Wednesday, May 30, 2012

another week, another seven pictures

Week 19 started the same way that week 18 ended: with an Elsa picture. Normally, I don't like to have two pictures of the same subject in a row, but this shot of Elsa and Carmen outside was just so much better than the one of CDs in a box that I would have used otherwise. Steve and I spent most of that Sunday going through music. Steve was ripping all of our CDs to his computer, and I was sorting through a bunch of old sheet music, much of it from college and grad school. All of this was the beginning of our efforts to organize our house, clear out the office, and turn it into a nursery. More on that in the coming weeks.

It was warm day, and I joined Dan, Carmen, and Elsa in the alley while Steve was starting dinner. They were playing with bubbles and airing out their house. (Carmen had just gotten a new sofa at the flea market and was waiting for the smell from its cleaning to dissipate.) Elsa had a good time watching Carmen blow bubbles—the pointing thing was new at the time—while Dan held her up.

127/366 bubbles

Monday was another warm day, and I was on a mission to find chocolate coconut water after hearing about it on Twitter. (I was slightly obsessed.) I looked at the company's website for some clue as to where to find it, but all it had listed were Safeway stores. So I walked to the nearest Safeway and was disappointed not to find it. I had to settle for some regular coconut water of a different brand instead. It was okay, but it wasn't what I wanted. At least I got another try at photographing the peppermint geraniums in the park that I passed on the way there. I had tried a couple weeks before with my 50mm lens, but the focus hadn't been right then. The 35mm did a much better job, as long as I remembered not to get closer than the minimum focusing distance.

128/366 peppermint geraniums

I had to go to a rehearsal on Tuesday evening, which prompted me to go buy some snacks to have on hand. This time, I only went as far as the corner store for Cheddar Bunnies. I ended up only eating a dark chocolate square during the rehearsal, but the outing provided me with my picture of the day. I've always liked the patterned tiles on the store's facade, and I finally got a picture of them that was halfway interesting.

129/366 open

With no ideas for Wednesday pictures, I suggested to Steve that we go out to dinner. A new wine bar and restaurant, St. Vincent, had opened that week in the old Heart wine bar space, and I was curious to see how it was. Heart had been great for a cheese plate or a sandwich, but we hadn't really had much that was good there in the way of hot food. (They had altered their menu to a "Mission Picnic" approach by the time we got around to trying it last year.) The new place, however, has a nice menu of small plates and entrees for dinner. Steve and I got a few dishes to share, as well as their housemade pretzel. Sadly, they didn't have any non-alcoholic drink options for me (yet), but their wine selection looked great. Steve stuck to beers this time and was quite happy with the ones he tried.

130/366 st. vincent pretzel

I waited until evening once again to take my picture for Thursday. I figured I'd shoot some of the produce that Steve was bringing home from the farmers market, but he found chives with flowers at the corner store. Although I remember chives growing near my house as a kid, the chives sold in stores around here rarely have the flowers on top.

131/366 edible bouquet

And more purple flowers for Friday. My search for chocolate coconut water continued that day, and this time I managed to find some at Bi-Rite Market. (It was indeed quite tasty: like chocolate milk, but not as thick.) Outside the store, there were some pretty lilacs for sale—another thing that grew near our house in MI when I was younger.

132/366 lilacs for sale

Last, a food picture. I guess I had to make up for not starting the week with one on Sunday. Steve made basil ice cream from the Bi-Rite Creamery book on Saturday. Actually, it was lemon basil ice cream, since he saw lemon basil at the farmers market near work and decided to try some. It was definitely more lemony than regular basil. The ice cream was tasty, but I think I might prefer regular basil next time.

133/366 (lemon) basil ice cream

Thursday, May 24, 2012

let the may begin

I may have titled the previous post "the week the cat left the bag," but the general public of the internets didn't find out about my pregnancy until week 18 of Project 366. (It was week 14 of the pregnancy—just to make things more complicated if you're trying to keep track.) I figured I would share the news on Monday, so Sunday was a food picture day.

Steve tried out our new Bi-Rite ice cream book by making meyer lemon ice cream, and I suggested sandwiching it between a couple store-bought mini gingersnaps. I was just going to use the ice cream sandwiches as one component in a picture with ice cream also in a bowl, but the ice cream in the bowl was melting too quickly. I was also having issues finding a composition that I liked with the sandwiches, the bowl, and the lemons. When I took the bowl of ice cream out of the equation, the picture came together much better.

120/366 mini meyer lemon ice cream sandwiches

Monday was finally the day of the official announcement picture. I had readied the components in advance, wrestling with our printer to print our 12-week sonogram picture on the one piece of photo paper that we had left and figuring out how to prop it up (against a tea light). The sheep was actually a project that I started in late April. I had seen these WoolBuddy needle felting kits at a shop in Glen Park, and I decided to try making one. After all, I was looking for some sort of stuffed animal for my announcement picture, and without really realizing it, I'd been drawn to WoolBuddy animals for pictures in the past. There were a few options for animals, but the sheep was the cutest, since it reminded me of Shaun from Wallace & Gromit.

I got the hang of the needle felting pretty easily, although I had issues figuring out what size to make the body. By the time I started attaching the little balls to it, I realized I was going to run out of wool. So I tried to make it smaller partway through, which resulted in some of the already attached balls not adhering very well in the back. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, though; it just won't be for the baby to play with. The ribbon actually came from some packaging on a chocolate bunny at Easter. It happened to be about the right size and a lovely gender neutral color, so it worked perfectly.

121/366 coming attractions

It was back to more regularly scheduled pictures for the beginning of May on Tuesday: another calendar picture. This time, I used the wood of the bedside table as my background. Sooner or later, I'm really going to run out of ideas for these.

122/366 may

Wednesday felt like a good day for baking, and I broke out an old classic recipe: zucchini bread. The past few years I've been neglecting the old family recipes in favor of Molly Wizenberg's banana bread with chocolate and ginger, olive oil chocolate chip bread, and the pumpkin chocolate chip bread from the Baked cookbook. (I'm sensing a pattern here...) I think the last time I made zucchini bread might have been at my sister Bethany's place in Knoxville or possibly even when she lived in Salt Lake City for a while. In any case, I was craving something of the sort, and I had never taken pictures of the zucchini bread before. The recipe is the one that my grandmother used to make, and it's labeled as being "from Bill Lowry's mother"—friends of the family. It's pretty much a spice cake/bread with zucchini in it. Sometime I'll have to try making the chocolate variation, but I might have to make some banana bread first.

123/366 zucchini bread

The weather was warm on Thursday, and for lack of better picture ideas, Steve and I decided to go have sushi for dinner in Noe Valley. (Yes, I can eat sushi! I just avoid tuna and eat at places that I know are trustworthy.) On the way there, I spotted this monkey in a boutique window. I've taken so many sushi pictures at Hamano in the past; it's probably good that I found something else to shoot for my picture of the day this time.

124/366 argyle monkey

Friday was another milestone in the pregnancy: my first maternity clothes. I was at about 15 weeks at that point, and while I could still button a couple pairs of my regular jeans, they were getting increasingly uncomfortable by the end of the day. (And the hairband extender trick made me feel like my pants were falling down if I was out and about.) So it was time to go shopping. I had previously scouted out the maternity section at the Gap store downtown, so I went back in search of jeans. I got two pairs—one with a demi panel and one with the full panel—and a couple of basic camisoles. (The white one will eventually replace the non-maternity one I've been using for my belly shots.) Anyway, despite my general dislike of shopping, the whole experience wasn't too scary; and the jeans have been an improvement so far.

125/366 new territory

Closing out the week, Cinco de Mayo fell on Saturday. We usually have Rob, Traci, Dan, and Carmen over for chile verde, but we had just seen Rob and Traci on Monday for their (belated) birthday dinner. Instead, we just celebrated with Dan and Carmen, starting the party early so we'd be done eating by Elsa's bedtime. We had virgin mojitos (my suggestion), not-so-virgin mojitos, chile verde, beans, and rice. Elsa had fun playing with her toys on our dining room floor. She even got a few tiny bites of tortilla with chile verde sauce on them—her first taste of Uncle Steve's cooking, such as it was.

126/366 elsa upstairs

That wraps up the month of April. Perhaps I can make a better dent in May now, preferably before June arrives...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

the week the cat left the bag

With the last part of April (and week 17) came the arrival of strawberry season. Sure, we had gotten some strawberries to go on top of our Easter cheesecake a couple weeks before, but now they were in greater supply at the farmers markets. To celebrate, Steve made me some waffles with strawberries on top for breakfast on Sunday, as well as some small strawberry tarts for dessert. We were originally going to make a mascarpone filling for the tarts, but in our efforts to avoid using raw eggs, our improvisations on the recipe didn't quite work out. The mascarpone decided to curdle when Steve started to whip it—probably a temperature issue—and heavy cream wasn't saving it. Rather than dealing with that for the tart filling, Steve made some pastry cream instead, which he mixed with heavy cream to make chiboust or diplomat cream. That ended up working out great, and I got my tart picture after all. Meanwhile, the mascarpone mixture found a use as a topping for my leftover waffles. Less glamorous, but still tasty.

113/366 strawberry tart

On Monday, I was feeling somewhat lazy in the picture department. Rather than taking a lot of pictures, I was reading about taking pictures. I still have a tiny bit left to read from the food photography book I started in January, but I'm also branching out to read more about taking pictures of people. Gotta get ready to photograph my own kid eventually...

114/366 beyond snapshots

Still inspired from the previous day's reading to shoot more with my old 50mm lens, I took a walk to a parklet on Tuesday. I left the 50mm on my camera and tried to get the feel of it again while shooting various flowers. Unfortunately, I suspect that that lens is back focusing slightly; several shots were just a little off. (The one below is a bit soft at the front too.) I haven't done any tests to confirm my suspicions, so it could very well be user error that's the problem. However, I don't seem to have that issue with the 35mm lens. It may just be time to send the 50mm in for a tune-up.

115/366 blossoms in 50mm

A trip to Omnivore Books was on the schedule for Wednesday. We had decided on a cookbook as a birthday present for a couple friends, and I figured I'd also buy the Bi-Rite ice cream book for us. We still haven't made anything yet from the ice cream book that I got Steve for his birthday in February, but who was I kidding? We were going to get the Bi-Rite one eventually anyway. Might as well just get it now. For my picture of the day, I shot the Omnivore chicken in its chef's hat. The chicken's been on the counter with the cash register a lot in the past, but it was in the window this time for easier photograph-ment.

116/366 the omnivore chicken

Yet another Noe Valley walk occurred on Thursday afternoon. I can't remember if I actually needed anything in the area this time or not, but I saw a Where the Wild Things Are cake in the window of Noe Valley Bakery, so that made the trip worthwhile. (This was before the passing of Maurice Sendak... RIP.)

117/366 put a wild thing on it

Friday was the day that I made all my phone calls to my family, telling them to expect another grandchild/niece or nephew in October. Dan and Carmen had actually found out via text message on Wednesday evening. The short version of that: It's really not how I wanted to make the announcement, but it's what ended up happening. And since they had been sick for over a week, we hadn't seen them in person in quite a while. I was getting impatient to finally share the news, since I was entering my second trimester, so I guess it was good that we didn't have to wait until we finally saw them again.

Anyway, we had planned to tell Dan and Carmen at one of our usual pizza nights, but we had a string of Dan- and Carmen-less Fridays. This was the second of those, so we went out to Pi Bar to eat our pizza by ourselves again. On the plus side, we got to tell Steve's friend there our news when she asked about our weekend plans. When we got home from dinner, we were also able Skype with Steve's parents and tell them.

118/366 pizza night

Finally, a trip down Church St. on Saturday. We needed some meat for our dinner from the butcher shop, so I went with Steve to get it. There were some interesting metal roses—probably candleholders—outside an antique shop, and they provided me with my photo du jour.

119/366 tabletop trinkets

Sunday, May 13, 2012

back to mid-april

Now that the big announcement is out of the way, I can finally get back to the weekly wrap-ups for Project 366, before I fall even further behind. I'm up to week 16, and that week started with another Sunday lunch picture. Basil was in better supply at the local markets, so it was time to try making the trofie with pesto that had been on my to-do list since we got a bag of said pasta at Christmas. The general idea came from the traditional dish we had in Cinque Terre last fall, although that had green beans and potatoes in with the pasta and pesto. Steve wanted to include those, but I hadn't yet found a recipe that looked promising for that dish as a whole. Meanwhile, I had found a recipe for pesto that I wanted to try. It was on the rustic side, since it was meant to be chopped by hand rather than using a food processor, but it turned out well. We decided that we would use less garlic and a bit of lemon juice the next time around, though.

106/366 trofie with pesto

Monday was actually the day of our first ultrasound—not that I mentioned that when I posted the picture of the day to Flickr. Steve left work a little early to "run errands" and met me there. We got to see an image of the baby and hear the heartbeat for the first time. The ultrasound person also pointed out various parts: arms, legs, heart, bladder, and the top of the head with the brain visible. It was pretty cool. Of course, I didn't take any pictures there; we just came away with a CD of low-resolution images that we couldn't show the general public just yet. So to celebrate and provide me with some actual picture opportunities, we went out to dinner at Beretta that evening. Steve got a cocktail, and I got some (less exciting) lemonade. We ordered fewer dishes than usual—just a pizza and a risotto—but it was very good, as always. We had no problem finishing everything.

107/366 back to beretta

I walked down Valencia Street the next day, in search of a birthday card to send to a nephew. Passing one of the various gift stores, I spotted a sheep jacket like the one Elsa has, so I stopped for a picture.

108/366 sheep's clothing

Wednesday seemed like a good time to walk to Noe Valley, as I made the rounds of my usual photo spots and errands. It gets difficult to find new things to shoot in familiar places, but there were some pretty branches of dogwood outside one of the flower shops this time.

109/366 dogwood branch

Thursday's weather was warmer, so I went out for ice cream. Bi-Rite Creamery is my current favorite, and since they had just released their cookbook, I figured maybe there would be an interesting display with it there. Plus, it was a good excuse to get some roasted banana ice cream along with their ricanelas (snickerdoodle) flavor. Bi-Rite ice creams seem to be a little easier to pair up than some of the more creative flavors at Humphry Slocombe.

110/366 bi-rite book

Friday afternoon featured a haircut, which took me downtown. I wasn't very inspired to take pictures that day, so I went for the easy photo bait in the window of The Children's Place. Mostly, I just liked the strawberry sunglasses.

111/366 strawberry wear

Since I had no other ideas for Saturday outings/pictures, I proposed that Steve and I go to the Ferry Building before lunch that day. I had learned that there was a special goat event going on at the farmers market, and there would be baby goats from Redwood Hill Farm. We didn't wait in line to pet them; I just tried to get pictures from in front of the little kiosk. It was a bit challenging, since there was almost always someone in the way, standing between me and a clear shot of the goats. At least in the picture below, it was a little boy's head that was in the way.

112/366 crazy kids

Well, that concludes another week. I had better start writing up the next before I lose momentum...

Sunday, May 6, 2012

the big news

In case you missed the big announcement on Flickr or Facebook last Monday... Steve and I are happy to announce that we're expecting a baby around October 27! That's right, I'm pregnant—about 15 weeks now.

This is the picture I used to break the news to the internets. It's our first ultrasound picture from around 12 1/2 weeks, along with a sheep that I made recently from a Woolbuddy needle felting kit.

Now that I'm officially out of the first trimester, I'm feeling a bit better. I never really got morning sickness in the typical sense; instead, I just felt kind of icky and almost nauseous if I didn't eat often enough. (No puking, though!) All of that hit right around week 7. You may have noticed that my pictures of the day got kind of lame around March, and that—along with cold, rainy weather—had a lot to do with it. I took a long time to get the blog posts done for those weeks too, because just looking at the pictures from that time made me feel kind of gross again. I still get a little of that almost sick feeling when I need food, but I've figured out the signs now. The trick is eat right away, even if nothing sounds good.

Along with the "ick" came the first trimester fatigue. Up until that point, I would have bouts of feeling extra sleepy, but this was more of a constant tiredness. I really didn't feel like doing much of anything, except maybe sitting and staring, whether at my laptop or the television. And unfortunately, all this was going on while the in-laws were visiting. I tried, but I was probably less social than usual.

Remember all that work I did in January and February, getting pictures on the walls and the ceiling medallion in the dining room finished? Yeah, that started before I was pregnant and finished by the time I found out I was pregnant. It may have sounded like nesting at the time, but I was mostly trying to keep myself busy and knock some things off the to-do list, since I knew we would have plenty to do to make our office into a nursery once I got pregnant. But once I did actually get pregnant, I felt too preoccupied (and cautious about counting metaphorical chickens too early) to start more new projects right away, especially ones that were directly related to getting ready for a baby. Then the fatigue hit and took away any remaining energy I had.

The sick feeling and the fatigue got better sometime around mid-April—about week 11 or 12. But my trade-off for avoiding the nausea seems to be heartburn. I actually started to get it subtly here and there as soon as I got pregnant, before I even knew for sure. It was pretty sporadic for the first trimester, but it's gotten worse in the last couple weeks. I'm managing with the occasional Tums and Pepcid, but I seem to have at least a little heartburn every day now.

The frequent peeing has also started, complete with having to get up once every night since week 7. I really disliked that in the beginning, so I would try to debate whether I really needed to get up and pee. Now, I've just accepted it and learned where the worst of the creaks in the floor are. Anyway, it's certainly less of an inconvenience than having to get up and feed a baby! That will come soon enough.

At week 15, I'm only just starting to show, but I feel like it's perhaps a little more noticeable in the last week. (Maybe it's just because I'm letting myself wear tighter shirts again, now that people know I'm pregnant.) In order to document it all, I've started taking the obligatory "belly pictures." I probably should have taken the first one when I found out I was pregnant, but I was hesitant to start that early for a variety of reasons. First, I knew things wouldn't change very fast in the beginning. Second, I wasn't ready to commit to clothing and background choices just yet, and I wanted to be consistent for all of my pictures. Third, I didn't want to take the chance that I would have a miscarriage and be even more cautious about taking pictures the next time around.

I ended up waiting until 9 weeks—after my 8-week OB appointment—to take my first picture, when I was only just starting to notice a little weight gain. I'd say it's a pretty accurate "before" shot. From there, I started taking them every 2 weeks until the beginning of the second trimester. I've moved to every week now, which might be overkill, but it should be fun to look at the progression anyway. You can see the whole set on Flickr.

I have to say, it's pretty strange to be gaining weight. I think I've been around the same size, give or take 5-8 lbs and a little filling out, since high school. (I know. You're rolling your eyes.) But that's all over now; I just bought my first maternity jeans on Friday. Although they're certainly not my favorite fashion, they're more comfortable and probably more flattering at this point than jeans with zippers and buttons.

So I guess that about covers it for the first trimester! Time to get back to catching up on the weekly Project 365 posts now.