).

Theo also has REALLY GOOD CHOCOLATE and are always changing up what they have in the little store at the factory - so whenever I go I find lots of great new stuff (and lots of great samples!). This time they were getting geared up for Christmas, and had wine- or beer-and-chocolate taster sets, chocolate spa treatment gift baskets (including a peppermint-chocolate body lotion, oh my gosh!), whiskey confections (with real, good quality whiskey!), special holiday flavored chocolate bars, a section for vegans, a Jane Goodall line (with a copy of her latest book), and a list of holiday events and recipes. I signed up for the gingerbread house viewing in December and loaded up on some new recipes, then dropped a wad of cash on their excellent chocolate.

That night, we decided to make chocolate brownies using Theo dark chocolate bars. It is a typical brownie recipe, but calls for their Ivory Coast 75% cacao chocolate. Unfortunately, I realized after I was committed that I was two bars short of the Ivory Coast so we had to substitute the special holiday peppermint chocolate (70% cacao with peppermint chips). Then we used up all the butter and eggs in the refrigerator and baked it up. It turns out that peppermint chocolate brownies are pretty freaking awesome. The magic of the Theo chocolate was so powerful that we both ended up staying up well past 9 pm (and the baby too!).

Just the smell of chocolate brownies baking is magical. I think it triggers some sort of vortex that transports a person like me into a happy hallucination. Maybe it's just hormonal, I'm not sure, but it's good stuff.

On Sunday I incorporated the chocolate brownies into every meal. For breakfast, I just had a brownie (and some cereal, I'm not totally unhealthy). Then to supplement lunch I had brownies, sliced apple and cheese. Then after dinner, we had more brownies.

A 'healthy' after lunch snack on Sunday...

By dinner the brownies we served up were getting pretty small - but we still have half a pan to go!

I doubt we will have a problem finishing off these brownies. Not only are they delicious, but I think they are also giving me superpowers. This afternoon, I went to the Gap and scored big time - I actually found a half-price maternity coat that they told me last week they were sold out of. I'm telling you, it's magic!!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Blog Gadgets!!

I don't know if I should feel dumb or smart - I just now discovered that you can add stuff to the side of your blog. Check it out! I added Twilight quotes, Followers and a Search engine. I was clued in on Mandy in Minneapoland's blog, who is obviously way sharper than I am. For the rest of you who are really sharp about this stuff, can anyone explain to me how I already have two followers when I just put up the option to follow my blog? Also anybody know of any other cool stuff to put on the side of my blog? I probably shouldn't leave that Twilight quotes one up forever or you might think lesser of me...

Friday, November 13, 2009

Twi-fans: here comes the Studly Hubby!!

For the past month or so, the Studly Hubby has been very busy putting together a fan website for the new Twilight movie (New Moon) which opens next week. They launched the website yesterday. It features video footage of Forks (where most of the Twilight book series takes place) and an integrative map of various sites in Forks and all around that are important in the New Moon movie. The website features lots of videos and pictures and even a secret hidden interview with the cast (where cast members answer a question the Studly Hubby and I helped pick! - it's actually a pretty good interview, although short).

It has been a big project with lots of new features (the map is particularly cool) that the Studly Hubby had to work hard to create - many bags of M&Ms were consumed in the process of making this website. But it turned out really really great! Go Studly Hubby Go!

The website will get a plug tonight on Extra (with Mario Lopez from Saved by the Bell) and has already gotten a mention on Ryan Seacrest's radio show. It will also eventually be the first hit if you search for "Twilight" on Bing.

Click below to see the clip from Extra!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

What was I thinking (and why was I thinking that?)??

Yesterday at the end of yoga a woman in class announced that she was renting out one of the other rooms in the building and had some furniture to give away. So I and several others stopped by to check it out. As with most free furniture, it was not great stuff, but free, so I decided to take the bookshelves.

The problem is I have a tiny Honda Civic and it was pouring rain outside and I am pregnant, so it was an adventure getting the bookshelves crammed into the car and then driving home. Once we got the bookshelves outside they clearly did not fit in the car, and I had no bunjee cords to strap anything down, so after it was all done and the bookshelves were hanging out of the open trunk in the pouring rain I realized the whole thing was a bad idea. But since I needed a lot of help to get into that predicament I felt badly asking everyone to help me back out of it. I wedged them in as tightly as I could and mapped out the least hilly, least bumpy and least busy route home and then crossed my fingers and went for it. The rain of course got heavier and the hills were steeper than I remembered and the whole way home I had myself convinced the Studly Hubby would throw a fit and make me return the shelves when he saw them (we had previously made a pact not to buy any more crappy furniture... but free is ok right?).

On the way home I decided the best way to tackle the problem of the Studly Hubby, if I made it that far, was to just bring the bookshelves inside and wipe them off and pretend like they were always there. So I snuck the car up to the front of the house, got out and cheered quietly that I made it, and then somehow maneuvered the bookshelves out of the car and up to the porch in the pouring rain. I was just about to think I was going to be victorious in my plan when the Studly Hubby flung open the front door in his robe and proclaimed, "WHAT are you DOING?"

So I had to change tactics. "I DON'T KNOW...!" I wailed. "I'm not sure what I was thinking...!!!" He ran and got a pile of towels and put them down so I wouldn't wreck the house as I dragged the bookshelves through the living room and then he actually helped me wipe them down (with many complaints about how grungy and wet they were) and proceeded to ask why I thought it would be a good idea to bring home crappy bookshelves in the pouring down rain with our too-small car. I pleaded ignorant. I think it kind of worked. By the end of the morning I had convinced both of us that if we painted the bookshelves glitter purple with pink hearts on the side they would be really cool and totally worth my effort.

Couple's massage at the yoga center

I have started going to yoga at a new studio, Planet Earth Yoga (in Fremont).

It's a nice little studio that has small classes and a knowledgeable instructor (recommended by my physical therapist). I miss hot yoga a lot but this has been much better for me since I've been injured.

Yesterday the studio had a couple's massage class, which the Studly Hubby grudgingly agreed to (mainly because I am pregnant and he is wisely aware of the hazards of angering a pregnant lady).

The class was a lot different than I thought it would be. I thought we would get a little book on massage technique and get lectured on how to effectively work out muscle tension with your fingers and knuckles and elbows etc, but instead it was a simple do-it-and-make-it-work kind of thing. We spent one hour on each person and the instructor just talked us through a basic massage - start at the head, do the neck, the shoulders, then move to the arm and the leg, then do the feet, then switch to the other side. It was very straightforward and didn't take a lot of skill.

And it was AMAZING!! The Studly Hubby did a GREAT job on me and when I got to massage him it was exhilarating. We were both worried it would hurt my achy back to lean over him for an hour, and he was sure he wouldn't enjoy it anyway... but I think he really liked it! and I used all the props from yoga to help out my back (it's amazing how helpful a foam brick can be). Plus there was an indescribable thrill to it - maybe because I'm very tactile, and don't normally get to touch to many things without seeming weird, or maybe because his body was so fascinating (he has a manly brow! and giant hands and feet! oh my!). Probably I was also thrilled by the electric energy of the healing touch too. We both felt awesome afterwards.

The Studly Hubby just after his massage. You can see the foam brick just behind him that I sat on to protect my back. The teacher also had a million of these navajo blankets that you could use to crouch on and keep warm with and we were lying on cozy foam mats. It was quite lovely!

The Studly Hubby sprawled out at our 'spot' on the floor in the studio. The teacher thought I was pretty funny taking pictures of him. I didn't tell her it was for my blog!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Digital Scrapbooking Anyone?

Some of you may already know this about me, but I am a closet cardmaker. I'm terrible at it, and don't do it very often, but if you put me in a store with a bunch of scrapbooking materials I will go crazy and buy some things and make a not-so-great-looking card eventually. Real scrapbooking is a whole different beast however. And when it comes to making a photo album I'm totally lost.

This photo album blockage has been on my mind for a while now, especially with a baby coming. I thought going digital might help, and iPhoto and photo websites like Shutterfly have very simple templates one can use for this but for a baby book I wanted something more - lots of page templates (or even blank templates to build your own pages) and some extra features like different backgrounds or digital 'stamps' and decorations. So I asked someone in photography and was recommended two options: Adobe Photoshop (which has a digital scrapbooking add-on that you can buy) and Creative Memories (a traditional scrapbooking company that has made digital software).

Creative Memories:
In the end I went with Creative Memories. They have a free version you can download and play with (and actually use, although it's very limited) and the software itself is $65. Then you can buy various packages (like a baby-girl package of templates and decorations for $15). It works a lot like Microsoft Power Point so it's very easy to use and in the end you can use their sweet high-quality printing service to make hard-back or paper-back books.

They have a TON of other stuff and I will probably be entertained by this for a lifetime. Plus it's kind of run like Avon so there's a sales rep in my district that is going to constantly bug me to come to her parties and try new products. Hopefully it will be fun and not annoying. I am going to take advantage of her immediately and invite her over to host a digital scrapbooking party so I can have some girls over and learn the full power of the software. Hopefully I can get someone else hooked so I can be extra-motivated.

Let me know if you use or know someone that uses this software!

23 Weeks

I am one week away from the 3rd trimester. I am finally getting a pretty obvious bump, and people in my yoga class are starting to guess. But I feel like my height is finally working to my advantage because the belly has so far been very manageable.

I am starting to really be able to feel the baby move. She is very wiggly (during ultrasounds and lots of other times) and we have figured out that she probably gets this from her dad, according to the all-knowing Studly Mother-In-Law, who reports that baby's daddy was also quite wiggly in utero (unlike my brother and I, who 'didn't move' the entire pregnancy according to my Studly Mommy). I think Dad is very proud that his genes are already making themselves obvious. Also, clearly they'll be a good match for each other.

A doc appointment a few weeks ago and heavy-duty ultrasound all looked good, baby and mommy are healthy, all the tests are coming back negative except one. Apparently I am a carrier for cystic fibrosis, but thank goodness the Studly Hubby is not a carrier so the baby may be a carrier but won't have the full-blown condition. Also as you can tell I am using 'she' now so we found out the gender and the technician seemed pretty confident of the diagnosis. Plus my baby-girl instinct, which I have had since before I found out I was pregnant, has been verified.

Also I am happy to report that I finally got vaccinated for H1N1, a huge relief since this has been wreaking havoc on pregnant ladies around the country, and the doctor did a good job of freaking us both out a few weeks ago. We have been progressively being more careful as it hits Seattle (we both stopped riding the bus, I've requested my co-workers let me know if they run a fever, etc) and I've been getting more worried as the number of cases here goes up, but now I am vaccinated and I can sleep better!!