Monthly Archives: March 2012

Winter minestrone.

My mom has a phrase that she uses quite often: “eat on it.” She’s not a picky eater, in fact it’s fair to say that she’s the opposite of a foodie. So she often advises me to “make a big pot of ____” and then you can just “eat on it” all week long.

And when you’re preggers and also happen to work at home, that’s great advice because you do crave certain things for weeks on end (for me, tomato or anything acidic), you’re trying to get more of certain things (for me, iron), and you’re too tired to motivate to cook or prepare a meal for just yourself.

Besides being just the prettiest color combination you ever did see when it’s cooking up, I’m not lying when I say this is a reeeeallly special minestrone recipe–it originally appeared in Gourmet Jan 2009 from Melissa Roberts and Maggie Ruggiero. Or at least myself and the Mr. (who actually normally doesn’t even like soup) think so! I didn’t even add the traditional pasta–I think the Savoy cabbage filled in for that textures–and it was still delicious. Besides containing the best of winter’s bounty (swiss chard, carrots, escarole and Savoy cabbage), what makes it so tasty I think is that you add ingredients one at a time and then cook them for a really long time (2+ hrs)!!

It doesn’t even require a chicken or veggy broth; instead you make a soffrito, which is a fancy way of saying you brown pancetta (you’re not supposed to eat deli meats so I used bacon instead, but if you’re veggie you can easily skip entirely), onion, celery, carrots, and the ribs from the chard—for a good 45 minutes and then you brown the tomato paste. This seems like the ideal soup for using up your CSA box and it also freezes well if you do tire of it before it’s all gone… but I highly doubt that. And with all those leafy greens and beans, it’s also a one-pot-meal and who doesn’t love to “eat on” those?

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Report: When baby makes three.

Now that we’re expecting our first, the 2011 study “When Baby Makes Three: How Parenthood Makes Life Meaningful and How Marriage Makes Parenthood Bearable” put on by the University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project absolutely fascinated me.

Elephant Family Baby Shower Invites from Aspacia Henspetter for Minted.

The study found that married parents are happier and less prone to depression than unmarried parents–which speaks to the strength of the institution of marriage, even as 41 percent of American kids are born out of wedlock. But here’s the bad news: Married parents are generally happier before kids come into the picture. HUGE bummer. “Mothers and fathers are at least 8 percentage points less likely to be “very happy” in their marriages, compared to their childless peers.”

Here’s my executive summary of how to be happy once kids enter the picture, but read on for more details from the report: Don’t think that more kids will make life worse. Make sure to have a weekly date night. Going to religious services as a family is extremely important. Try to define things more as ‘we’ and not as ‘I.’ Try to get the Mr. to help out more around the house. And try to be generous with your spouse at all times–little things count!

They looked more closely at the couples who were extremely happy with kids and found that they shared ten things in common.

  1. COLLEGE EDUCATION. In sum, young married parents who are college educated experience stronger marriages than their less-educated peers.
  2. $. Married parents who report above-average levels of financial stress—that is, worrying frequently that their income will “not be enough to meet your family’s expenses and bills”—are consistently more likely to rate their chances of separation or divorce as high, and less likely to describe themselves as “very happy” in their marriages.
  3. SHARED GENDER ROLES. Both mothers and fathers are less divorce prone and happier when they report that housework (e.g., cleaning, cooking, taking out the garbage) and childcare are “shared equally.”
  4. FAMILY AND FRIENDS. Whether they’re supportive of the marriage and kids or not.
  5. RELIGION. Couples who regularly attend a church, synagogue, or mosque together enjoy higher levels of marital success. Couples who believe that God is at the center of their marriage are also more likely to report high levels of commitment and a pattern of generous behavior toward one another.
  6. BELIEFS. Evidently, married parents who hold a more familistic view of life enjoy especially happy marriages.
  7. SEX. Sexually satisfied wives enjoy a 39-percentage-point premium in the odds of being very happy in their marriages. Sexually satisfied husbands enjoy a 38-percentage-point premium in marital happiness. Women are more likely to report that they are sexually satisfied when they report that they share housework with their husbands.
  8. GENEROSITY. Generosity is defined here as “the virtue of giving good things to one’s spouse freely and abundantly,”and encompasses small acts of service (e.g., making coffee for one’s spouse in the morning), the expression of affection, displays of respect, and a willingness to “forgive him/her for mistakes and failings.”
  9. COMMITMENT. The commitment scale for this study specifically taps the extent to which spouses see their relationship in terms of “we” versus “me,” the importance they attach to their relationship, their conviction that a better relationship with someone else does not exist, and their desire to stay in the relationship “no matter what rough times we encounter.”
  10. TIME. We found that, for most married parents, time spent alone with one’s spouse and time spent with one’s children both predict higher levels of marital solidarity. Specifically, couples who spend time alone together—talking or sharing an activity—are significantly more likely to be happy in their marriages and less likely to be vulnerable to separation or divorce. Figure 18 indicates that husbands and wives who spend quality time with their spouses once a week or more are about 50 percent more likely to be “very happy” in their marriages. The figure also suggests that the link between couple time and relationship quality is particularly salient for wives. In other words, a regular date night appears to be part of the recipe for marital success among today’s parents. We found that, for most married parents, time spent alone with one’s spouse and time spent with one’s children both predict higher levels of marital solidarity.

There was one other fascinating finding: it turns out that the relationship between family size and marital happiness is not linear, but curvilinear. In other words, according to the Survey of Marital Generosity, the happiest husbands and wives among today’s young couples are those with no children and those with four or more children.

About 18 percent of wives with one to three children are “very happy” in their marriage, compared to 26 percent of wives with no children or four or more children, after controlling for differences in education, income, age, race, and ethnicity. Likewise about 14 percent of husbands with one to three children are “very happy” in their marriage, compared to 25 percent of husbands with no children or four of more children, after controlling for socioeconomic differences. This means that the parents of large families are at least 40 percent more likely to be happily married than the parents of smaller families.

Everything above was lifted directly from the study: When Baby Makes Three: How Parenthood Makes Life Meaningful and How Marriage Makes Parenthood Bearable.

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Enter the Dragon: Dragon cut-out cookies.

I was tasked with favors for our event with Once Upon A Table… such a fun job! I was able to find some dragon cutters on CopperGifts.com.

I had a lot of fun working on my decorating skills. This was my first time using meringue powder for icing and it does give you a lot more control.

I packaged the cookies with some dragon eggs (that yes look a lot like Easter eggs!) and thought they turned out pretty cute!

Now I’m hoping the little kiddo-on-the-way wants a dragon birthday party… or maybe dragon and princesses if it’s a girl… because I’m not sure when else I’ll use these cute cutters! By the way, copper cutters are so much sturdier! Worth the investment if you think you’ll use them a lot.

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Catgut embedding acupuncture.

What is catgut embedding you ask? So did I…. here’s what Groupon had to say.
  • Catgut is a type of cord that is made from the natural fibre in the walls of sheep or goat intestines. It is embedded on the acupuncture points, which enhances the points’ stimulation for 7-10 days. The catgut is later completely absorbed by the body (about 8-10 days).
  • Registered Chinese doctors use 0.6mm needle to embed the catgut, so it’s less painful and easier to absorb
  • The embedding depends on the body-type of the customer and the process includes one-time medical consultation
  • The catgut embedding is done on acupuncture points, which enhances the points stimulation for 7-10 days
  • The process conditions the body and is very effective for weight loss and improved body-immunity
  • Its implantation is a kind of acupuncture, where specific acupuncture points are gently and continuously stimulated till the ailment is cured and desired results are achieved. Prolonged stimulation of acupuncture points can effectively enhance weight loss, shape breasts and promote metabolism, amongst other benefits.

These days with my morning sickness (or all-day sickness rather) I’ve gotten really into acupuncture, but I think I’ll stop short of having catguts injected into my stomach. Thanks anyways Groupon for the lovely offer. (They have seriously the most bizarre offerings here!)

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Enter the Dragon: Puff the Magic Dragon Eggs.

Angie’s dessert was entitled ‘Puff the Magic Dragon Eggs.’ And boy were they incredible!!

Chocolate eggs were covered with molten chocolate and a raspberry drizzle. All you need is a squeeze bottle to make your plates look restaurant quality!

Inside was a surprise!!! Fizz Wiz, which created the most delightful pop and a crackle on your tongue.

And homemade ice cream… well, really, there is nothing better!

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