Monday, January 31, 2011


Bryan got this game for Christmas, and we have definitely put it to good use. Half luck and half strategy, we have grown to love (and hate) this game. So have our friends. And family.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cloudy Day

We've had a bit of a heat wave here in North Idaho over the last week. The snow has melted, and the temperatures remind me of early Spring. I'm sure it will only be a matter of days until the snow and single-digit temperatures return.

But for now, the birds are out, finding things to eat. I snapped a few pictures the other day. It was a particularly gray day, and the pictures turned out looking almost black and white.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Uncle Samuel

My brother Samuel has been staying with us off and on for a while now. He graduated from Western Oregon University last May, worked the summer painting houses, and was all geared up to move to Wales to play Rugby in September. But, after arriving in England, Customs decided they didn't like his story, and put him on a plane back home. So he's been doing odd jobs and enjoy his freedom until he leaves for Colorado this weekend. He is going to be playing Rugby for the Glendale Raptors. We're excited that we might actually get to see him play, but we're going to miss having him around. And Chloë is definitely going to miss her favorite Uncle Samuel.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thai Coconut Soup

I have been making this soup for a couple of years now, and my husband enjoys it almost as much as I do, I think. I tripled the recipe last week when my family was in town, and I was even able to serve it to my dad, who doesn't eat gluten or dairy. It has an amazing blend of flavors, and a is a hearty and satisfying soup.

I love this soup.

Thai Coconut Soup

serves 4

1 lb chicken breast cut into thin strips or chunks
3 tbs fish sauce
1 1/2 tbs lime juice
1 quart and 3/4 c chicken stock
3 stalks lemongrass, bottom third only, peeled, smashed and cut into 2" pieces (or, the zest of about half a lemon)
1" piece of ginger, peeled and cut into thirds
1/2 cup long-grain rice
1 3/4 cups unsweetened coconut milk (15 oz can)
2 fresh red chilies, seeded and sliced thin, crosswise (or a tbs or sweet chili sauce)
3 tbs chopped fresh cilantro, optional

In a shallow glass dish, combine the chicken with the fish sauce and lime juice and set aside.

In a large saucepan bring the broth, lemongrass and ginger to a simmer.

Add the rice, then continue simmering until nearly done, about a quarter of an hour. (I usually use brown rice, and I let it simmer a good 45 minutes.)

Add the coconut milk, bring to gentle boil. Stir in the raw chicken with the lime juice and fish sauce. Let boil for two minutes to cook the chicken, then return to simmer.

Stir in the chilies and cilantro, and serve!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Seven Months Old

In the busyness that preceded Christmas, I never got around to updating you all on Chloë's six month birthday. And now here she is, seven months old!

She's quite the adorable baby, and her hair is even growing back! It's not quite as dark as when she was born, but at least the poor thing isn't bald anymore. She weighs in at 17 pounds, fully clothed. She isn't quite keeping up with her percentiles of her earlier, chubbier months, but I guess that's what happens when she has to be moving at all times. And she's 27 1/2 inches long, keeping up with her 70th and 80th percentiles for height.

She is a very active child. I know every mother must think this, but I have a non-stop baby on my hands. Even when she's sleeping. Her daddy has taken to calling her hands "demon hands," which sounds awfully mean, but her hands are her own worst enemy when she is trying to fall asleep. When she does finally fall asleep, a hand will creep up, fingers slowly wiggling, and grab her pacifier away from her peaceful face. And then she wakes up, crying. The only way to keep her hands from moving is if they can hold my hand. She will be crying and fighting sleep, but as soon as I let her grab my hand, she'll pass out. Then I'll try to slowly pull my hand away, and she'll wake up crying, and her hands will begin to move. It's very strange. Apparently I had a bit of a hand fetish when I was a baby. Huh. Needless to say, nap time has become a bit of a struggle. She doesn't sleep nearly as much as she did a month ago. Those silly hands of hers just won't let her. And then she sleeps 8 to 10 hours at night, but still wakes up twice to eat. I know I could work on weaning her from her midnight snacks, but I'm in no hurry.

She still loves her bouncy chair, and can kick and bounce herself for an hour or so while I'm making dinner. And she absolutely loves her Jonny Jump Up. She'll jump for an hour and a half in that thing. I think she would jump longer if she didn't get hungry. That kid must burn a lot of calories, because she still eats every two hours. She still nurses most of time, but I try to give her something "solid" every day to help eliminate the diaper blow-out issue. Usually I give her rice cereal with a little of the apple sauce I made last Fall. I introduced bananas a couple of weeks ago, and she seemed to like them mashed with her rice cereal, and tolerated them in her fancy mesh feeder. But she started having episodes of inconsolable crying in the middle of the night (as well as some strange looking diapers, which I will refrain from posting pictures of), so we quit giving her bananas. And no more middle of the night screaming. (I read an interesting article recently about complex carbs being difficult to digest, and probably not the best thing to introduce right away. Maybe I'll try pureed meats next.) She watches us very intently when we eat, watching the spoon or fork pass from the plate... to the mouth... back to the plate. And somehow, she figured out how to reach for our beverages and grip with her curved palms and pull the glass to her mouth. It is ridiculously adorable. As long as we're drinking water, we'll let her lap at it for a while. We recently got her a sippy cup, which she enjoys chewing on a bit.

She can sit up without assistance, but still topples over occasionally. She would probably do better if she had more practice, but since the floors on the main level of our house are hard wood, I only let her practice on our bed, or at friends' houses on carpet. She's a master at rolling over both directions, but often prefers to lie on her stomach and play with whatever toys I've set in front of her. She loves chewing on everything, including her feet... or other people's feet, if she can get close enough. I'm sure this is related to the fact that she is now had two sharp teeth! They broke through just after New Year's within a couple of days of each other. We had some fussy and drooly days there for a while, but that is to be expected. I have to remember not to absent-mindedly let her chew on my fingers.

All of her exercise routines must be paying off, because the munchkin thinks she can stand up now. Her legs have been able to support her weight since she was a few weeks old, but balance has always been the tricky part. She can manage to stay vertical for 20 or 30 seconds, as long as she has something to lean her diaper bum against. But her squirminess gets the best of her, and she has a ways to go before she's really standing up by herself. We've seen hints of crawling or army crawling, but the wood floors make for a slippery surface with very poor resistance. I'll enjoy my mostly-immobile baby as long as I can.

She is also a very vocal child. She has been exploring the limits of her vocal cords recently, and sometimes squawks, shrieks, or just yells at the top of her lungs. It is quite humorous. And she still likes to babble, lots of "bahbahbah"s and sometimes "Mamama"s, which I like to think she says intentionally. It's so amazing to see recognition in her face of the simple commands we're trying to use consistently: "Don't fuss," "don't bite," and "hold still" while we're changing her diaper and "pay attention" when we're feeding her. We're trying to incorporate a few simple sign language gestures-really just "please" and "more" for now.

She is usually a very happy, smiley and sometimes giggly child. She is a bit ticklish on her ribs, neck, and bottoms of her feet. And she enjoys games of babbling back and forth at each other. Some of our friends were visiting a few nights ago, and 5-year-old Bella had Chloë giggling for quite some time while Chloë was in her Johnny Jump Up. It was so adorable. Chloë is usually friendly, but has recently become a little shy, especially towards guys, despite our best efforts to make sure she gets passed around a lot. She sure does love her daddy though, and gets very excited when he comes home from work.

We love our little bundle of energy.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

I managed to get a Christmas card and newsletter out to a few friends and family members this year. I realize it is a bit late to be wishing you a Merry Christmas, but I thought I would share this anyhow.

Our Dear Family and Friends,

Greetings to you this cold and snowy season! This year has been full of many, many blessings, and we have so much to be thankful for.

We bought our first house in April, and moved into our cute little 7 bedroom home in May. Built in 1940 with many updates since, it has wonderful charm, a big kitchen, and a cozy living room with a fire place. We are slowly working on remodeling one of the bathrooms, but have been taking our time. We have a double lot with a big back yard and lots of big trees, and are two minutes away from the biggest grocery store in town. We love it.

After working for almost three years as a BSN RN at Good Samaritan, I started my indefinite maternity leave on June 1st. I have thought about going back for one shift a week when the holidays are over, but am not sure what I will do. I love working as a nurse, but there are many things about the job that I don't miss. I have also considered the possibility of doing online school or apprenticing to become a midwife, but that may still be a few years away. We shall see.

On June 13th, I gave birth to Chloë Ann Blakey, who weighed in at 7 pounds, 10 ounces, and was 20 1/2 inches long. Born at home, we were grateful for her healthy arrival, and finally being done with morning sickness. She has chubbed up quite nicely, and is a very busy and energetic baby, bouncing and rolling over, singing and babbling, and tasting everything she can get her hands on. She enjoys grabbing handfuls of our face flesh, practicing her intense abdominal workout in her bouncy chair most afternoons, and loves rubbing soft things on her face when she's sleepy.

When Chloë was a few days old, she developed a hemangioma behind her right ear. It has slowly grown since, but we started seeing a dermatologist in Spokane in October, and are trying a new topical treatment that seems to have stopped the growing. We are thankful that it is benign and gives her very little trouble, and that the specialist says that such growths normally shrink in a couple of years, and should eventually disappear altogether.

We could not have anticipated how much joy our little girl has brought into our lives. We love being parents.

July marked the beginning of Bryan's 5th year at EMSI (Economic Modeling Specialists Incorporated), a small economics and consulting firm here in Moscow. He is the head of the development department, and gets to manage the writing of the computer code that allows the website to function. He enjoys working there, and hopes to be there for many years to come.

In August we flew to Iowa for a mini family reunion where Chloë got to meet Great Grandparents and Great Aunts and Uncles. It was special visiting the farm where her great great great grandfather first settled. Being the first grandbaby and the first great grandbaby on both sides of our family, she is used to being held most of the time.

In November, Bryan and I celebrated four years of marriage. We are more madly in love than ever, and absolutely love our cozy little life here in Moscow. We have a wonderful church and many great friends, and Bryan's parents and three sisters all live in the area. We love our Sunday Feasts out at the folks, and the baby always gets passed around. My parents will soon be living closer, at least some of the time. They are in the process of buying the house right next door to us, which we are very excited about. They still have their little farm in Bonners Ferry, so they will be doing a bit of back and forth.

Blessings to you and yours. Stay warm, keep in touch, and have a wonderful Christmas.

Much love, Bryan, Bess and Chloë

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Crème Brûlée

I made crème brûlée for the first time last week. I got eight handsome ramekins for Christmas, and was excited to try them out. Since my mother-in-law's and brother-in-law's birthdays are shortly after Christmas, I had a great excuse to try them out. This is the recipe my sister-in-law Jessie always uses, and it turned out perfectly. If you're at all like I am, and love good food but feel unqualified to try to make anything more complicated than a batch of cookies, I can assure you that this was surprisingly simple. I used one and half of these measurements for eight ramekins, and it was the perfect amount.

Crème Brûlée
serves 5 or 6

1 egg
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
3 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier (I used Kahlua instead)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (I don't have a Kitchen Aid, so I just used my hand mixer), mix the egg, egg yolks, and 1/2 cup of sugar together on low speed until just combined. Meanwhile, scald the cream in a small saucepan until it's very hot to the touch but not boiled. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the cream to the eggs. Add the vanilla and Grand Marnier and pour into ramekins until almost full.

Place the ramekins in a baking pan and carefully pour boiling water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the custards are set when gently shaken. Remove the custards from the water bath, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until firm.

To serve, spread 1 tablespoon of sugar evenly on the top of each ramekin and heat with a kitchen blowtorch until the sugar caramelizes evenly. Allow to sit at room temperature for a minute until the caramelized sugar hardens. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Teeth That Move

Disclaimer: If you are easily grossed out by teeth or gums or saliva, this may not be the post for you to read. But it's really not very gnarly, I promise.

My teeth weren't really that crooked. A little, sure, but not so much that I would have decided to get braces on them when I was 25. But when I was in my early teens, the dentist looked at an x-ray and said that my adult canines had come in sideways and were basically stuck resting on top of the roots of my other adult teeth. There was no way they were going to do a 90 degree turn on their own. The problem was, baby teeth won't hold up much more than 35 or 40 years. It was inevitable that they were going to fall apart if I lived to see my 40th birthday. So I figured that I would probably need braces and procedures at some point, but we never got around to it during my high school years. Then came college and tuition, and no time for braces then. But then I finished college and got a real job. By this time I was married, and would have much preferred to spend thousands of dollars on a luxury vacation, or a decent car, even. But I didn't want my husband to have to kiss a partially toothless woman if we made it to our 40s. So, we made to decision to go ahead and spend the money and get 'er done.

This month we hit the two year mark since I've had the metal in my mouth. Here is the brief summary:
January 2009: Get braces. You can't even see the baby teeth with no brackets because they're hiding behind the teeth next to them.

June 2009: Have oral surgery to extract the baby teeth, then cut through the gums and bone, bond brackets on the buried canines, attach chains to the brackets, close the gums, then attach the ends of the chains to my braces.

Fall 2009, Winter 09/10, Spring 2010: Tension on the chains that are slowly getting shorter, but no other changes.

May 2010: One of the canines finally breaks through.

July 2010: Laser off some of my gums to retrieve a lost chain and give the slow tooth less resistance.

October 2010: Bond real brackets on to both teeth, and tie them in!

January 2011: Take off the silver brackets and bond ceramic brackets, and tie them in!

Here is another shot from yesterday. My jaw is crooked, so my bottom teeth will always look like they're sliding to my left. Oh well. But look at those beautiful canines! So maybe they underestimated the guess of two years, but at least we're making progress. Maybe another 6 months?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Ali Has A Giveaway

Greetings and Happy New Year! What a great year it has been.

My awesome friend Ali is doing another giveaway. And since it for her Blogiversary, she's giving away some amazing hand made items. Check it out.

I'll post more later.