What comes of throwing things in a skillet

Last night I was going to make beef and broccoli stir-fry for supper.  The meat was already thawed (a novelty for me since I usually decide that afternoon what I’m making for supper and therefore scramble to get the meat unthawed)  and I knew I had a package of broccoli in the freezer.  However, after cutting the meat up, I opened the package of broccoli and discovered that it had gone bad…I guess it unthawed too much during our week-long power outage.  Hmmm…what to add to the stir-fry now?  I decided on pineapple chunks and garlic…and it was amazing!  Definitely something I want to make again…so I better record the recipe so I can remember what to do.

Sesame-Garlic Stir-fry with Pineapple

Cut beef into small bite-size chunks and place in wok or large cast-iron skillet.  Peel and roughly chop a head of garlic and add.  Douse liberally with toasted sesame oil and start sauteing over medium-high heat.  Once the meat has mostly browned, season liberally with soy sauce.  Sprinkle on a little ground ginger, some sesame seeds and about four or five grinds of pepper.  Cook several minutes more. Drain a can of pineapple chunks (which our Trader Joe’s just started carrying…YAY!), reserving the juice.  When the meat is almost done, add the pineapple and let cook a minute or two longer.  Drink most of the pineapple juice and then dissolve a teaspoon or two of cornstarch in the final dregs and mix thoroughly.  Drizzle this over the finished stir-fry and stir a couple times before turning off the heat.  Let sit several minutes before serving and then give it all a final stir.  Serve over basmati rice.


Gift-list from the week with no electricity

287. Talking with a close friend who just had her baby.

288. Learning to not be discouraged by not being able to go to the local B&B for our anniversary night (since their power was out too!).

289. Going out for Mediterranean food instead.

290. And then to Starbucks with our laptops.

291. A beautiful and sweet anniversary card from my husband of two years.

292. Rejoicing knowing that a friend’s husband is finally home from a long deployment.

293. A quiet morning with toast and hot chocolate after a long night with a wakeful toddler.

294. Generators.

295. Laundromats.

296. Clean laundry and diapers.

297. A clean hearth.

298. Reading through some birth books again.

299. In-laws who are wonderful babysitters.

300. Flowers from my sweetheart lasting a long time (and brightening a gloomy week).

301. Dinners by candlelight.

302. Aaron and Cedar taking a walk so I could get the mopping done.

303. Snow on peach blossoms.

304. Reading Under the Tuscan Sun.

305. Drinking pregnancy tea out of quart Mason jars.

306. Sunshine after days of gloom (and no electric lights).

307. Cedar’s fascination with and love for calculators.

308. Enjoying pesto made from the past summer’s basil.

309. Long, good talks with my mom.

310. Spending an hour at Starbucks, by myself, with a latte and my laptop.

311. A very enjoyable concert by the Voetberg family.

312. A new CD.

313. In-N-Out.

314. The power FINALLY coming back on after almost seven whole days of being without.

315. Not having to wash diapers at the laundromat again…thanks to my wise husband who advised me to wait just a little bit longer.

316. A celebration dinner of all the fun foods we bought for our anniversary getaway that never happened.

317. A clean refrigerator…the result of having to take everything out of it to store in coolers throughout the week.

318. LIGHT!

319. Being able to use my own washing machine again (lots of laundry to catch up on!).

320. The prospect of baking again.


Two years

Photo by Gayle Iest of Bryson Cybil Photography

Today marks two years since…

…I woke up on the morning of my wedding to a blizzard, after days of sunshine and perfect weather.

…the blizzard thankfully stopped and the sun came out in time to dry the roads sufficiently for people to travel safely.

…our families and their helpers transformed the little chapel (indoors now!) into a lovely place that any girl would be proud to be married in.

…my sisters, close friends and I spent several hours dressing, doing hair, eating, giggling and getting our pictures taken as we awaited the moment we could tromp through the mud and slush (with our dresses held up to our knees) over to the chapel.

…my mom helped lace me into the beautiful wedding dress that she had worked so hard on over the past three months.  She was able to make it exactly what I wanted (even when I didn’t know what that was) and more.

…my bridesmaids ushered me (as quietly as possible) into the back of the chapel after all the guests were seated.  Then we all hid in the ladies’ restroom while we waited for the ceremony to start.

…I heard the beginning strains of the cello playing “Be Thou My Vision” and my dad and I started down the aisle.

…my dad gave me to the man I had only known for seven months, but couldn’t wait to spend the rest of my life with.

…we all sang “This Is My Father’s World” and it seemed like the longest song in the world!

…Aaron’s dad gave the best wedding address I had ever heard.

…my darling and I pledged our love and our lives to each other and sealed it with our first kiss.

…my new husband carried me down the aisle to Bebo Norman’s “Sunday”.

…we spent several chilly, but happy hours taking pictures outside in a mixture of snow and sunshine.

…we attended our beautiful reception – a lovely time though I was quite tired and starting to get overwhelmed by it all.

…my new husband again carried me, this time through the crowd of our family and friends, blowing bubbles and wishing us the best.

…we got away, amidst a sudden onslaught of snowballs, to spend several blissful days entirely alone, by the sea.

Today marks two years since I began my life as Mrs. Aaron Telian.  Though those two years have been harder that I thought they would be, they’ve also been more amazing than I ever dreamed.  I am truly blessed beyond measure to be married to such a wonderful man and I pray that the Lord will give us many more years together.  I love you, darling!

[Several months after the wedding, I put together a wedding photo blog where I pared down our 1700+ wedding photos to a manageable amount.  If you haven’t already seen it, it can be found at Today I Marry My Best Friend].

Another week of gifts

251. The smell of sun-dried cloth diapers.

252. Driving in the rain.

253. A new cute notebook.

254. Buying fun food at Trader Joe’s for our anniversary.

255. Trader Joe’s chocolate ice cream.

256. Lots of fresh fruit.

257. A little boy who was very well-behaved during shopping.

258. White sauce and green chile enchiladas.

259. How much you can get done during a toddler naptime.

260. Sourdough pancakes that were so enjoyed by both my guys.

261. The smell of snack sprouts baking/drying.

262. Cedar talking and singing to himself while playing.

263. Aaron unexpectedly staying home from work because of the weather.

264. Several quiet hours of reading with my darling while Cedar napped.

265. Roasted garlic and white cheddar bread from Trader Joe’s.

266. Answering a friend’s questions about cloth diapering.

267. New babies everywhere!

268. The one sunny day between days of rain and snow falling on the same day as doing diaper laundry (i.e. fresh-smelling diapers!).

269. Listening to Aaron and Cedar play the keyboard together.

270. Cedar having a good attitude throughout a long evening away from home.

271. Sun-dried tomato and roasted garlic cream cheese dip.

272. Singing praises to the Lord with other believers.

273. Daydreaming of our coming little one.

274. Anticipating the birth (along with praying for our little one stay inside Mommy for several more weeks).

275. The sound of rain outside an open window.

276. Cedar “helping” Aaron bring in firewood.

277. A quiet Sunday at home with my guys.

278. A Nalgene scrubbed clean of the staining/residue left by all the pregnancy tea that I drink.

279. A late night dessert with my darling.

280. A long full-body massage from my wonderful husband.

281. Listening to Cedar sing and talk to himself as he goes down for his nap.

282. Toast with seasoned tomato paste and mozzarella cheese.

283. Having a snug, cozy house with a woodstove and propane cookstove during a long power outage.

284. The beauty of a foot plus of snow.

285. Having diaper laundry done the day before we had no power.

286. Gymnastics in my belly moving my book.

Tuscany spread

Yesterday afternoon I threw together this dip to bring to a gathering.  Despite some apprehension on my part as to whether or not it would turn out (“Balsamic vinegar and cream cheese…what am I thinking?!”), it was actually quite yummy and I had several requests for the recipe.  I thought I would share it here also, in case any of you want to try it, and also as an effort to help me remember what exactly I did…

Tuscany Spread (name coined by my husband)

Cut the bottoms off a head of garlic and roast at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or so (you may have to  adjust the roasting time according to the size of the garlic cloves…in the end you want them to be just soft, but not too browned).  Cool and remove from skins.  Place garlic, ten or so sun-dried tomatoes (I used the kind not packed in oil, but I would think that the other kind would work too), some olive oil and balsamic vinegar in a food processor and chop until you have an even paste.  Add a package of cream cheese and some milk and process until well-blended.  (I have a small food processor so at this point I had put the dip in a bowl to finish mixing in the other ingredients, but if you have a larger one, you could probably do it all in the processor.)  Mix in a cup plus of sour cream.  Season generously with dried parsley, dried basil, dried oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, pepper and lots of salt.  Finely grate about a cup or so of asiago cheese and mix in well.  Refrigerate for several hours to let the flavours meld and intensify.  Serve with crackers and enjoy!

Your baby does what?!

Other than ones about how I started Cedar on solids, the “baby thing” that I get the most questions about is how we have gone about  “potty training” Cedar from the age of six months (also known as “elimination communication” or ECing).  For the first six months of the training, I gladly shared our experience with the hopes that other people could also enjoy the benefits of their babies going in the toilet.  From about the time he was eight months old, we had to change about one or two poopy diapers a week, as opposed to one every day…and I’ll be honest, it was really nice!  I was so excited that this whole infant potty training thing was actually working and I was a definite convert.

Fast forward to a couple months ago.  Now past his first birthday and getting way more mobile, Cedar just wasn’t interested in going on the potty anymore.  Before, when he was younger, I could read his cues and get him to the potty in time and he would sit there and go.  Now, when I think he needs to go, I’ll take him to the potty (oftentimes at the expense of leaving his play – which he does not like!), sit him on there and he won’t go.  Take him off, put his diaper back on and he ends up going in his diaper ten or so minutes later, no cues or anything.  Needless to say, despite trying not to get frustrated about it, I often do…and we’re back to changing one or more poopy diapers a day.  And I’m at a total loss of what to do.  I don’t want going to the potty to be something Cedar hates doing, and at this point, it’s becoming that since getting into everything is so much more interesting than sitting on the potty.  Before, dirty diapers used to bother him and seemed to motivate him to go on the potty.  And now, even though I obviously change them as soon as I discover that they’re dirty, they don’t seem to phase him…again, probably because exploring is just so interesting.  I’ve read other ECing moms ‘ experiences and this sudden lack of interest around his age seems to happen pretty often…so I’m hoping that it’s just a phase and that in a couple months (hopefully after the baby is born), we’ll be back to using the potty regularly.

All that to say, writing this post will be humbling for me, and that’s why it’s been so long in coming.  With so many people asking me about it, I’ve been meaning to write it for several months now, but haven’t really felt “qualified” anymore since my baby stopped going on the potty.  But, like my husband encouraged, that doesn’t mean that I’m not qualified to write it…it just means that I’m actually going through the hard parts of it right now, I’m writing “from the trenches” in a way. So, I’ll share what we did, what I would have changed, etc. with the hopes that it will be helpful to any who are interested…and we’ll see where our little potty situation is at in a couple months!

As I mentioned earlier, our infant potty training (or ECing) journey began when Cedar was about six months old.  I had heard of ECing from several different people over the years, and I had helped train an older baby when I was living in NZ, but I was rather intimidated at the thought of doing it with my own little one.  However, when a blog I read published a (very helpful!) piece called “How to Potty Train Your Infant“, my interest was definitely piqued again.  And several days later, when Cedar had his first real solid food poopy diaper…that put me over the edge and we began.

From the beginning, I wanted to get Cedar used to going on the toilet (as opposed to in a little potty on the floor), but it was quite a strain on the back to balance his chubbiness on the edge of the toilet seat, so we got a potty seat and it was a life-saver!  For the first couple days, I didn’t catch anything in the toilet and I was a little discouraged. Six-months-old is pretty late to start infant potty training as he had essentially been trained to go in his diaper for the last six months. I think that definitely attributed to his slow start at it as I have several friends who started earlier (between birth and three months) and had more immediate success.  However, as the days and weeks went by, and I learned to read Cedar’s “cues”, we caught more and more in the toilet and it was very exciting!

Unlike many ECing moms, my goal wasn’t to get Cedar completely diaper-free by a certain time and therefore after the first week or so, I mostly focused on having him poo in the toilet and I wasn’t so concerned about catching pees.  I don’t mind changing wet diapers and to me, taking him to the toilet every hour or so to catch all his pees seemed like too much of a hassle to me for what it was worth.  That was obviously just my personal decision and I was very happy with only having to change the occasional poopy diaper when I missed a cue or wasn’t fast enough.

As I said earlier, up until a couple months ago, I was very satisfied with how potty training Cedar was going and I wouldn’t really have changed anything that we were doing.  However, now that he’s “regressed” (or whatever you want to call it), I’ve wondered if we had done anything differently if that would have prevented it.  When thinking about what we’ll do with the new baby, I’ve considered starting them earlier, but probably no more than three months or so.  We’ll see what happens…

The main thing that I’ve learned through this whole “journey” is something that I’ve ended up doing and then regretting…stressing about the whole deal.  And I’ll admit it, a big part of the cause of that stress was my pride.  When your eight-month-old regularly uses the toilet and people are just in awe…it boosts your mothering ego quite a bit.  And then, five months later when they just start going in their diaper again, your pride can take a beating (a needed one, believe me!).  And in reaction to that, I started to get quite frustrated with it all (and, yes, as horrible as it is, I got frustrated with Cedar too), which was definitely the wrong thing to do.  Now that I’ve just accepted that he’s currently not interested anymore, and being okay with that, poopy diapers don’t frustrate me as much as they used to.  And I’m determined now, both with the new baby and especially with whatever Cedar ends up doing with it all, to not stress about it and to just take what comes…potty training and dirty diaper definitely are not worth having a bad attitude over!

And thus ends my rambles about infant potty training…I hope it was helpful to some of you.  If you have any questions, I’d be glad to try and answer them with what I’ve learned through our ongoing experience.

A quarter of the way there!

216. Dusting.

217. The smell of my homemade all-purpose cleaner – water, lavender Dr. Bronner’s and lemon essential oil.

218. Playing on the trampoline with Cedar and soaking up the sunshine.

219. The little boy belly laughs that come from hitting the ticklish spot exactly.

220. Hanging diaper laundry outside in the sunshine.

221. Cedar “helping” me pot the pansies for our front porch.

222. Getting my planter of lilies-of-the-valley ready for spring.

223. Winning the Lilla Rose giveaway.

224. The feel of bare feet on damp earth.

225. The late afternoon sunlight causing a barely blooming tree to glow the palest pink.

226. Cedar “helping” me peel garlic.

227. Steel-cut oatmeal with blueberries and honey.

228. Toddler fascination with pockets.

229. Cedar “talking” up a storm.

230. How cookbooks are so heavy when you’re only a year old.

231. Washing the birthing pool.

232. Getting out all the infant clothes and filling the new baby’s drawer.

233. Getting together everything for the birthing kit.

234. Cedar nursing to sleep.

235. Cleaning with essential oils.

236. Spring-scented candles.

237. Potatoes roasted with garlic.

238. “Dancing in the Minefields” by Andrew Peterson.

239. The peach tree outside our front window starting to bloom pink.

240. Yummy homemade water kefir (i.e. cheap probiotics!).

241. Fresh strawberries.

242. Talking with other moms.

243. Very comfy maternity capris.

244. Sister time.

245. Unexpected roses from my darling.

246. A quiet morning while Cedar sleeps in…which he desperately needed.

247. Sitting outside Jamba Juice with my sisters, sharing what God has taught us in the past couple years.

248. Mangoes, lemons, garlic and strawberries all very on sale.

249. Finally being able to wear a new short-sleeved maternity shirt that I bought over the winter.

250. Feeling cute in said shirt.