Category Archives: pictures

34 Weeks :: 6 Weeks

I think that it’s time to start not just counting up, but counting down to the official Estimated Due Date. She may come earlier; she may come later; but at some point soon, she’ll be here.

We are switching out of “pregnancy” mode here and in to “delivery” mode. I’m making bag-packing lists, scheduling hospital visits, calling pediatricians, and installing car seat bases in the next week or two. There’s a play yard/sleeper in the living room that is currently a convenient place to fold tiny mountains of baby laundry, but will soon be the empire of a tiny little empress. I’m washing aforementioned mountains of baby laundry. We need to clean out and reorganize the bathroom closet so her little basket of baby bath supplies can have a convenient home (right next to the little basket of doggie bath supplies). Amy is going to have a practice afternoon of dogsitting next weekend so that when Jim and I have to rush out and other people come to feed and hang out with her for a little while, she doesn’t think it’s too weird. Luckily our volunteer dogsitters are folks she knows and loves already, so she just needs to be like, “Okay, they know how to feed and walk me, that’s all good.” She’ll still try to make them conform to her idea of a schedule, so I have to make sure to warn them about her little tricks.

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Amy helps with one of the mountains of baby laundry.

Jabs and kicks are getting stronger, to the point where I was almost off to sleep last night when a particularly fierce and sudden one woke me up with a yelp. Alright, I’ll roll over! The  low pressure wave we’ve been sitting in since Wednesday evening has made her fidgety, to the point where there is hardly an hour when she isn’t up to something, or suddenly shifting and putting all her weight down on my pelvic bone for a split second. I am placing a bet that she’s born during a low pressure swing. She is mostly quiet at night and in to the morning, though after I eat breakfast she starts to roll around. I credit the coffee for that, even when it’s half-caff.

Speaking of the furchild, she’s gotten gluey. She follows me from room to room even more than usual, watching me with wide, liquid eyes (see above photo), and weighing my feet down when I elevate them at night so I can’t get away from her. I’m getting more “helicopter ears” and goofy smiles than usual, and she keeps looking from baby bump up to my face and back to bump. As a two-time mother herself, I’m sure she knows what’s going on and can also sense the subtle changes in my hormones and scent that tell her the time is getting close. We keep wondering if she can hear something going on in there, as evidenced by the look on her face in this picture:

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Shh! I think I hear something!

Oh, Little Amy. Your life is about to change…for the better, I think. Every dog needs a girl to call her very own.

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Third Meat Share

Meat, glorious meat! I am anxiously awaiting the day when GoogleMaps A) figures out that going down the Mass Pike is not my first choice when Storrow Dr/Soldiers Field Rd is 1) equally viable and 2) not a toll road, and B) decides to send me the same way to and from the pick-up location twice in a row. So far, third time has not been the charm.

Unless the charm is MEAT.

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Starting in the upper right corner and proceeding clockwise, we have:

YET MORE bacon (hallelujah!)
1 packet country style pork ribs
1 packet ground beef
1 packet ground pork
1/2 leg lamb
1 beef shank/soup bone
and 2 more packets of pork loin chops

The Farm School must have some super-happy chickens this month — each CSA’er gets TWO DOZEN eggs this time around. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a month’s worth of breakfasts to me. This morning I just finished my last allotment of farm eggs by scrambling an egg and baking it wrapped in a honey-oat-flax tortilla with some Mexican cheese blend and some pre-cooked pastrami. Breakfast egg-cheese-protein wrap…with ketchup. And PS, if you ever ask yourself what’s for breakfast, one of these days your answer should involve some combo of cheese, eggs, and black pastrami, with either some potato or some tortilla or toast to meld it all together. With ketchup. Your tastebuds thank you in advance.

The only sad thing about this month is that there are only two pickups left! But it has been wonderful. What a wonderful opportunity.

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Second Meat Share

About time I posted this, right? I’ve been sitting on this bounty since last Thursday…

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Meat, meat, meat! The second Farm School Winter Meat CSA share of the season. Containing everything pictured above plus a dozen cute little brown eggs, not pictured, most of which are, yet again, destined to become egg sandwiches and fried eggs.

Another packet of smoked bacon
1 packet of ground lamb
1 smoked ham slice (and it’s beautiful to behold)
1 boneless New York sirloin steak (hefty, gorgeously marbled)
1 pork butt roast (the size of my head)

For some reason, I wasn’t able to really embrace the first meat share until I knew what was in the second. We were able to finish off last month’s pork breakfast sausage fairly quickly, because we made it in to patties, refroze them, and could just pull out a pattie and fry it when we wanted it. And it was delicious, perfectly seasoned with sage and clove, firm, not at all fatty, and rich in flavor. I’ve also been working through the hot Italian sausage from last month, baking one partway, slicing it, and finishing it in the frying pan and tossing it with cavatappi and chunky garden pasta sauce. The Italian sausage shares many of the breakfast sausage’s qualities, being firm and rich and not too fatty — mostly what fat there is fries off and turns the outside of the sausage a lovely crisp golden brown.

I’m trying to plan more meals using the Farm School meat in the coming month, because there’s very little point in having all this lovely bounty and then not using it. Pork chops from the first share are thawing now to be showcased on a bed of sauerkraut for Christmas Eve dinner tonight. I’ve already got plans for the ham slice and the steak.

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First Meat Share

Meat, glorious meat. The first Farm School Winter Meat CSA share of the season. Containing everything pictured above plus a dozen cute little brown eggs, not pictured, most of which are destined to become egg sandwiches.

  • 3 pork loin chops
  • 2 packets of ground beef
  • 1 sweet Italian pork sausage w/fennel
  • 1 hot Italian pork sausage w/fennel, paprika, and red pepper
  • 1 slab smoked bacon
  • 1 packet of pork breakfast sausage w/sage and clove
  • 1 packet of beef for stewing
  • 1 packet of lamb for stewing

Tasty, tasty. Looking forward to all the wonderful meals that this represents for us.

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Apples

I don’t know how it happened, but I turned in to one of those people who wants to excel at home preserving, grow vegetables, and keep chickens and goats. Well, two out of three ain’t bad, right? I’m currently on step one, becoming proficient, confident, and successful at home-preserving local produce. It started out as a Daring Kitchen challenge, and since it was relatively easy and I had good feedback from my taste-testers, I’m plowing ahead.

This year, I’m maximizing the potential to amaze by buying fresh-picked apples from a local family farm, and using their farm-pressed cider too. So Meghan & I went to Honey-Pot Hill Orchards this past weekend to stock up on apples, peaches, cider donuts, and pies.

20 pounds of Red Gravenstein apples later….

So this is what 20 lbs of Gravenstein apples looks like...

I’ve conquered 3 of 4 batches of apple butter, resulting in 15 lovely jars currently occupying my countertop. 1 batch/5 jars left to go, and then I’m done. For now. Maybe not forever. Maybe not even for this season.

I’m also madly enchanted by the immersion blender Jim got me for Christmas last year. No more mashing my apple butter with a potato masher! Instead, I can almost instantly whip it in to a luxuriously smooth spread. Hurrah. I think that’s why I’m getting one full jar more out of each batch this year than I did in previous years, because I can blitz the apples in to a liquid instead of a chunky solid. Or because the apples were huge, fresh, and full of juice. Not sure. But the resulting butter is smooth, consistent, and richly flavored. I’m looking forward to a fall and winter full of my own apple butter, the taste of late summer.

Next spring: vegetables in container gardens. Just trying to find a local winery that might be interested in selling used barrels. Looking forward to maybe canning some fresh homemade relish or ketchup or tomato sauce next year!

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Top 5 Welsh Dog Breeds

So it’s the day before St Patrick’s Day, the day when everyone is Irish, everybody wears green, and everybody believes in pots of gold at the end of rainbows. I follow a lot of canine groups on Twitter and Facebook, and there is a proliferation this year of “Top 10 Irish Dog Breeds!” Well, I have a little Welsh dog and I love her more than anything, and no one wished us Happy St David’s Day this year or posted lists of the Top 10 Welsh Dog Breeds (except there are only 5, recognized by the AKC).

So with the daffodils in bloom, I bring you: the top 5 Welsh dog breeds.

Interested in any of these breeds? I’ll link you to the AKC site with the breed standard for each dog. These standards are a great introduction to the appearance and temperament of the various recognized breeds. I’ll be quoting liberally from these standards when I don’t have personal experience to go on.

NB: I’m not a dog expert, just a dog lover.

5. The Welsh Terrier. Terrier Group; recognized by the AKC in 1888. A “sturdy, compact, rugged dog of medium size” with a dense, wiry black-and-tan coat. 15 inches or so at the shoulder and about 20 pounds; females can be smaller. Rectangular head, dark brown eyes, small “V-shaped” ears and a “confident but alert” expression. The whole entry for temperament is worth quoting in entirety: “The Welsh Terrier is a game dog — alert, aware, spirited — but at the same time, is friendly and shows self control. Intelligence and desire to please are evident in his attitude.” The Welsh Terrier was originally developed as a hunting dog, and as such can be a stoic and persistent sort that can problem-solve creatively and efficiently. A “zippy and compact companion, always looking for action and entertainment.”

4. The Welsh Springer Spaniel. Sporting Group; recognized by the AKC in 1914. A slightly smaller, more compact look-alike of the English Springer Spaniel but a totally separate breed. 17-19 inches at the shoulder and of proportionate weight for the size. The breed standard calls the ideal WSS “compact,” “attractive,” and “handy.” The shape of the head should be in proportion to the body, neither too large (“coarse”) or small and delicate (“racy”). Eyes should be medium to dark brown with a soft expression; ears should be set at eye-level and come down toward the cheeks, “shaped somewhat like a vine leaf [and] lightly feathered.” Recognized coat colors are rich red with white markings, any pattern, and red “ticking” is acceptable among the white. An “active,” “loyal,” and “affectionate” dog, reserved with strangers but devoted to his family.

3. The Sealyham Terrier. Terrier Group; recognized by the AKC in 1911. The ideal Sealyham is 10 1/2″ at the shoulder, 24 pounds, and was originally bred to hunt badger, otter, and fox. This is how the AKC Breed Standard opens: “The Sealyham should be the embodiment of power and determination, ever keen and alert, of extraordinary substance, yet free from clumsiness.” And I think that says it all. Powerful without being bulky; a dynamo in a small package. A powerful (but not coarse) head, a strong jaw with a level bite, smooth flat cheeks, muscular neck set firmly on shoulders, strong forelegs with lighter hindlegs, large and compact feet. The coat is a double coat, good in the weather, soft undercoat and wiry topcoat. Color should be all white with lemon, tan, or “badger” markings. “Proud,” “charming and inquisitive,” and “spirited.” Sealyham Terrier Charmin won Best in Show at the AKC/Eukanuba Championship in 2007!

2. The Cardigan Welsh Corgi. Herding Group; recognized by the AKC in 1935. There are two breeds of Corgi and they are separate breeds: The Cardi is the one with the tail. This is a low-set dog with a deep chest, designed to do droving and farm work. These dogs may be 10 1/2 – 12 1/2 inches at the shoulder and 30-38 pounds (males; females may be of shorter height and 25-34 lbs.). The Cardi’s expression should be “alert and gentle.” Ears are large and prominent in relation to the rest of the body, and rounded at the tip. A moderately wide and flat skull, a distinct stop, and planes of muzzle and skull in parallel with each other. A “moderately long and muscular” neck, well-set on strong shoulders, broad chest, well-defined waist, slight downward slope to a low-set, bushy tail. Medium but dense, smooth, weather-resistant double coat can come in red, sable, brindle, black with or without tan, blue or grey merle, all with white flashings. Flashings can appear at neck, chest, muzzle, underparts, tip of tail, and as a blaze on the head. “Free,” “smooth,” and “effortless” gait;  “Short choppy movement, rolling or high-stepping gait, close or overly wide coming or going, are incorrect.” The Cardigan temperament is “Even,” “loyal, affectionate, and adaptable.”

And the number 1 Welsh dog breed….could there have been any doubt?

1. The Pembroke Welsh Corgi. Herding Group; recognized by the AKC in 1934. This is the second type of Corgi: The one with the Queen. A “low set,” “sturdy,” “bold and friendly” dog, the P-Corgi is slightly smaller than its Cardigan cousins, with shorter, straighter, lighter legs and pointed ears (where the Cardi’s are rounded). Half the “General Appearance” part of the standard has to do with the Pem’s attitude: “Outlook bold, but kindly. Expression intelligent and interested.” The gait should be free and easy, the head “attractive,” with a smooth gait indicating a well-formed (balanced) dog. This dog should be 10-12 inches at the shoulder, males no more than 30 pounds, females not to exceed 28 pounds. Shoulders to base of tail should be 40% longer than the height of the shoulders. Foxy, triangular head; fairly wide and flat skull; slightly rounded cheek; oval, medium-set eyes in shades of brown to complement coat color. Erect, firm, mobile ears that react sensitively to sound (we call them satellite dishes!). “A line drawn from the nose tip through the eyes to the ear tips, and across, should form an approximate equilateral triangle.” Fairly long neck to balance the body; level topline; deep chest. No exaggerated lowness in the chest, please, as this interferes with free movement. Long, slightly egg-shaped ribcage. Docked tail or natural bob, if sufficiently short (and does not spoil the topline). Short, inward turning forelegs; parallel elbows; oval feet with two middle toes slightly ahead of two outer toes on each foot. Medium, thick, weather-resistant double coat; acceptable colors are red, sable, fawn, and black and tan with or without white markings. White markings acceptable on neck, chest, muzzle, underparts, and a narrow blaze on the head. Too much white, especially in the face, can be undesirable. Fluffy corgis, while eminently adorable, cannot be bred or shown. As in the Cardi, a short, choppy, rolling gait is not accepted. Forelegs should reach well forward and work in unison with the back legs to propel the dog forward evenly and strongly.

See also:

Happy St David’s Day (belated)!

Amy would like to know if this means there’s going to be cake.

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How Today Has Gone

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Sort of like this.

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