Craft It Forward

Operation email inbox? Success! I can’t say I have zero messages because apparently the people I’m contacting do not take months to reply, and some of them wrote back within 24 hours. Imagine!

It’s 30 degrees outside in Dallas today (I realize no one thinks that is a big deal, but remember, I’ll be paying my dues this summer!), and so receiving this gorgeous handmade checkered scarf from Julie was a particularly sweet treat. I’m pretty sure a gift like this doubled the coolness quotient of my wardrobe.

I’ve just about given up on the idea of grabbing self-portraits that are in focus. I really need to order a remote!
Why would an incredibly busy 5th year oncology student like Julie take the time to knit me a scarf? Several months ago I was one of the lucky first five commenters to express interest in being part of the Craft It Forward challenge. Julie would take the time to make me something using her many talents (and look at that scarf, isn’t she crazy talented?) and I agreed to do the same thing for 5 more people.
Now that I have this beautiful handmade item it’s time for me to pass something handmade on. If you would like to enter for a chance to receive something from me, comment below. Entries close on Friday and I’ll be using to choose the 5 people who receive something so comment below before then and I”ll announce the recipients next Saturday.
The only way chains like this are effective is if every single person who signs up to receive something in turn passes something on, so please only comment if you are positive you will be able to follow through and send something off to 5 people in return.

I Read Them, But Do I Reply?

This week (meaning on Tuesday) I committed to not writing any more “real” posts until I cleaned out my inbox entirely (I currently have 171 messages to take care of, all of them from real people who wrote important things and some of them have been sitting there since June of last year), which is why you haven’t heard from me. As That Husband can attest my inbox constantly has me feeling overwhelmed, and raging pregnancy hormones have led me to drag myself to bed crying because another day has gone by without me being able to say I’ve finally conquered it. So I’m ending it today, this week, this month. No more real posts on That Wife until the inbox officially says “0 of 0″ in the top right corner.

Then I can finally stay on top of Resolution #5 on my list**.

*And by “real” I mean the kind you have come to expect from me, either photos summaries of my rare adventures, photo tips, birth/pregnancy mumbo-jumbo, or my views on life that ultimately lead to at least 10 different people feeling like I have personally insulted them, their mother, and their pet goldfish Albert.

**In other news, I think I have models for my concept shoot. And some ideas!

Help Haiti (A Giveaway)

I wrote last week that I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by the crisis in Haiti and wondered where you were sending your money. Kelly, of The Startup Wife, commented about a giveway she is currently running* to raise awareness about human trafficking. I liked her idea and realized I had just the item to try to do something similar. I purchased this 8X10 letterpress print from Ma Joie Press at the Dallas Etsy fair a few months ago, but it’s been sitting in my closet waiting for the right giveaway opportunity. Isn’t it darling? [Edit: I linked the wrong vendor in the post! I apologize to Katrina for not crediting her beautiful work properly!)

I took Kelly’s idea for a giveaway and modified it a bit. To enter:

1. You must be living within the US. (Sorry international readers, I wish shipping weren’t so expensive!)

2. You must visit the website for either Children in Need or Partners in Health and make a donation, however great or small. Millions have been raised through $10 text message donations already, which I think powerfully illustrates how effective even the smallest donation can be.

3. Only donations made from this point forward, to these specific charities, are eligible for an entry. The goal is to inspire people to contribute more than they already have.

4. You must come back here and comment below to let me know you donated. Don’t comment if you intend to donate, only if you have done so. No need to tell how much you gave, just let me know you’ve already done so.

5. Spread the word! For each person that comments below to say they were referred here by you, you’ll friend will get one entry, and you’ll be entered another time. There’s no limit on the number of entries you can receive this way!

6. Entries will be accepted through January 31st, 11:59 pm. I’ll be doing a drawing to choose the winner on February 1st and I’ll announce the winner a week from today.

I am most certainly going to get flack from someone about choosing to only accept entries from certain charities. That’s okay, if you don’t want to donate to Children in Need or Partners in Health, simply don’t enter! Based on suggestions from friends and the research I’ve done I think these are two fantastic charities that could really use some help. I chose Children in Need because it’s a children focused non-profit established in 2001 with a long time presence in Haiti that promises 100% of the donations will go toward emergency response efforts in Haiti. Partners in Health because it’s a health care focused non-profit that has been in Haiti for 20 years and according to Charity Navigator only spends 5.1% of expenses on administration/fundraising. If you have already donated, I hope that this giveaway might spur you to give just a little bit more. If you haven’t, now is your chance!

Though I freely admit to knowing absolutely nothing about taxes and tax deductions, the New York Times tells me that donations to Haiti may be tax deductible for 2009. That Husband and I have already donated from the family budget, but writing this post has inspired me to give some money from my personal budget as well. I guess this post was a success even if I’m the only one who does so. :)

*You can enter Kelly’s giveaway until the 29th of January!

P.S.-Happy Birthday to my little brother, who passed away 17 years ago today. I hope I’m doing my part to make him proud.

Not The Time To Start Indulging

Judging pregnant women for their dietary choices is a fun national past time that I’m sure we can all admit to indulging in at one point. After all, with most areas of motherhood there is little proof that one method of child rearing is more effective than any other. Spanking? I was spanked as a child and don’t feel I have any issues because of it. Bribing? Though recommended against by most experts, the majority of parents use it out of exasperation and their kids turn into functional human beings at some point. But many of the dos and don’ts of a pregnant woman’s diet are regarded as fact, with lines never to be crossed. Though I certainly am not advocating for the intake of caffeine or alcohol during pregnancy (I avoid both whether I am pregnant or not), as the author of this article points out, the science behind the restrictions on a  (singular) cup of coffee or a glass of wine after the first trimester, really isn’t as strong as we might initially believe. And yet few pregnant women enjoy their time spent at Starbucks, even if they are sipping on a hot chocolate or creme frappuccino, because those who “know” the facts about what is best during pregnancy are sending looks of judgement their way. Not an experience anyone wants to have after paying $5 for 12 ounces of liquid.

Even if I did drink coffee or wine I think I probably would have abstained during my pregnancy. Better safe than sorry when it comes to those two substances I think! I admit to eating frozen yogurt while pregnant (although I’m a bit hesitant about this one as I’ve read more into the reasons behind it and I do believe that most machines I’m using to dispense my treat are quite filthy and germ infested), eating deli meat that I judged to be fresh, and indulging in all of the pasteurized soft cheese I wanted over Christmas. Be proactive about your own healthcare! Learn why the guidelines are in place! Drink a glass of wine if you don’t feel like the research you’ve done has proven the side effects you’ve been told are a guarantee. Blah, blah blah, you’ve come to expect this kind of talk from me.


What boggles my mind is that we will turn to one pregnant woman and judge her for having a glass of wine or a cup of coffee, and then turn to the next and encourage her in her efforts to down a slice of chocolate cake as big as her head. “You deserve it!”, the masses purr in the chocolate cake eaters ear, even though excessive amounts of both chocolate cake and a cup of coffee can be harmful to both the body of the woman and her baby. Eating junk is a bad idea pretty much always, but why would we want to be a part of galvanizing a pregnant woman into indulging even more often than normal when she is feeding both herself and her baby whatever crosses her lips for 40 weeks?

I admit to goading this response on a bit as I find it fascinating. I tweet  ”I want to make no bake cookies. Husband accuses me of taking things a bit too far now that I know I don’t gave GD. I plead the fifth.”*, and I receive several replies telling me to indulge because I’m pregnant. This is not an isolated occurrence either. Once your pregnancy is public any comment about desiring an indulgent treat is sure to elicit reactions along similar lines. Why are we encouraging this, ever? If your sick friend or your overweight friend were to express the same desires would you be telling them to “live it up” as well?

The best response I receive to the tweet above came from reader Cécy: “Good to hear you’ve got the thumbs up. You could make cookies, eat one and give out the rest in celebration.” Maybe the difference between her and other commenters is that she is French? Whatever it is, I think Cécy has the right idea. Cécy is the kind of friend I’d like to have around post baby too, as encouragement like hers would likely mean I reach my post-pregnancy weight and health goals much faster, thus ensuring the timely return of the positive thoughts surrounding my body image. I want that so much more than I want a batch of no bake cookies!

Instead of encouraging indulgence or forbidding altogether, let’s encourage moderation in all things. I know of no diet that suggests nachos, doughnuts, burritos swimming in grease, fast food, chocolate cake, cookies, ice cream, or any other food commonly regarded as “junk” to be a good idea. When your pregnant friend suggests the lava chocolate ice cream hot fudge indulgence when you are out to eat, suggest she split it with you (wouldn’t you suggest that very thing if she weren’t pregnant?) instead of laughing and telling her to order all of the dessert she wants since she is on the Pregnancy Diet. When she talks about wanting chocolate and ice cream for breakfast lunch and dinner, commiserate by sharing your own cravings and praise her for doing such a wonderful job of growing a fetus inside her belly, don’t galvanize her efforts to indulge in something she and her sweet baby most certainly don’t need.

Let’s support each other, whether pregnant or not, in our efforts to be healthier, and thus happier. It’s possible that the indulgence now could cause your child problems farther down the road, something I am sure we all would like to avoid.

And if you can’t thing of a single thing to say that doesn’t sound like a judgment, raise your eyebrows, purse your lips together and say “mmmmmmm”. But let’s stop with the facilitating.

*Yes! I don’t have GD. I’ll write all about my midwife appointment (and all of the stuff I did to prepare for the test) this week.

Glazed Clementine Chiffon Cake and Baked Spaghetti

This past week I made:

Glazed Clementine Chiffon Cake for a friend’s birthday. Delicious, except I added in 7 medium egg whites because I didn’t have 6 large egg whites. I thought it tasted a bit eggy so I wish I would have stuck with 6 medium and called it good. Citrus fruit is cheap right now (I bought the cheapest citrus I could find, tangerines I believe, instead of clementines) and the glaze on top was really tangy and sweet.


And this weekend That Husband and I have been devouring the Baked Spaghetti I made. No picture because taking a good picture of a casserole is almost impossible. I used whole wheat spaghetti noodles, added in chicken and finely diced mushrooms, used less spaghetti sauce then it called for (probably half the amount) omitted the french fried onions, and sprinkled cheddar cheese on top instead of parmesan. It’s so good that TH has asked me several times if I’m going to make it again, since I rarely make the same dish twice (too many options out there for me to stick with one!). I don’t really like spaghetti normally, too much tomato, but I loved this dish, probably because of the cream cheese. I highly, highly recommend it.