September 2011


Corn tortillas were a staple in our fridge in Austin.  You can pick up a bag of 10 at HEB for less than a dollar, and they keep in the cheese drawer, and reheat nicely in a hot skillet or directly over the fire on Saturdays when you need breakfast tacos.  There is no supply of corn tortillas here in Penang.  You can get a version of a flour tortilla, even whole wheat ones, and sometimes you can find Old El Paso crispy corn taco shells at the import aisle, but no soft corn.  I miss them.  A lot.

So when I saw masa harina on the same import shelf last week (we got a whole Bob’s Red Mill section – woot!), I took a chance.  How hard could it be?  One whiff of that corny goodness upon cutting the bag open and I didn’t care if it took me all night, we were getting corn tortillas.  Luckily, like most things you can do yourself, it wasn’t so hard, and the end result had me thinking I might never go for a bag of premade ones again.  The texture was phenomenal, and was delivered to my belly in just 45 minutes after an internet search for a recipe.  We even had on hand my favorite soft corn taco toppers: Fantastic brand taco filling (TVP), avocado, grated carrot, salsa, and sprouts.  Yum!!

Homemade Corn Tortillas

  • 1 3/8 cup masa harina
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/8 cup boiling water
  1. Use a spoon to combine masa harina, salt and boiling water in a medium sized bowl.  Cover with a damp towel and allow to rest for about 10-15 minutes, the time it takes to have a post-pool shower with your toddler.
  2. Now that the mixture has cooled, use your hands to kneed the dough inside the bowl.  If it is all crumbly and not sticking together in a ball, add some more warm water.  If it is sticking to the sides of the bowl, add a bit more flour.  I found I didn’t need to add anything, but its a little humid here.
  3. Heat a skillet over med-high heat.  I read cast iron is good, I only had a “eco” non-stick, which worked fine.
  4. Break off enough dough to roll into a golfball sized shape.  Form the ball and replace the damp towel over the dough.
  5. Now’s the time to roll it out.  I used a (imported, precious) ziploc freezer bag, top and sides cut off to make a longer sheet of plastic.  Put the ball between the sheets and roll to about 1/8″ thick.  You could use a tortilla press, or a rolling pin, I used a Nalgene bottle.
  6. Remove the tortilla from the plastic, and place on the hot skillet for 20 seconds.  Flip for 10 seconds.  Flip again – 10 more seconds, this time using a spoon to press on the middle of the tortilla so the sides puff up (this puts steam inside and gives it the great texture.  Keep flipping and pressing, 10 seconds a side until it shows some brown spots and has dried out.  I found each took about 60 seconds.
  7. Remove from heat and store wrapped in foil, wrapped in a kitchen towel.  Repeat with the remaining dough.  Makes 10 7″ tortillas.  I kind of got a rhythm going with forming the ball and rolling out the next one in the 20 and 10 second times where no other action is required.
  8. If you somehow have leftovers (even Miles ate 3 of these), store in foil, in a ziploc bag.  Reheat in the skillet.

I thought I might lump all these thoughts together again, just in case.  In case of what I am not exactly sure, but just in case.

Fifteen Weeks (7/8/2011): Things did not magically get better, but the arrival of a fairy godmother helped out a LOT.  Grandma Linda is here now (VRA! as Miles calls her), and she is constantly tending to Miles, changing his diapers, taking him to play, for walks, reading him stories and last night even putting him to bed.  This leaves me with lots of time to lay in bed.  And I am still very tired.  Not so sick any more, and although she gives me glaring looks when I stand in front of the stove for too long (because I am not resting), I am back to enjoying food and cooking.  My belly popped out last week and there is no hiding it any more. I put in an order with Gap and Old Navy for some end of season summer maternity clothes, and one pair of elastic waistband shorts from ON that for some reason are not maternity that Tim will bring back.  I think by then, I will be good and ready for them.  I’m feeling those little brushy movements almost every day if I concentrate on it.  Trying desperately to get some real exercise, but the air quality here has been horrible due to the slash and burn going on in Indonesia, so I am just staying inside instead.  I should get going on those Pilates videos…maybe next week.

Oh!  And this weekend is our baby moon!  Pangkor Laut, and 2 nights of blissful sleep!  I can’t wait!

16 weeks & alien eyes

Sixteen Weeks (7/13/2011): I woke up today and didn’t even look pregnant.  I tried to show AM my belly and realized it was a joke.  That’s because there is nothing in there but baby, due to the eviction policy over the last 24 hours.  I don’t know who implemented it, but I really don’t appreciate being back to these tricks.  Back to oatmeal, bananas and soda water, at least for another day or so.  Fingers crossed that things get better soon, soon as in before our trip to Bali in less than 2 weeks.  Tim leaves for Austin in 2 days, and I am worried about having enough energy to keep up with Miles, even the part time I have to do with Linda around.

The night before he left, we went to our 4 month appointment at the OB.  More pictures of our (calm!) baby, who now looks just like an alien.  (S)He was sucking his thumb (already a self-soother, nice!) and tracked right on size.  I’m still not quite there in the weight gain arena, but definitely getting a belly and at least back to where I started.

Seventeen Weeks (7/18/2011): OK, so seems my fears about Tim going were a little more than that.  After dropping him off, I had this feeling: oops.  That was a mistake. (I blame the blubbering flood that ensued entirely on pregnancy hormones)  After consulting with Linda, and spending the weekend on afterhours calls with the travel agent, we are headed back to the US today.  Its 36 hours of travel, with Miles in my ever-diminishing lap.  But it will be worth it.

Nineteen Weeks (8/3/2011):  Its been 2 weeks of sweltering Austin, we got through the jetlag OK (lots of staying in bed for me) and are looking forward to going to MI for a climate relief on Friday.  And to see family.  I had a rough week last week, not sure if it was the heat or what, but I spent a lot of time letting Miles wreck havoc (pretty sure our entire pots and pans collection is far from “round” at this point) while I stayed on the couch or in the bed.  This week is much better!  Today I got to go to yoga.  Tim was working so I had some amazing help from friends who also have a 3 month old (!!!) who said yes to watching Miles.  Amazing!  Yoga was great, back at the old studio with my old teacher on her first day back from maternity leave.  I loved being with 20+ other pregnant women, almost all on their first baby (second time around and I fear this mid-point class may be my one and only!).  The energy in the room was fantastic.  I think this is something I have missed out on this time – a chance to really get excited and concentrate on my body.  Miles is wonderful, but takes so much of my time and energy.  The experience motivated me to carve out some “me” time each day when we get back to Penang.  I went to pick up Miles and get some pointers from my new-parent friends about having a toddler and newborn.  I opened the door to silence.  Miles was sitting at the table 75% done with dinner and the little one was cooing in her bouncer.  Wow!  They assured me this state had only been in effect for 30 seconds and asked if Miles always has that much energy.  There was an unmistakeable look of fear in their eyes.  What are we in for??!!

Twenty Weeks (8/13/2011):  Halfway, and things are great!  Feeling good, and the 75F helps out a lot.  Another exciting thing is that I can now feel the baby moving multiple times a day and also on the outside!  When we get back to Penang next week, Tim will be excited to feel that.  I’ve seen lots of family, and everyone is excited about Miles & #2.  Funniest response from my grandma: You are so small!  You don’t even look pregnant!  Are you sure that baby is OK?  I hope so. 🙂  About time for a belly shot, I know.  Let me get on that…

22 weeks

Twenty-Two Weeks (8/23/2011): Back in Penang and looking decidedly pregnant.  My first trip back to the market had vendors either staring without comment at my bump, or staring with exclamation. It was fun.  Being pregnant with a toddler and jetlag has not been fun.  It’s been really hard.  Hopefully we are through it soon.  We went in for another check up and ultrasound this week.  I loved this one, as we could see into the brain (Tim has a theory there is conservation of brain mass and baby is getting all of ours – I am so forgetful these days!), and see the 4 chambers of the heart pumping away.  Amazing!  Baby is doing really well, doc says.  And by the way, have I mentioned how much I love this doctor!!?!  He’s fantastic.  Told me I am getting nice and fat (impressive weight gain this visit) and to keep it up!  We’re having name discussions, but nothing is jumping out.

Twenty-Three Weeks (9/3/2011) – Someone needs to tell us to stop taking babymoon trips, its exhausting!  I think with being overtired (Miles’ sleep regression doesn’t help), some of the morning sickness crept back for a while, and I puked after a trip to McDonald’s, which means I will not be going back there any time soon.  Otherwise, things are moving right along, and I am loving my pregnant body.  I’m right at that point where I am curvy without being massive, but most definitely pregnant looking.  It feels good!  I went through and put away all the clothes that either won’t fit any more or that I don’t want to ‘ruin’ by wearing them while pregnant (I will not want to wear anything ‘maternity’ post partum, even if its not a maternity thing).  Baby is active-active.  I think this is the good part of the 2nd trimester!

22 weeks

Twenty-Five Weeks (9/16/2011) – Woah, baby!  My belly has totally popped out!  Its a nice little round ball now that seems to compliment every outfit.  Kind of.  I still feel a bit self conscious when people say – wow! you’re getting big!  I guess I wasn’t going to stay not showing forever.  The baby is being super active.  Last week (s)he was feet down and delivering stunning blows to my pubic bone.  Not fun.  48 hours later, flipped with feet to the right, then to the left, then back to the pubic bone assault for a day or so until back to the right.  I am a bit worried about what is going on with the umbilical cord during all this…  Tim has also made it his personal mission to make sure I get some workouts in, which is really good.  I started yoga once a week and most nights get out either to the pool or to the gym for 20-30 minutes of exercise.  It does help me feel better.  Such a difference from last time when I was still running around at this point, lifting weights, doing yoga, etc, etc.  I’m also thinking of all the things I can do now that will be a little more difficult with infant in arms, and trying to take advantage of those.  One of them is riding my bike around with Miles in the bike seat.  Last time I went to the hospital, my endocrinologist gave me a hard time about it when he found out it was a push bike and not a motor bike.  A motor bike would have been better?  And does he know what the parking situation is like at the hospital (without a dedicated spot)??  I can’t believe I only have a little over a week left in the second trimester!  Christmas is quickly approaching!

26 weeks - angel face

Twenty-Seven Weeks (9/26/2011): We went in Friday for another check up, all is well on the baby front.  We got to see the face very clearly – no cleft lip (the doctor said).  We continue to skip over the lower half of the body, gender will be a surprise.  I am still feeling boy, but Tim says we should prepare for a girl.  Or else I should prepare to have another baby (he wants a daughter! 🙂 ) We’re working on the name thing, talking mostly about girls’ names and not really getting anywhere.  A whole trimester to go.  I have 2 trips coming up, one this week to Singapore.  Winnie asked what I wanted to do.  I honestly want to just hang out and watch movies – I am exhausted!  I nap almost every day 1-2 hours with Miles (who is back to taking good naps, thank you, baby.), but I get up a lot at night.  Half is Miles, half discomfort.  My belly is getting B-I-G (see pic below) but I am still weighing in around 15lbs less than I did with Miles at this stage, total weight gain from pre-pregnancy is at about 12 lbs.  It must have something to do with the noted lack of running and resistance exercise I do.  I do have this habit of carrying around a 25 lb weight, though.  Here we go!

26 Weeks B-E-L-L-Y!!!

I was attempting to fill this tub to give myself a pedicure.  It got full all right:

Miles is growing up.  He understands what we say, copies what we do, and needs to be up to his elbows in everything!

  • Mine: word of the month.  Everything is ‘mine, mine’.  Basically just means he wants something, but I try and explain, no Miles, that actually belongs to Momma, and I am sharing with you.
  • The stool.  Miles has  a little ottoman from his nursing chair that he drags around the house, effectively making him 18″ taller.  This means he is on every counter, every table, in the sink, at the stove (yikes!) and helping with all tasks that go on there.  Dishes are a clear favorite (and luckily he cannot reach the faucet yet).  He also likes to “mix, mix”, which means to help with cooking.  I’m glad he has such an interest, and that he is learning to steer clear of knives and the stove (do you want to touch sharp? hot?, to which he replies with a shaking head, waving hand and ‘bye, bye’)
  • The pot.  Another month of diaper free, and we’ve had some back and forth.  Not so much with accidents on the floor, those are very rare, but sometimes he is keen to sit and read/watch videos on the potty, and other times he would rather hold it.  For a LONG time, or at least until I get his swim diaper on and take him to the pool.  Ugh.  We’ll get there, anyway.  I stopped using cloth diapers (he was super-soaking through them in about 45 minutes), so we go through 2-3 disposables a day.
  • Thanks.  We made it a priority to start family dinners this month so we all sit down and eat together each night.  Most nights, anyway.  This means 2 good things: Miles gets exposed to whatever we are eating, and tends to eat better when he sees us doing it AND he participates in our pre-dinner ‘grace’, where we hold hands and go around saying what we are thankful for.  He knows the drill, daddy goes first, then momma, then Miles says ‘thanks’ and then we can eat!  He loves this tradition and sometimes insists on doing it before breakfast or when we eat out.  Its so sweet, though, we can’t resist.
  • Sleep: a regression.  I can’t blame jetlag, or molars, or lack of routine.  Miles just did not have a good month of sleeping.  Night waking, calling for momma, and not putting himself to sleep.  Sigh.
  • Other – Miles started daycare Monday, just a little break for momma and a chance to get some energy out on some other, well-paid adults…even with the mine-mine attitude, Miles doesn’t seem to care that much if other kids take stuff from him, he just picks up something else to play with…so much singing these days, there will be whole mornings where Miles is hanging around singing songs to himself, or having an unintelligible monologue…I have been taking some mom time recently, so lots of chances for Miles to bond with dad, they are so sweet together.  I love my little family, and looking forward to it getting bigger…I don’t think Miles has any concept of a baby on the way.  He likes to poke and prod my belly, kiss it and say baby, but I don’t think he ‘gets’ it yet at all.  He will soon enough, 3 months to go!!

This picture is from a while ago…we just came across it on Tim’s phone.  Too sweet not to share.

My first experience with pregnancy cravings came from the faceless mom-to-be from Lady and the Tramp yelling a final instruction to her husband as he wraps his coat against the blizzard he should not be going out in, “And some Chop Suey, too!”  It’s not for chop suey, but in my sixth month of this pregnancy, the cravings have finally settled in.  Months of detesting the thought of anything sweet, I now crave it.  Cold, creamy, after dinner goodness.  Ice cream would nicely fit the bill here, as would gelato, but for some reason those are not top on my list. (Plus, sending Tim out for these in the heat & humidity would be almost as inappropriate as the blizzard)  I want thick, velvety, but with a lightness: mousse.

Of course, mousse is one of those things I am supposed to avoid, as it typically contains raw eggs (tiramisu is also high on the craving list, but it contains raw eggs AND coffee AND alcohol!).  Then I saw an episode of Nigella Express, where she killed two birds with one stone: made a mousse that does not contain eggs, and one that is ready in minutes, perfect for the pregnant-I-need-that-now craving.  Instead, the fluffiness comes from marshmallows and whipped cream.  This mousse is so instant it is actually better before you refrigerate it, giving you and your unborn free reign on the entire portion that night.  Definitely use dark chocolate here, I tried once with milk choc chips and it was way way too sweet.

You think I am going to take pictures of something that takes 5 minutes to make, and less time to wolf down?  Maybe next time 🙂

Instant Chocolate Mousse (adapted from Nigella Express)

  • one 3.5oz bar dark chocolate, at least 70% cacao, broken into small pieces
  • 1 1/2 cup mini marshmallows
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Combine chocolate, marshmallows, butter and water in a saucepan over med-low heat and heat and stir until everything is fully melted.  Remove from heat and cool either in the freezer or over an ice bath for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Meanwhile, beat the cream and vanilla into stiff peaks.
  3. Fold chocolate mixture into cream and distribute into serving container(s).  This was really so rich, we got 4 servings out of it.

With Miles starting kindy/daycare/preschool/whatever you want to call it next week, I had the realization today that this week might be the last I spend at home with Miles, just me and him.  It was kind of sad, and it motivated me to spend our additional time together baking, which is surely Miles’ favorite activity. “Miles mix, mix”.  But then I started thinking about all the time I am going to have with the new baby, and while I am looking forward to that, there is a part of me that has gotten used to a flow of life around one kid, an increasingly independent one.  The list below is a few things I want to try and sneak in as often as possible in the next 15 weeks:

  • Date Night – it might be a while before #2 has a consistent 7:30 pm bedtime, so we booked our babysitter once a week for the next 15.
  • Riding Bikes.  I guess the doctor doesn’t really want me to ride around any more, but how could I get 2 on a bike?
  • Sleep in the car – that’s for Miles. How could I possibly get 2 sleeping kiddos into an apartment 7 floors up?
  • Girls’ Weekend Away!  Got something in the works for late October/early November
  • Meal Planning.  Maybe if I start now and get into the habit, it will be easier when I really need it?  This one is hard for me – I am NOT a planner.
  • Yoga – I found a teacher, and a nice Tuesday night class.  I plan to get through my 10 class pass before delivery time
  • Afternoon Naps – I am in the habit of laying down when Miles does (hence my lack of posting on this blog), taking 1-2 hours each afternoon.  How long does it take until they sleep at the same time??
Oh, and all that stuff to prepare for a new baby.  What is all that stuff again?  🙂

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