Re-Entering the World the Blogging

I don’t want to make any promises, but I’m hoping to get back into blogging more regularly.

I’m setting a couple ground rules for myself as I re-enter this world:

1) It doesn’t matter how frequently I post (even though I like structure and rhythm and routines and could easily set some sort of arbitrary standard for how often I’m blogging.)

2) I don’t need to have a bunch of photos (even though I prefer when there’s photos in blogs.)

3) My posts can (and should be) short (even though I’m generally a long-winded person.)

So, here’s to a new beginning of intermittently sharing bits and pieces of our life now that we’re a family of three!

(And, because I can’t help myself with the photos, here’s a picture of sweet Vera taken a few days ago with my brand new phone.  So new, in fact, that I hadn’t even peeled the clear sticker off of the camera lens yet.)IMG_1458

The garden

I’ve been wanting to tell you about our garden for awhile.  We moved into our house about this time last year and never really felt like we had the time or space in our minds to think about the yard since we were mainly focusing on getting our things settled inside the house.  So, this year, we have been super excited about the prospect of being more thoughtful about our edibles.

We started by getting all of our fruit trees structurally pruned by a professional tree service company last winter.  Had we timed these photos right, we could have shown you what they looked like in the prime time of their flowering.  But, here’s what they all look like as of May 22:

Plum Tree

Pear Tree

Apple Tree (with our new bird feeder!)

Our 2nd apple tree

Two Cherry Trees

Two Cherries


We’re really hoping to take advantage of our fruit this year.  We pretty much missed all of our plums last year. ( think I ate one.)  All of our pears were WAY to high to try to pick.  At one point we had considered trying to pick them through the upstairs bedroom window, but they were still out of reach. The ones we found on the ground always looked like they would have been pretty good.  All our cherries went to the birds.  Every single one of our grapes went to the raccoons.  I at least managed to make a good sampling of baked apple treats.  So, like I said, we’re hoping for better luck this year!

Oh. I almost forgot to show  you our nicely pruned grapes.  We did both of these vines on our own. 🙂

We ended up buying all of our starts for the garden at two different times.  In April, we planted:

  • peas
  • carrots
  • spinach
  • romaine
  • red leaf lettuce

and pot of italian flat leaf parsley, sage, and thyme.

(In case you’re wondering why our parsley looks so measely, it’s becuase I’ve already used a huge amount of it for a chimmichurri sauce.  And – don’t you worry about that mint.  It made it into our inaugural summer mojitos and they were good enough to repeat throughout the season.)

Last weekend, we finished our planting with:

  • tomatoes (grape, roma, and tomatillos)

  • jalapenos
  • serranos
  • cucumber
  • zucchini
  • yellow squash
  • delicata squash

And, we added another pot of herbs with basil and cilantro.

We also finally got rid of a bunch of the strawberries that had been planted in one of the garden beds when we moved in.  So, we’re down to 1/3 of what had been there.

It wouldn’t be right to leave out a picture or two of some of the flowers we put in the planters coming up our front steps.

Nor could we leave out a photo of our new pride and joy:

Our rain barrel!!

Here’s hoping for a warm summer! 🙂

If only those new shoes made everything better…

I may have gotten a little overly ambitious on March 20th when I signed up for the Rock ‘N’ Roll Half-Marathon.  (In my defense, Kyle was right there with me encouraging me to do it, so it wasn’t a rash decision…)

If you didn’t read my last post, you should start there.  It gives you a little history about my recent knee problem.

Long story short: I’m doing Physical Therapy 2 days a week right now.  There isn’t a real diagnosis except that I have pretty poor tracking in my kneecaps (with too much lateral movement to the outside of my knee).  So, any type of repetitive activities (i.e. walking, biking, running, being on a machine at the gym, doing workout videos – in other words, ALL of the things I do to stay active and healthy) have a tendency to cause inflammation and pain in my knee(s). (It’s my  left knee that was really giving me problems, but the right knee isn’t exactly a perfect specimen, either.)

The exercises they have me doing will help improve stability and strengthen the muscles in the inside of my knee to help pull the patella in/up instead of out to the side.

When I first arrive for my appointments, they do some ultrasound to heat up the tissue around my knee.  Then the therapist does some stretching of my kneecap – inwards, to sort of train it to go the right direction – and then I get taped up and look like this:

I do my PT exercises with the tape, which is, when first applied, pulling my kneecaps tightly in towards the center of my knees.  The tape stays on for a couple of days, so it feels pretty weird.  Not to mention, as the days goes on and the tape shimmies around a bit, it reveals the sticky residue on my skin, which then collects all of the fuzzies from the inside of my pants.

I’m really glad that I took the initiative to call my doctor and see if he thought I should go to PT for this, because it’s obvious that I need a trained individual to help me make gains.  But I’ll tell ya….it is SOOOOO hard to not be able to do all of the things I normally do.

Right now, I’m restricted to only using the bike at the gym and at a really low resistance.  (Like…3.)  The rule of thumb is that I’m only allowed to work myself hard enough to the point where I feel a very faint dull ache with no real pain.  The point – as I understand it –  is to build up the body memory in my tissues and ligaments and stuff so my body knows what repetitive motion for a long period of time feels like.  Then, slowly, I can add resistance (and I imagine more types of machines and outdoor exercise) as I can tolerate it with zero pain.

I’m not even allowed to take a long “exercise” walk outside right now.  It was recommended that I try only 30 minutes.  And, maybe do that with a brace, with superfeet inside my new “good” shoes, ONLY on flat services.  (No trails.)  (Personally, I think I can handle walking farther, longer, and without all those supports right now, but, I’m a rule follower and would have a hard time NOT taking the advice of my Physical Therapist.)  So, instead, I’ll just complain about it. 🙂

This is REALLY hard for me to take.  Plus, there’s the REALLY BIG chance that I wouldn’t actually be able to run the half-marathon this summer, which in case you didn’t peruse the website in great depth to find this out, is a non-refundable, non-transferable registration.  So, it feels like I jumped the gun in paying the big bucks to participate.  I know that if nothing else, I think  would be able to walk it.  (Or maybe run/walk???)

Anyone out there have an encouraging story of healing quickly from an injury??  I’d love to have a positive anchor to hold onto during my slow-going therapy.

I just keep thinking, “If only those new shoes made everything better….”

Tough as Nails

I’ve always known that fingernails don’t grow very quickly, but I’ve never known this truth more intimately than now.  One month and a day ago (December 10th),  I had exploratory surgery done on my finger.

The problem began about 5 years ago when I started to notice that my left index fingernail had a split in it.  For a long time, I faithfully covered the split with superglue, hoping to hold it together while it grew out.  But, after years of this NEVER working, I gave up on the superglue.

There was never any pain associated with this (minus the times that the shard of nail that wasn’t connected very well would catch on something and pull it back), but I finally mentioned this annoyance to my doctor.  He couldn’t see anything on the surface level that would be causing my nail to grow like this, so he suggested that I see a dermatologist.  This doctor had no clue, so she ordered an x-ray to make sure there was nothing abnormal about my bone that would then affect the growth of my nail.  She then sent me off to a dermatologist whospecializes in nails.

Who knew such a specialty exists?  As it turns out, my doctor – Dr. Fleckman – is basically one of two specialists in the country.  There’s Dr. Fleckman in Washington and his best friend in New York.  🙂

Anyway…I’ve been seeing Dr. Fleckman since August 2010.  He faithfully worked through the process of ruling out a fungus or another skin problem and finally, after I’d stumped him long enough, he decided the last resort was to perform a surgery to lift my nail and see if there was anything going on with the tissue of my nailbed.

*WARNING: if you are at all queasy, you might want to skip the next paragraph.*

So, now I’m up to speed.  That procedure was done one month ago.  Thankfully, when Dr. Fleckman lifted my nail, he found the cause of my irregular nail growth.  I had a fibrous tumor (about the size of a grain of rice) growing on my nailbed.  Weird.  With a little work, he removed the nail, lifted my skin a bit since the tumor started growing up under my cuticle, and scraped off the tumor.  My finger has been on the road to recovery every since.

It took about 3 weeks for the nailbed to heal, but at this point, my finger looks pretty normal.  It’s just missing a nail.  After an entire month, there’s still not a hint of my nail starting to grow back.  I keep thinking that any day now I’ll see a bit of nail peeking out.  I’ve reached the point of having  zero pain associated with the loss of my fingernail.  If anything, it just feels weird that there’s only skin there.  It certainly does make me feel tough, though, when I get to tell the story of having my nail removed and watching most of the procedure!

 

Tradition

We went to the cabin a couple of weeks ago with our friends, Aaron & Elizabeth.  (Also occasionally referred to as “The Bookners”, which is a combination of their last names.)  Our planning for  weekends at Guemes with them is pretty much down to a science:

1) We’re always picked up by them on a Friday at our place and once on the road, place bets in the car on when we’ll arrive in Anacortes for the ferry.  (The winner gets to choose where we eat lunch on our way back to Seattle).

2) Once at the cabin, we unpack our coolers, drop our bags, prepare a fire in the woodstove, and turn on a few of the baseboard heaters just to warm things up a bit.

3) Eat dinner (and drink draft beer) at the store.

4) Either we or the bookners are in charge of Saturday morning breakfast.  This time, it was us, and I made swedish pancakes.  Unfortunately, I totally forgot to take a picture of those, but the ones I made looked sort of like this.  We put jam on ours, though.

5) Sometime after breakfast, we always take a walk.  This time, because of the high tide for most of the day, we ended up walking on the road.  Usually, we do a long beach walk, though, and hunt for agates.

6) It’s usually about time for lunch when we return.  Elizabeth and I usually plan it so both couples contribute to the lunch.  This time, I worked on a fruit salad with persimmons, which I’d never cooked with before –  let alone eaten – while she made yummy sandwiches.  We all enjoyed the salad so much, that I had to take a picture:

7) We also read.  At a certain point, while I’m reading my book and Kyle and Aaron are reading old issues of The New Yorker, Elizabeth takes an afternoon nap.  Once she’s awake, we assemble some sort of appetizer with drinks.

8) I can’t believe I forgot to mention that we spend the whole day stoking the fire so the woodstove looks like this:

9) For dinner, once again, we usually both end up contributing something.  We had a greek theme this trip with lamb meatballs,

a sauteed veggie dish with zucchini, onions, tomato, and feta,

and what Elizabeth refers to as my “Secret Couscous”.  Oh, and of course – we have wine.  Here’s what my plate looked like:

10) In the evening, over a few more drinks, usually end up playing a game.  We played Clue this weekend, which none of us had played in ages.  We had a really good time.

11) There’s usually a dessert on our menu, too.  I made a Rum Cream Pie this time.  Yum.

12) On Sunday morning, the other couple makes breakfast.  Aaron and Elizabeth made excellent New York Breakfast sandwiches, complete with “Salt, pepper, ketchup.”

Sometimes we end up with a little extra time before it’s time to catch the ferry and we’ll take another walk.  This time, we just cleaned up the cabin, and headed out to catch the 11:15am ferry.

Our weekends away are always really predictable, but manage to leave us with unique memories and make us ready to start planning the next Guemes weekend.

Oh – p.s. I won the bet on the arrival time.  We ended up at McDonald’s for lunch on the way home.  🙂

GAHH!!!

So – there’s at least one thing that drives me (Amy) absolutely batty about my job.  My frustration comes from the fact that I go from complete freedom during the summer months to do what I want, when I want, how I want, to complete and utter dependence on school responsibilities  in the fall.  This year, for a number of reasons has felt like one of the most chaotic, busy, overwhelming, crazy beginnings to the school year.

And yet, the good news to report is that I’m surviving. 🙂  To be perfectly honest and upfront, going back to school over the past couple of years has also meant going to counseling as well, but this year I’m finally feeling confident enough in my abilities and responsibilities that I know I’ll get through.  I’m just having a hard time finding time to get the basics done.

For example, it took me two days to finally grind more coffee so I can have coffee in the mornings.  This morning I had tea.  Granted, I like tea.  A lot.  It’s just not coffee.

I believe that to be a sign of business!  🙂

Kyle seems to be having an equally busy time at work these days.  In fact, there was one day recently that we didn’t even really see each other at all except for “seeing” each other in bed, which, in my mind, is more like being aware of a presence there with you.

We know things can only get better from here, and so, forgive us if in the meantime we seem to be off the radar.  We’ll back around sometime soon.

I want to tell you all about the Kale and White Bean Soup I made a couple weeks ago, an unexpected surprise in a Roasted Beet Salad, one of my favorite go-to ‘make-at-home-Thai-meals’, and our involvement in a CSA.

See?!  Don’t you worry!  Despite my crazy business, I still want to update you on all the things I’ve eaten recently.  Which brings to mind – if you ever want to hear about other things than food, just ask!

Hopefully one of us is back with an update before you know it!

A Slow Start

Kyle and I were on vacation a couple of weeks ago.  The first part of our trip was spent in Holland at my parents’ new house.  The second bit was a trip to the Adirondacks with my sister, brother-in-law, and niece.  The third leg was our family reunion (Wingstock) in Massachusetts.  Kyle left after the reunion so he could return to work, but I stayed on for the 4th leg of the journey, which was more time spent in Holland with family.

I made my arrival home late on Saturday night and then we hit the ground running on Sunday with a mid-day Sounders game and then a Morgan family gathering to belatedly celebrate my brother-in-law’s birthday.

I guess I had pictured returning home and immediately getting started on all kinds of house projects to continue settling in, but instead I’ve been consumed by tasky things.  I dealt with the laundry, I’ve entered all of our vacation receipts into our expense budget, I payed bills, I made phone calls, etc.  Interestingly, the one thing I haven’t done is go grocery shopping yet.  When we woke up on Sunday morning, we discovered that everything was frozen in our refrigerator.  (Thankfully we didn’t have much in there because Kyle only did one little shopping trip before my return.)  We tried everything we could think of to warm it up including turning it off for awhile with the door open. We’ve have the temperature way down, but most things are still rock solid, so it didn’t make much sense to go buy new food that would promptly freeze and be unusable.  (Don’t worry – the fridge guy is coming this morning to check this all out.  I’m secretly hoping that it’s beyond repair so we can get a new one anyway since the one we have is really puny.  Actually, I’m really hoping we can fix it cheaply so we can keep it as an extra fridge, but get a new one for the kitchen.  🙂  )

In the meantime, while waiting for the repairman, the quandary with the frozen fridge has been that  1) we ate all of our fresh and perishable stuff up before we left on vacation so there’s not a lot of food in our fridge and 2) we were wanting to eat healthy meals at home after a couple weeks of eating anything and everything on vacation.  So – I had to get creative.  One day I tried out a muffin recipe I’ve been curious about for awhile that calls for grapes.  I thought it would be a perfect way to use our grapes that had frozen and then thawed.  The recipe also called for carrots, so I got to shred up a couple of our carrots that had frozen.

The life lesson I lived by was “If life gives you a frozen fridge, use your pantry and the freezer.”  In our case, I pulled out some tuna, and noodles from the pantry, and some frozen peas and made this tuna noodle salad, with peas.  I think it came out beatifully.

So – I have big aspirations of continuing to get things settled in at home both inside and out.  I had my green thumbed friend, Monica, come over yesterday to help us figure out what to do with the things in our yard, so I’m feeling inspired to work outside, but I also have several projects that need to be done inside.

But, for now, I still feel like I’m just getting caught up from being on vacation.  I think I’ll finally feel like I’ve returned when our fridge stops freezing things and I can go grocery shopping. 🙂