Social Weekend

We started off the weekend by going to Luke’s language school for an end of the semester party. We brought Jude along and he was a big hit.

IMG_6203Teachers and students gathered around to get a good look at Jude. A lot of people even took photos of him.

IMG_6200On Saturday we headed to another party. This time it was a birthday party for our friends’ twins who had just turned 1.

IMG_6231Jude was awake the whole time which was really fun.

IMG_8002We had a great time socializing with other parents, eating cake and watching the twins open their presents.

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After we were all pretty exhausted.

IMG_6214On Sunday morning Jude and I chatted with the Grandparents in America.

IMG_6235While Luke went on a hike with his language buddy.

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Later in the afternoon I went to put Jude down for a nap but someone else was already there.

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After some tears he finally settled and had a nice long nap. Long enough for me to finish up my weekend baking project – a lemon meringue pie. I made the crust on Saturday and the rest today.

IMG_6248It was fun to do some baking as its been awhile. But I’ve also come to realize I probably won’t ever bake as much as I used to again as I have something else I’d rather be doing now.

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Luke’s Birthday

Jude is 3 weeks old today.  Time has really flown by – he changes so much every day. My parents have just left after visiting for a week. It was wonderful to have them here spending time with their grandson. I will do a post on their visit but before I do I have to post about another special occasion – Luke’s birthday.

Having just had a baby certainly overshadowed the whole occasion. I usually put a lot of thought and planning into birthdays but having Jude on board meant I had to wing it today. In the morning I made Luke’s favorite, pancakes, while Jude sat happily in his bouncy chair. When Luke went out for a swim I quickly put some decorations up on the wall while holding Jude in one arm.

IMG_5902Later in the day, in between naps and Skype sessions, I was able to get most of dinner ready and the cake baked.

I put the finishing touches on the cake with Jude strapped to my chest.

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I made a banana cake with a chocolate frosting.

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We couldn’t find any matches to light the candles but we still sang and Luke pretended to blow out the candles.

After cake I fed Jude and then put him down to sleep in his crib. Goose and Fern babysat while Luke and I got to hang out a bit and reminisce over how much has changed since his last birthday.

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Walking and Waiting

With just two weeks to go until my official due date I’m getting pretty anxious.

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My Doctor encouraged me to start walking a lot more- outside, on a treadmill, and up stairs. Apparently this can help push the baby down into my pelvis in preparation for labor. I’ve been dutifully following her instructions.

I’ve been taking the stairs at least once a day up to our 18th floor apartment.

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And hit the park most days for a long, vigorous walk.

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Yesterday, I decided to join Luke and his language partner for a trip to a fish market and outdoor wet market at I knew there would be lots of walking involved.

It was pouring rain but that didn’t stop us.

IMG_4912The fish market we went to is called Addiction Aquatic Development. It’s pretty flash as in addition to a fish market it sells gourmet food items, has a fresh sushi bar, restaurant and other bits and pieces. It’s quite expensive but definitely fun for browsing.

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IMG_4910After the market we headed to a cafe to sit down and grab a drink.

IMG_4917Once I finished my chai milkshake latte concoction I left Luke and his language partner (so they could do their exchange) and headed to the wet market to buy our fruits and veggies for the week.

IMG_4918When we got back home I got the news that my parents had adopted a new kitty named, ‘Oz’.

IMG_4921They have been thinking about it ever since one of their dear cats, Clarissa, passed away last month.

IMG_3131They still had another cat, Banshee, and didn’t want him to be lonely as he was their only cat after Clarissa died.

IMG_3133Oz seems to be very sweet and affectionate just like Banshee. I can’t wait to meet him someday.

Full Term

I’m 37 weeks pregnant  – officially full term! My actual due date isn’t until April 28th but he could come anytime. He’s done all his major development and is now just adding weight. The past month has been all about preparing for his arrival.

IMG_4515We took birth classes to help us get ready for labor and delivery.

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Sterilized baby bottles.

IMG_4680Finished organizing the nursery.

IMG_4537Spent time together.

IMG_4666Ate pork tonkatsu,

IMG_4665and lots of mochi.

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Then spent time at the gym trying to burn some of it off.

IMG_4699Did some  baking and put it in the freezer for easy postpartum snacks and meals.

IMG_4606Hung out with the cats.

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Took lots of photos of them,

IMG_4573and of course, of my gigantic belly.

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Two Years

Today is our 2 year wedding anniversary.

DSC_4049It’s hard to believe we have been married two years already. It has certainly gone by in a flash. Last year at this time we were celebrating in Thailand.

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This year we were homebound for obvious reasons. We were also unable to celebrate today as Luke had his wisdom teeth removed so instead we celebrated yesterday.

We decided to mark the occasion by  going back for a meal at No. 168 Prime Steakhouse. We celebrated my birthday there back in January and loved it so much decided to return. We ordered the 5-course set menu again, ordering slightly different items for each course.

To start –  Grilled Shrimp and Crab Cake.

IMG_4421Soup – French Onion and Clam Chowder.

IMG_4422Steak Mains.

IMG_4423Luke,

IMG_4425and Me.

IMG_4426Dessert – Strawberry Tart and Pecan Pie.

IMG_4428We enjoyed our meal just as much as the first time. Over dinner we spent some time reflecting on the big changes we’ve had over the past year.

We moved to Taiwan,

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Adopted two cats,

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(Me @ 34 weeks)

Cuddly Cats and Two Recipes

While we were in the States we boarded Goose and Fern at this awesome place called ‘Cats N Life’ in Taipei. The facilities are very nice – super clean, and a good size . But the best feature about the place was that they had web cams in each of the cat rooms where you could watch your cats in real-time. How cool is that? So while we were away I would check in on them several times a day.

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It really set my mind at ease to be able to see them on demand 24/7 and know they were okay. I still missed them like crazy but I think the time together on their own actually brought them closer together. Since we’ve been back they’ve been super affectionate to one another. Here are some of my favorite moments:

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Apart from snapping a million photos of cats I’ve also been in the kitchen making lots of tasty things. Luke and I both recently had a hankering for lasagna. There is a very small  selection of italian ingredients available in Taipei supermarkets and of what you can find they are all super $$$. But I figured lasagna, a meal that would last us several dinners was worth the splurge.

So I went about collecting the various components to make lasagna – pasta sheets, sauce, mozzarella cheese, and spinach. The one thing I was unable to locate (a key ingredient) was ricotta cheese. Instead of giving up I turned my mind to thinking about substitutes. I opened our fridge and staring back at me was a block of firm tofu. Voila! My ‘ricotta cheese’! It turned out delicious, the ricotta was not missed at all.

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Amazing Tofu Spinach Lasagna

Ingredients 

-1/2 (12 ounce) package uncooked lasagne noodles

-1 (12 ounce) block firm tofu

-2 eggs

-1/4 cup milk

-1 big jar spaghetti sauce (or about 2 cups homemade)

-1 tablespoon dried mixed italian herbs

-2 cups shredded mozzarella

-1 generous bunch of spinach (cooked,  drained, and chopped)

-salt/pepper to taste

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C)

2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add lasagna and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.

3. Place about 1/2 cup of the spaghetti sauce in a separate bowl.

4. In a medium bowl combine tofu, eggs, salt, pepper, milk, remaining spaghetti sauce, parsley, 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, and cooked spinach.

5. Spread half of the reserved spaghetti sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish.

6. Alternate lasagna noodles with the sauce mixture, ending with noodles.

7. Spread the remaining reserved spaghetti sauce on top and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella.

8. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 35 minutes.

The other delicious thing I made this week was this:

IMG_3740It’s an Almond Cake using marzipan (which I love). Marzipan is usually an extremely  pricey ingredient here so I avoid recipes that use it. But I was at IKEA the other day to my surprise they were selling blocks of marzipan for $2! I’m kicking myself now for only grabbing one.

Anyhow, for the cake I followed this recipe (minus the almond garnish on top). It turned out beautifully and was gone within a day!

Life Recently

The cats have been spending a lot of time in their new Cat Crib.

I ordered the crib a while back and asked my parents send it over from the States. They sent it along with a boatload of other goodies to help me get through my pregnancy.

As much as I tell them not to send it, it’s always fun to receive American Halloweeen candy. We had a great time taste testing everything. The booger gummies were my favorite.

Just this week I met up for lunch with a woman from my book club and she introduced me to a new restaurant where I had an awesome curry.

Last weekend Jen and Rob were visiting my parents in Ohio. I video chatted with them a few times and things got pretty interesting…

I made a trip to Ikea on Wednesday and scoped out the baby gear. So cute.

Luke and I had date date night on Friday. We kicked it off with tea and scones at Smith & Hsu.

We ended up ordering a pot of Masala Chai (although I was tempted by the Kir Royale tea) to accompany our cheese and berry scones.

After tea we did some shopping and ended up at Toasteria for dinner.

Luke had a salami and gouda grilled cheese and I had a smoked salmon salad. It was divine.

And perhaps the most exciting thing in our lives is that as of today I am 17 weeks pregnant!

I am finally starting to show and others are noticing. Hopefully sometime this week or next I will feel him move for the first time. I can’t wait for that moment.

A Mostly Cat Post

This was a big week for Goose. On Wednesday she got spayed and chipped. She wasn’t allowed food or water 12 hours before the surgery. I found the poor thing scrounging around in the sink for a drop of water.

When the time came I got her all ready to go and Fern said goodbye.

During her surgery I stopped by Costco to pick up a few things.

On my Mom’s suggestion I also grabbed a rotisserie chicken.

She is the Queen cat spoiler and recommended I have some chicken ready for Goose post-surgery.

When Goose came home she was pretty out of it. We left her in the cage for a while. We tried to give her food but she wasn’t keen. When she finally emerged from her cage she was walking like a drunken sailor. We put her up on the couch and let her sleep. Fern kept her company.

Later in the evening she was ready to eat, 2 cans of Fancy Feast and a good helping of the chicken. During her after-dinner cleaning session she discovered her bald patch and stitches and tried desperately to bite them out.

By the weekend, Goose was back to her old self again. Crashing around like the Tasmanian Devil.

Our weekend has been pretty low-key. Friday after school while Luke was getting a haircut I went and got a Pearl Milk Tea.

It’s the most delicious drink ever. It’s a whopping 400+ calories but so worth it. On my way back to meet Luke at the hairdresser I spotted a small bakery selling scones! Scones are not common in Taiwan, so I had to stop in and sample.

I got a mini-cheese and mini-raisin scone as well as this mini-slice of walnut pie.

The scones were pretty good and the pie was just so-so. We stayed home both Friday and Saturday nights. Re-watched an old favorite movie (American History X) and tonight reading and having a drink (Luke, beer and me, Emergen-c).

I hope you had a great weekend.

Baking and a Birthday Party

Lots of baking went on this weekend.

A loaf of fresh bread was made and had with homemade carrot soup. Sadly, I lost photos of the bread and soup due to an unfortunate event involving my iPhone, kitten, and a glass of water. Many dollars later, it’s working again.

I had a big can of crushed pineapple so made a very low-fat pineapple cake with a very not low-fat frosting.

Luke claimed he liked it but I thought it was just average.

On Sunday I was up early to set out on a mission to bake 36 cupcakes for a one year old’s birthday party. It took me a lot longer than I thought – especially the icing and decorating. But I was happy with the results.

This was the final batch – I had taken over the majority earlier in the day to make sure they were what they wanted. So after wrapping a gift for the birthday boy I headed over to the party.

There was lots of yummy food.

The Bday Boy loved the gift we got him – Eric Carle’s Hungry Caterpillar book, with a finger puppet caterpillar. We were in hysterics watching his reaction to it!

I got home just in time for some sunny floor time with the cats.

(Something I realized later was that the protective film over my phone was still on the back and over the camera – hence why these photos looks like they were taken underwater).