Saturday, August 31, 2013

33 weeks in Geneva.

{Cardigan: Splendid (Anthropologie, non-maternity), Turban: Anthropologie, Tank: ASOS maternity, Leggings: ASOS maternity, Flip flops: Havaianas}
We had our 33 week appointment yesterday, and so far (knock on wood) things are looking great. Homekid's heartbeat was strong, his/her weight is in the 63rd percentile (for swiss averages) falling in somewhere around 5 lbs. 3 or 4 ounces (give or take a lb.), and it looks like based on the femur length we're gonna have a long little one. In fact the doctor was surprised and a bit bemused at just how "tall" baby is shaping up to be.
We're definitely starting the home stretch, which is good, because I'm beginning to feel like a human waterbed, both in composition and in how difficult it's becoming to physically get off of the couch.
We didn't have a lot of time after our appointment to spend in Geneva, but were able to go down and see the lake, Jet d'Eau, and grab a bite to eat for lunch at our favorite pizza place, La Trattoria.
It had been awhile since we had gone there, as it's not a cheap pizza place by any means, but cheap by Geneva standards. It's easy to miss/avoid since it's so close to Gare Cornavin, but it's by far the best pizza we've had in Geneva.
And in my opinion it really should be, being that Doc's pie cost 21 CHF, and mine cost 23 CHF.
Homekid and I are not a cheap date, that's for sure.
{Pizza Quattro Gusti I will see you again in my dreams...}
We also picked up my robe for the hospital yesterday, and I'm pretty excited about it. It's from an Italian textile company called Bassetti, though we found it locally in Geneva. It's long and kimono style, and I can't wait to start wearing it around the house to break it in. It's dark enough that any, er, traumas of the hospital experience should be able to be rectified, and chic enough that I kind of never want to take it off once I put it on. Oh, and a tip that I almost learned the hard way for any first timer preggers out there like myself: don't buy your hospital robe until you get closer to the end of your pregnancy. I tried this same robe on back around 21 weeks, and the S/M size was gargantuan on me. I almost bought it then, but being a little pricey I decided to wait and think about it. I'm so glad I did because when I tried the S/M on again yesterday at 33 weeks, it barely closed. And I'm not done growing yet, obviously. The L/XL fit me like the S/M did 12 weeks ago, so I'm really glad I waited to make the purchase until I was further along. Otherwise I'd have had a surprise at the hospital (and so would everyone else).    
So long as everything proceeds on the path we've laid out, and no suspecting complications with the delivery arise, I get to birth this kid at the fancy hospital. How fancy? Their website actually touts them as striving to make your hospital experience feel more like a hotel experience. (Ohhh Switzerland, how I love you sometimes...) You're also required to bring your own slippers - is that normal?
A la prochaine friends...

Friday, August 30, 2013

28th Annual Salon des Vins

{It's the mosssst wonderful timmmmme of the yearrrrr....}
Ah yes, the most wonderful time of the year - Thoiry's annual Salon des vins. The official signaling of the start of fall (pour moi). The time to restock your cave. The time to walk home with 18 bottles of wine just because you can. A free wine festival that lasts for three days, with endless amounts of vendors. Vendors as far as the eye can see! It's a beautiful thing.
Granted, this year will be different, for obvious reasons. But as I'll be the sober friend at this year's Salon des vins, I've got a very important job: to force Doc and my friends to drink lots of wine and tell me the ones I'll like. Maybe as supervisor I'll have to do a lot of standing around and taking notes, but once this winter rolls around and I can walk into our cave and pick out a nice Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Jura Yellow wine, or Jura white, it'll make it all worth it.
I'm also curious to see how many vendors try to serve me up a glass of wine. A few years back we were there with a very obviously pregnant friend, and every vendor said "it's good for the baby..." Le sigh. I'll pass, merci.
What's also funny about being pregnant right now? This is the first time we're going into a Salon des Vins with wines actually in our cave. I feel like we've got a bit of a collection right now, which is nice. We pulled all the bottles out the other day to take an inventory (something I've always wanted to be able to do but never thought we'd have enough wine in the cave to do so), and made a list of what we're hoping to pick up this time. Some of the highlights on this list include a case of Cerdon, a Jura Yellow wine (very rare, only made in our region, and under very particular stipulations to be able to make the claim that they are a yellow wine), a few bottles of a Jura white, a case of my favorite Beaujolais, some Alsatian wine, an Eau de vie (or three), some Lac Leman biere, and 2 bottles of Châteauneuf-du-Pape (one to celebrate with after Homekid gets here, and a young bottle to put away for about 15 years from now). Granted, this is a wish list, but it's important to have dreams, right?   
Also, since I won't be drinking, I'll be embarrassing Doc and our friends by taking a merde-ton of pictures, so I can't wait to share this year's festivities with all of you.
How about you guys? Any fun plans this weekend?
A la prochaine friends...

Thursday, August 29, 2013

DIY: Happy Feet Foot Soak.

The turf war between Homekid and I continues on, and I'm losing. Over the last week or two I've really gotten to that uncomfortable stage, where everything just kind of hurts. The only way I can lie down comfortably is on my side, which is apparently something that Homekid doesn't like, because he/she will continue to punch/kick/poke me until it becomes so uncomfortable that I move. We're also at that point where getting up from the couch to walk upstairs takes strategy and planning. And sometimes a hand. I'm roly, I'm poly, and I'm only getting bigger.
At this point I've been looking for anything to help with the discomforts, especially natural cures, and thought I'd share one for tired feet that we found online. This recipe isn't only for the preggers out there, as this would feel great after a day of hiking, a lot of yoga, or as a way to treat yourself after a hard day at work. It's simple and you probably have all of the ingredients in your kitchen.
Sidenote: This isn't an original recipe from us, as we actually got it and adapted it from the Morton Salt website. If you follow the link you'll also notice that it says to consult a doctor before making this soak if you have diabetes or circulation problems, so, ya know, do that, if you have those issues. Better safe than sorry.  
Happy Feet Foot Soak
(as adapted from Morton Salt)
6 cups of warm water (more or less depending on the size of your basin)
1/4 cup of course salt
1/4 cup of organic baking soda
10 drops of the essential oil of your choice (we used lavender)  
Mix it all together in a basin or bucket. Test the water for temperature first so you don't burn you feet. Soak your feet for up to 15 minutes. Relax.
It was relaxing. It was nice. It reduced some of the swelling in my feet after a 2+ mile walk for bread and pain aux chocolat. My feet also felt softer. Definitely something we have repeated and will continue to repeat.
Do you have a favorite DIY recipe for a foot soak? I'd love to compare notes!
A la prochaine friends...

Thai Pumpkin Soup (and a side of James T. Kirk).

Sometimes when you're pregnant, you get to eat dinner in bed while watching a marathon of vintage Star Trek episodes (the Shat is the Merde after all). Today we hit the 33 weeks pregnant mark, and what I've noticed lately is that I eat like a horse during the say (we're talking insatiable hunger ici), and then at night can only eat light foods like soup, because otherwise I get sick to my belly. With the crazy amount of pumpkin that we processed over the weekend, a pumpkin soup was only...logical. (HA!)
Is it cool enough in your part of the woods for a little pumpkin soup action? Then give this recipe a try. It's got a little bit of heat from the curry paste, and has a really nice myriad of flavors. Since this is a Thai dish, if I were in a stage of life where I could drink, I'd serve this with an Alsatian white or Riesling least that's what the kind gentleman at 2011's Salon des vins told me when I tipsy-ly bought a bottle (read: three) of his Alsatian wine. So please, for me, pour yourself a nice drink while eating this one.
Thai Pumpkin Soup
(adapted from BBC GoodFood)
3 cups of pureed pumpkin
2 tsp. of olive oil
1 onion sliced
1 tbsp. of minced fresh ginger
1 lemongrass, bashed a little
3-4 tbsp. of Thai red curry paste (we used green this time)
400 ml can of coconut milk
4 cups of chicken stock
Juice of 1 lime for seasoning
1 red chili, sliced, upon serving for a tasty spicy garnish (optional)
1. Doc used a 2 3/4 quart sized round Le Creuset cast iron dutch oven pot for this dish. Heat the dutch oven over medium heat and add oil, onion, ginger and lemongrass. Gently cook until softened, about 8-10 minutes. Once softened add the curry paste and stir for one minute. Then add the pumpkin puree, chicken stock, and all but 3 tbsp. of the coconut milk.
2. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. After cooking for 5 minutes, take out the lemongrass.
3. Turn off heat. Let cool for a few minutes and then blend until smooth with an immersion/hand blender, or use a regular blender.
4. Return the pot to the stovetop to heat the mixture all the way through, adding lime juice and salt and pepper to taste.
5. Serve with the remaining coconut milk drizzled on top, and with the red chili slices on top if desired. And don't forget a good Alsatian wine. And maybe some bread slices to dip in. And some Star Trek...ok I won't push my luck.
Bon ap!
A la prochaine friends...

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Pumpkin spice pancakes (and a side of bacon).

Yesterday I awoke to probably the greatest words you can ever hear at 7 am on a Tuesday:
"Hey, do you want pumpkin pancakes for breakfast?"
Like the song of siren, am I right?
Processing a merde-ton of pumpkin this weekend was pretty much the best idea we've ever had, because now we have several cups of pumpkin puree just waiting to be cooked with in the fridge...
...which is really what made this Sunday breakfast on a Tuesday possible.
And in case you were wondering, no, it's not too early for pumpkin recipes.
We've tried many different pumpkin pancake recipes over the years, and this has hands down been our favorite. This recipe is not original to me, as I found it over on Annie's Eats. We did adapt it slightly however, by changing the type of flour used.
Pumpkin Spice Pancakes
(as adapted from Annie's Eats)
Makes about 8 medium sized pancakes...
1 1/4 cup of whole spelt flour
2 tbsp. of brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. of ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. of ground nutmeg
Dash of ground ginger
Dash of ground cloves
1 cup of milk
1/2 cup of pumpkin puree
1 large egg
2 tbsp. of melted butter
Additional options for serving on top of pancakes:
Butter or salt butter (I prefer salt butter)
Maple syrup or an herb infused maple syrup
Cinnamon sugar, powdered sugar or cinnamon-nutmeg sugar
Whatever your little heart desires on top of pancakes!
1. In a medium sized bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients and stir with a fork or whisk to combine.
2. In a different medium sized bowl or large measuring cup (preferably something with a pour spout), mix together the wet ingredients. Stir to combine.
3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and sitr/whisk until combined. (It's ok if there are some lumps in the batter...)
4. Find an oven safe dish. Preheat oven to 200 degree F. (This is where you'll keep your done pancakes while the others cook, unless you're just serving them up as they cook...)
5. Grease a skillet or griddle with butter. Heat on a medium flame. Once the skillet or griddle is hot, add 1/3 of a cup of batter to the pan. Cook until bubbles form on the surface. Flip with a spatula, but not at the first sign of bubbles, give them a second to get going before flipping. Cook the other side until golden brown, or whatever your desired level of pancake doneness. Serve up the pancake to your hungry self or friends, or put in the oven safe dish in the oven to keep warm. Repeat this process until all of the batter has been transformed into delicious disks of pumpkin-y goodness, and regrease the pan as necessary.
Enjoy with a big steaming cup of coffee and some bacon, because life is just better with coffee and bacon.
A la prochaine friends...

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Styling the Bump: 32 Weeks.

{32 weeks and 5 days}
Wow, it's been awhile since I've done a styling the bump post - maybe because all I've been wearing lately is Lululemon and Nike for my walks, as that's all that was comfortable in the stifling heat. Now that temperatures are dropping, I can finally break out some of my fall worthy clothes, including some of my new maternity swag.
Yep, I finally took the plunge and went over to the ASOS site to check out their maternity line, and I was very impressed. Up until this point I was beginning to think there were no options for my taste, at least options that were affordable, having been previously disappointed with H&M's summer and fall selection. I pretty much fell in love with everything on the ASOS site, and ordered up a few things to (hopefully) carry me through until the end. So far I'm very happy with everything, from cost to sizing.
Flip flops: Havaianas
Leather jacket: Mike and Chris (old), non-maternity - similar found here
Now if the temperatures can just drop enough to where I can break out the beanies, boots and scarves, I'll be the happiest pregger ever.
A la prochaine friends...

Fig drop.

As you guys know, my gardening skills have been earned trial-by-fire-like here in SwitzerFrance. Having no prior gardening experience prior to 3.5 years ago, I've learned everything by doing. That means that for all of the victories there are also some inevitable setbacks.
This is our second season getting figs with our potted fig trees, though the first year for all but one of the trees.
Of our seven fig trees in large pots that are currently producing figs, all look healthy and happy, except for one...
...hello sad little yellow figs.
I did a bit of research on why the figs on this tree are turning yellow, and I can pretty safely say that the cause has been lack of consistent/enough watering.
I've definitely been a little lazier this year when it's come to watering the plants, being pregnant and all, but coming into this season I was also wrong in assuming that being somewhat established trees (over 2 years old for all but one of them) would mean that they would not only need, but want, less water.
I was wrong. Apparently this is only true for established trees that have been planted in the ground. Why is this? Because their roots can search deep in the ground for the appropriate amount of water, where potted figs are slaves to their pots (and those caring for them).
I guess I should feel lucky that only one fig tree is having this problem. It's definitely gotten me to step up my consistency with watering all of the trees though, as I'd love to be able to have a nice harvest in the next month or so.
How do you recognize this problem before it's too late? These figs started looking a little dried out, and felt a little soft and spongy to the touch. Since I obviously didn't correct the problem, they then continued to turn from green to yellow. None have fallen off on their own, however I have knocked into two of the attached yellow figs and knocked them off that way (not on purpose). I'm pretty sure that falling off on their own would be the final step in this tree's 2013 fig harvest demise.
So how do you fix this problem? According to what I've researched, if the problem is lack of watering or consistency in watering, well, change that. If you catch the problem soon enough you shouldn't lose your whole harvest. I noticed that with my French Brown Turkey tree I was able to correct this problem when they were at the spongy and dry looking phase by giving the tree some extra water. That tree has looked great ever since, and has 20 medium sized figs on it that I hope will continue to ripen. It may be too late for this little Italian cutting however, as we're at the yellow fig phase, but hey, you live and you learn.  
If for some reason the changes I've made make a difference I'll be sure to let you guys know.
Now I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that my other six trees continue looking healthy and give us some treats in September!
A la prochaine friends...

Monday, August 26, 2013

A New Twist: Fig Tree Propagation Update Six

Changes are happening this week (some good, some maybe bad?), and it's nice to be able to report on it after a quiet past few weeks.
For cutting #1, in the left window of our living room, not much of a change in the root nubs...
...but something weird is happening with the leaves. They're curling a bit, and I'm not sure why. Maybe the leaves are suffering because the root system hasn't kicked in yet? Definitely something to keep an eye on.
As for cutting #2, we're still looking good! The one root that has sprouted continues to grow, with an increase in length of the main root and more tiny side root shoots coming off of the main one. I think we're still a few weeks away from potting this one.
As for the leaves of cutting #2, the branch coming out of the top third of the cutting continues to grow, but the leaves further down under the water line by the roots are about the same size as last week.
Cutting #3, located in the right window of our living room, is being potted today. This is new and exciting for me because this will be the first time that I'm potting a fig cutting from water. Every other time that I've propagated figs has been directly into soil, prior to the growth of roots. I'm a little nervous that I may hurt the roots when potting it, since there are SO many roots (as can be seen in the picture above), but hey, there's a first for everything, right?
As for the leaves on Cutting #3, the leaves look a little bigger than last week, but growth has definitely slowed from previous weeks. Also the leaves have yellowed slightly (difficult to tell in the picture), so I think that potting it now is a good idea!
Cutting #4, in the same 1 liter Le Parfait jar as Cutting #3, is also being potted today. I never got around to getting my dreamboat fabrique en France indoor ceramic pots (not yet at least, maybe for Cutting #1), so terra cotta it is. I wasn't going to pot the two of these cuttings at the same time, but it's time. The roots of the two of these cuttings consume so much of the jar, that I don't want to hurt them by leaving them in the jar any longer. So into soil they go.
As with Cutting #3, the leaves on Cutting #4 are also a little larger, but the growth appears to have slowed in the same way. The leaves of Cutting #4 have yellowed a bit as well.
{Root systems of Cuttings #3 & #4}
As for Cutting #5, still nothing new to report. The root nubs are looking the same, maybe a little bigger, it's debatable... are the leaves. This cutting appeared to be much at the same stage of growth as Cutting #1, until this week. No curling of the leaves in this cutting, not yet at least. I'm curious to see if these leaves begin to curl in the same manner as Cutting #1. We shall see... Also there appears to be a new bud opening a little lower down the cutting from the leaves. Again we'll have to see.
At this point, after being involved with these cuttings for 6 weeks, I'd say that when comparing propagating fig cuttings in soil vs. propagating fig cuttings in water, I prefer to propagate them in soil. It is a little more work in the beginning, as you need to have a pot and soil to work with (sounds easy but sometimes you'd be surprised), but once they're in the pot, they're in there, and you don't need to worry about potting it once roots have developed. I've never had a fig cutting not root in soil, but as can seen with the above pictures, we're still waiting on roots for 2 out of 5 attempted cuttings in water. I also don't know what shock potting the current cuttings with roots in soil is going to cause. The less you need to mess with transplanting early in the cuttings life, I say the better.
Remember that Control Cutting? The one I potted the typical way I propagate figs (in soil), to test the methods side by side? Well, this is it, after six weeks. The other good thing about propagating directly in soil is that once this one began to show signs of life (i.e. growth of leaves), I put it outside, and it was able to not only get more and better sun, but was able to get knocked around in a little bit of wind and (very) little rain. Yes, it has taken more work than the cuttings in water, but I think this little tree is pretty strong now, as the few thunderstorms we've had have been pretty heavy duty.
{New bud forming near the base of the Control Cutting}
However, I do feel that there is an exception to this rule. Propagating a cutting in soil requires some constant care. I like the soil to be constantly moist (not soaked though), which means you need to physically be there to water it, or have someone whom you trust with your cutting to do so. I firmly believe that no one knows your plants better than you do, so a change like that can cause problems when trying to root a cutting in soil. Difference in watering style (both in frequency and quantity) can make all the difference at this point of the growing process. However, I would feel much more confident asking someone to care for a cutting in water and saying "fill the water to {here} when it starts to evaporate, and don't move it from the window." And I don't mean if you're going to just be away for a weekend, more like if you're going away for a few weeks. One could argue that maybe you shouldn't try to propagate a fig cutting before going away, but sometimes you're lucky enough to come across cuttings at inopportune times. So for those moments, I think this method would be a great alternative to doing a rain dance before leaving for a trip.  
Phew, ok, long update. How you doing? Thanks for hanging in there. I'm off to pot Cuttings #3 and #4, wish me luck that I don't completely hurt all of the roots!
Check back here next Monday for my week 7 update!
Confused with what's going on here? Want to review past week updates? Here's some links for you then!
A la prochaine friends...

Fall fever.

 {Thoiry, France}
I've got it, and I've got it bad. With 70-75 degree temperatures predicted for the next 10 days, I can't help but cast aside my beloved mirabelles and reine claudes for anything and everything involving pumpkins, apples and lots of spices.
 {The Jura Mountains, Thoiry, France}
 {Vineyards and CERN}
 {St. Pierre's Cathedral, Geneva, Switzerland}

{Looking out over the vineyards from CERN}
We jumped on the opportunity of cooler temps to process a ton of pumpkin and butternut squash this weekend, giving us somewhere around 7-8 cups of pumpkin puree. We then wasted no time whipping up a batch of pumpkin spice pancakes (recipe to come so keep an eye out). The mirabelles in the bowl next to me were definitely giving me the stink eye, but they'll get over it. If they want to be devoured maybe they shouldn't show up as late as they did this year.
 {Bruyere, our fall/winter window box flower of choice}
 {Old Town, Geneva, Switzerland}

{Restaurant 2, or R2 as it's commonly referred to, CERN}
I've been pining for fall for so many weeks, and now that we're in the last week of August (!!!) I can't help but succumb to the happy fuzzy feeling of what is to come. First and foremost, the salon des vins this weekend, which for me is the official signaling of the start of fall (sorry Labor Day). Not long after we can look forward to leaving our windows open without flies finding their way in from the fields below, the leaves changing, collecting walnuts from local trees, roasted chestnuts, grey skies (can't wait), sweaters and boots, apple cider, the forthcoming holidays (because really isn't the feeling of anticipation of the holidays the best part of it all?), figs off the tree in town (and hopefully on our potted fig trees), apples in season, planting our fall/winter window boxes, cool hikes, cheese season, pumpkins, football, and oh yeah, that little addition to our tiny family we're waiting on in October. Excuse me while I wax poetic, but how can I resist when we're moving from my least favorite season to my most favorite season?
 {Roasted chestnuts in Geneva, Switzerland}
Another reason I'm so excited? I feel behind, having missed all of the fall last year for Bikram Yoga Teacher Training in California. Los Angeles in the fall is not for me.
 {My favorite fig picker at my favorite fig tree}
As for Homekid's impending arrival, we're starting to feel a little more prepared (famous last words?), or at least, as prepared as you can ever be for your first child. (Let's not even talk about the fact that I've never changed a diaper before...) We've pretty much gotten everything that we *think* we need, with a few more things to pick up, but ready or not this kid is gonna get here sometime (hopefully) before Halloween. I'm due October 17th, but being that I was born 3 weeks early and Doc was born late, I don't really know what to expect...take the average of the two and we should be right on time, right?

I feel like I've been pregnant for FOREVER, but yet at the same time it makes me sad to realize that this chapter is coming to an end. (Of course those latter thoughts are furthest from my mind when finding a comfortable way to sit or lie down escapes me...) Regardless, I'm excited that my favorite month of the year will be met (hopefully) at some point with a little pooping crying squishy bundle of awesome.
 {Renversé at one of our favorite little spots, Geneva}
 {Apples in Switzerland}
Today feels like a wonderful happy day with exciting things to come, which is a great change from the dog days of pregnancy that summer presented. I'm going to take this happiness and run slowly walk with it today, and probably make myself some pumpkin pancakes. Or maybe some pumpkin cupcakes. And definitely pumpkin risotto for dinner. And have no fear fellow pumpkin lovers, I'll be sharing the recipes as we jump into fall (I've already jumped), because what fun is pumpkin madness if there is no one to share it with?  
Happy Monday everyone, wherever you are in the world!
A la prochaine friends...