Blog Archive

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas 2011

This was the best Christmas ever: relaxing, good food, a happy child, a few presents, etc. It was just what I needed after an insane year of juggling my research, my qualifying exam preparation, living apart from Dave, and raising a toddler. Just us Bowers all snuggled up in our home and we stayed in our PJs all day long.

Most of my holidays are crazy busy with lots of family members around (except one back in 2004 when I spent Christmas flying to Cape Town for an internship so I spent it with no one). So this was my "smallest" Christmas otherwise, since I was Eddie's age and spent the holiday alone with my parents.

We set out the gifts the night before so Eddie could see them when he got up. It was a great morning because Eddie didn't get up until nearly 9am. I suspect this or maybe next year is our last "normal" Christmas morning. Pretty soon Eddie'll realize that he can wake us up super early.

After a leisurely breakfast of oatmeal, bacon, and eggs we opened up our gifts. We were pretty stingy on the gifts: only 4 for Eddie and 1 for each of us parents. But he got to open his 3 gifts from Grammy and Papa Bower at Zennie's and he'll open more at my folks' house at new year's. Since I accidentally left Dave's gift from me at my parents' house, all he got were some slippers from Eddie. Dave surprised me with a Kindle Touch reader, which is pretty cool. Although I'll always be partial to real books, this is a welcome change. It'll be SUPER nice to have a one-hand device like this next time I am nursing a baby (in a few years)--I remember how hard it was to juggle a squirmy baby and a book during hours and hours of nursing. My first purchase was Alexandra Fuller's newest book and I'm enjoying it a lot.

The rest of our day was spent cooking and playing with Eddie's big present--a huge Bruder excavator toy. He scooped and dumped all the balls of wrapping paper and wooden blocks he could.At noon Dave threw a rack of ribs on the grill over low heat and they cooked for the next 5 hours. I rolled and cut the tomato and spinach pasta dough (red and green, how festive!). Right before our Christmas dinner I sauteed up some broccoli, pumpkin, fennel, and cauliflower with satsuma zest and juice (wow, yum). We ate our supper around 5:30pm and then headed out in the car to view some Christmas lights on "candy cane lane." I think it is cool that this whole court participates in decorating their houses in lots of lights; it isn't as lavish as Deacon Dave's in Livermore, but it is still very nice. I love the little "Davis" touches: a cloth diapered baby ginger bread boy and Santa pulling a bike trailer full of presents.Then we got a Red Box movie (The Adjustment Bureau...soooooooooooo good) and headed home. After some more chocolate peanut butter cheesecake and homemade strawberry ice cream we called each of our parents so Eddie could wish them a happy Chriastmas and then we put Eddie to bed so we could watch our movie.

What a great holiday. I hope each of YOU had the perfect Christmas, too!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas with Zennie

On Christmas Eve Eve we went to Mike and Bernie's house for a meal, presents, fort building, and general holiday merriment.

Dave's parents sent their grandkids' gifts down with Dave so we loaded up the van like Santa to deliver the presents. Our very own elf helped us with the packages.They had cooked up a feast of pasta, chicken adobo, beet salad and lots more. For dessert I brought a chocolatey peanut butter cheesecake (the crust was brownie). Not liking traditional cheesecake much, I thought it was pretty dang tasty, if not way too rich. Eddie surprised us and sat throughout nearly the entire meal--something he's not known for doing at home, but which we are working very hard on--I think because Cousin Zennie is such a good eater. She sits throughout the entire meal, eating all her food instead of playing with it. Not that Eddie is a "bad" or picky eater. He just prefers to graze all day instead of eat a whole meal.

Bernie picked up a bunch of appliance boxes from Home Depot so the kiddos could make a fort in their living room. It was a genius idea because we got to color and decorate the insides and outsides. Michael event tossed a bunch of paper inside for them to throw around--it was quite a hit!After that we went outside to play with Zennie's handled trike and wagon. Uncle Michael plays really intensely and Eddie LOVED it.

Later we opened presents and Bernie read some books to the kiddos before we headed back home. Eddie was going on no nap that day and we knew he'd crash into sleep or a meltdown any moment. Of course he fell asleep minutes before we pulled into our driveway so he and Dave finished napping in the van while I went inside. And as is the case with all short naps, he was SUPER DUPER cranky afterward. On Christmas Eve we met up with Bernie and Zennie at the Sacramento Zoo, which was open for a free half day. It was super crowded and parking was a bit hairy, but I'm glad we went. Eddie had never been to the zoo before (gasp!) and he seemed to like it. My favorite--as always--were the anteaters. I can't tell what Eddie's favorite animal was since he was a little overwhelmed by all the people and his cousin. Maybe the orangutans, though. We stared at those for a good long while until Dave pulled us away so we could find Bernie.

As usual, we couldn't get a good picture of Eddie or us as a family because of Eddie's camera aversion. Here's the best we got, sun glare and all:Thanks to "burst mode" on our camera, which we just figured out how to use after two years, we were able to get *some* pictures of Eddie and Zennie with them both looking at the camera (one or two out of about 50 taken about a second apart). Of course, the only time Eddie cooperates for pictures is when he doesn't see the camera or he's snacking so there's food or a hand in his mouth. Ah, toddlerhood. This was also a nap-free day since we were at the zoo until 1pm. He was tired, but not cranky so we pushed our luck and stopped at Ace Hardware when we got back to Davis. Our chicken waterers are both broken (plastic + UV rays for 2 years make them leak apparently) so we had to buy a new one. This time we spent more money on a nice galvanized metal one that isn't gravity fed so we shouldn't have issues with it. We were all getting hungry by that point so we got to Thai food downtown at a new restaurant we'd not been to before. Unlike other Thai places in town, this one was more quiet and subdued than others (or maybe it was like that because it was filled with adults instead of college students near the holiday?). Eddie surprised us and did fairly well at keeping his voice down and not making too big of a mess with his food. I love that my child love tom ka gai soup as much as I do.Dave and Eddie settled in to watch a Robots the movie when we got back home while I made some pasta dough. About 15 minutes into the movie I got a text message from Dave (yes, he was in the next room) saying I should come in and look at Eddie. He was passed OUT. It was adorable seeing him snuggled up on his Dadda with his brother right next to him. Oh man, Dave was in heaven holding Eddie during the movie. Happy holidays everyone! I'll post about Christmas morning later on.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Holiday Feasting

I was chatting with Dave online last night about all the food I want to make during the two weeks we will be together for the holidays. Granted, it will mostly just be the three of us Bowers, but I can't help myself...I just love variety. I won't make a lot of each thing, just a little bit of each so we can have our own buffet.
  • Buffalo chicken dip
  • bbq ribs
  • fondue
  • paella
  • mussels and fries
  • eggs benedict (I've never made Hollandaise before)
  • bacon jalapeno poppers
  • donuts
  • steamed buns like you get at dim sum
  • roast a whole, big fish (I want to see Eddie's reaction; he likes fish, but I'm not sure he understands that what we eat is the same as what we see)
  • something Moroccan using preserved lemons (I made some a couple of months ago and they are ready to be used)
If I can get my hands on some purple ube paste or powder I'll make an ube cake with the mutant coconut I bought on discount in Gualala.

I already promised myself that I can sit down and make the feasting grocery list after I finish my headspace gas measurements in lab tomorrow (it'll be my "treat" with my afternoon coffee). We all know how much I love making lists and cooking so this'll be a treat indeed. Mmmmmmmm.
Since we're talking about lists, here are the things I'd like to do with Eddie and Dave over the holidays: see the Christmas lights at Deacon Dave's in Livermore, ride the train somewhere, go sledding/tubing, go to the zoo, go swimming, and take Eddie to a movie. Hopefully we all stay healthy so we can eat and enjoy to our heart's contents!

Go Bouncing

This past weekend was fantastic, minus the lingering cough that plagued Dave.

Friday he spent all day with Eddie. That night we took Eddie to Cassie's for "parents' night out." All the kiddos go to make Christmas tree pizzas, decorate ornaments, change into jammies, and watch a movie. Meanwhile, their parents got some much-needed couple time.

First we went to the local toy shop to modify an order for Eddie's "big" gift and for Dave to pick out a puzzle for Eddie. Then we used our gift certificate for Applebee's that my mom gave me a while ago. She also gave us a movie card but there wasn't anything playing that we wanted to see. So we spent a good 1.5 hours eating and talking ways to give me more work time, him more Eddie time, and us more "us" time. Oh, and how and when to get me graduated in a reasonable amount of time (there is light at the end of this's just that the wavelength changes on occasion so it is hard to see...but it is there!).

After dinner we didn't know what to do. We were both tired but it was only 8pm and we were paying for childcare until 10pm. We didn't need to go grocery shopping and weren't hungry for dessert. So we got some gas, got tea at Ciocolat, went to my lab to start another run in my instrument, then discovered it wasn't working (surprise, had been working at 5pm when I last used it...$%#*@ instrument). By that time we were ready to get Eddie. Of course, he had had tons of fun!

I had intended to work all day Saturday but since the instrument wasn't working I got to hang out with the boys instead. We did little stuff around the house (laundry, fixed the Christmas lights, etc.) and then got to work cooking up the abundance of produce we had in the house. The CSA basket we'd been getting since March decided to close for a bit and will relocate and reopen in the spring. Anticipating this, I signed us up for another basket, one that delivers to the house instead of just to campus. Somehow we ended up with three weeks of double baskets. So we've become inundated with persimmons, butternut squash, apples, and lemons. (Most complaints about winter CSA baskets is that you get nothing but kale. Around here there's plenty of variety all year round. And in our house we go through whatever greens we get mighty quickly. I'd actually prefer more kale and fewer persimmons.)

I chopped up tons of radishes and mini parshnips, some leeks, carrots, fennel, and beets and threw them into the crockpot for beef stew, along with more than a bottle of red wine. It turned out pretty tasty, but needed a little sugar to balance out the sharpness of the radishes. Then I squeezed as many of the ripe persimmons as were ready into a baggie for the freezer so I can accumulate enough pulp to bake something delicious.Next we tackled the apples (just when I thought, after 21 gallons of cider, that I was DONE with apples!). We didn't make applesauce yet this year so that's what we did. Eddie and Dave were in charge with cutting up the apples. It was adorable watching them work together. Eddie has his own knife. I've taught him how to hold it in his right hand and then press down on the top of the blade with his left hand, nice and flat. So now he is always checking to make sure his hand it flat enough before pushing on the blade.It cooked low and slow all day and part of Sunday, making the house smell amazing. I threw in all of the fuyu persimmons we had since I don't really like eating them (too sweet).

Before dinner we decorated some gingerbread cookies I'd cut out to look like trains (engines, coal tenders, trucks, and wheels). We used whatever candies and decorations I could find in the house and glued them on with pink, white, and blue royal icing. I figured we'd do gingerbread houses, but Eddie declared that he wanted to make "choo choo cookies." So we did. And it was super fun. Those cookies acted as a great bartering item for the remainder of the weekend. "Eddie, if you eat your dinner, then you have have a choo choo wheel afterward."

That night after Eddie was in bed I juiced and zested the 20 or so lemons we had in our fruit bowl and got busy making lemonade and three batches of canned lemon curd. We used something like 30 eggs...basically the entire half-flat of eggs we'd gotten on Wednesday from our egg delivery service. Thankfully, our chickens are still laying eggs or we wouldn't have had any eggs for breakfast this morning! Skipping morning eggs would be worth it, though. The lemon curd is tasty. I need to make some scones!

We wanted to take Eddie somewhere fun on Sunday and decided on the zoo. But when Dave was checking the hours online, he discovered that it'll be open for free on Christmas Eve. So we will delay our zoo trip until next weekend. Instead, we decided to go to the trampoline place in Rancho Cordova. We had a feeling Eddie would love it, so we booked two hours. Turns out that was a bit long for his first time, but WOW did he love it. He spent half his time bouncing and half his time running REALLY FAST along the yellow walkways. That kid is FAST. When we wasn't on the trampolines he was playing on all the arcade games. Who taught my child how to hold a gun?Or a guitar? My LORD, isn't he the cutest guitarist EVER?
I assumed he'd be tuckered out and fall fast asleep on the drive home, but boy was I wrong. We got home in time for a late nap, but decided to watch a movie instead and let him fall asleep on the couch. Again, wrong. Throughout the movie Hook he alternated between sitting on the couch and eating popcorn with us (butter, black pepper, and Parmesan, our new favorite topping combination thanks to Auntie Jennifer), climbing on us, and wandering around the house.

It was one of the best weekends we've had in a while. Just us Bowers with nothing pressing to do. Ah, fantastic. And I wish someone would pay me a dime each time Eddie's asked "can we go bouncing now?" Cause I'd be rich.

Monday, December 19, 2011


Yikes, how did I not post about Thanksgiving before now? Oh...that's got in the way. I suppose it is nice that real life gets in the way of blogging about my life. Otherwise, what would I blog about?
This year we had Thanksgiving at our house and Edward and Jennifer were able to be here, too. Dave took the whole week off, but got sick a few days before and was pretty miserable (and silent from the laryngitis). But he was able to get lots of rest and I was able to get lots of cooking done. Mostly because I started my cooking on Sunday before and just threw side dishes into the freezer.

Our feast was small compared to most years, although we did have a lot of variety. Everything except the casserole and rolls were gluten free, and therefore Jennifer-friendly. We also chose to do chickens instead of turkey so that Edward could eat the meat, too. (He's allergic to turkey...weird, I know.) I didn't realize until I had made the casserole that the canned soup I used had wheat in it. Dang! This is why I should make everything from scratch...dangit. I don't think anyone would know that the meal was gluten free.

We had: roasted chickens, mashed yams with raisins and pecans, stewed greens, green bean casserole, focaccia, butter horn rolls, cranberry jelly and relish, butternut squash bisque, gravy, bread stuffing, and a pumpkin cheesecake for dessert. My mom also brought me some pies from Sharry's, the restaurant chain that took over Baker's Square. I had hoped that they kept the French Silk recipe the same, but sadly, they did not. It was too sweet and runny. I've had this pie recipe on file for a while but have never made it because it requires raw eggs. But maybe now's the time since I have a seriously hole in my life without French Silk pie. (The Baker's Square here in Davis closed in the middle of my pregnancy, after the doctor ordered me to avoid chocolate. So I haven't had any of that scrumptious pie in years.)My mom and Jennifer decorated/set the table...isn't it lovely?Eddie is really into having candles lit at the table (in fact, we have candles lit at EVERY meal nowadays). My mom thought it would be fun to eat by candlelight. But it was too dark so Jennifer and I strung up some Christmas lights on the curtains. It was okay but they were creepy LED lights that were too "white." I would have preferred to dine with the lights on, but it sort of worked since we all ended up whispering along with Dave, who had lost his voice. (Mob mentality much?) It was hilarious when Dave "yelled" at Taters to "go on!" (meaning "get out of the kitchen and dining room while we are eating, dog. You know the rules."). Taters actually obeyed much more than he usually does when Dave has his full voice. Ha!

After dinner but before dessert, everyone except Dave and my mom decided to go for a walk so we could return a Red Box DVD. While we were gone, my mom did the dishes and Dave took a nap. We got back just in time for Horton Hears a Who on tv. It had rained recently so Eddie had lots of fun splashing in the puddles.
Overall it was a nice holiday. I just hope Dave isn't sick for the next one!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Mini Weekend

Dave decided to stay, at my suggestion, in Gualala on Thursday night because he was very tired after a full day of work and then a late meeting. So he came back home on Friday at 11am, meaning that I got to have a nice morning at home with Eddie.
During lunch I knitted with some girl friends. Kelly showed me (easy it is) to cable! My legwarmers should be completed soon! That evening my lab went out for a drink with a visiting Chinese professor, who downed a beer faster than any of us Americans. Ha! We intended to go to a neighbor's birthday party that night, but Eddie and I were having some much fun playing with Miss Zephie, the puppy, that we decided instead to play at the park with the dogs.
Saturday morning, I got up at 5:45 to see the lunar eclipse. It was freaking freezing outside so I didn't stay long. The total eclipse was to happen at like 6:06, but I didn't want to stay up/out that long. So I snapped a picture for Dave and headed back inside to our warm bed. I'm glad I got up, though. It WAS pretty cool.
Later that morning, Dave made waffles with blue sprinkles in the batter. Then he got set up to hang the Christmas lights on the roof (turns out one whole strand doesn't work). I took Eddie to Michael's craft store and to Costco to keep him out of Dave's hair and--most importantly--off the tall ladder. We bought some stocking stuffers, groceries, and a pack of cards and envelopes for our holiday cards, too. Hopefully our ghetto printer will print on them okay.
Instead of buying commercial photo cards this year, we will be making our own cards. That's only because I had a free promo code for 50 prints from Shutterfly. The ONLY family picture we have this year is from Halloween, so that's what we are in Peter Pan costumes. Ha! Eddie is in an "I scream and fuss and refuse to look at the camera" phase and has been most of this past year, so this was the best we could do. He isn't even looking at the camera (off to the side, to Uncle, who was distracting him from being camera cranky). So our cards will be a little ghetto this year. Oh well, handmade with love trumps a traditional portrait, right? RIGHT.
Eddie napped from about 1:30-4:45pm so we didn't make it to the movie we wanted to see with him at 4:30 (Puss in Boots). His long naps are great because I get a lot done, but it prevents us from doing fun things sometimes. Yesterday I was able to deep clean both bathrooms (skipping the floors, though), put all the Costco stuff away, watch a show and eat some dinner, and a million other things. Dave had time to clean up the garage, fix a fan, and go to Target to get his flu shot, plus more Christmas lights and some candy for stocking stuffers.
Once Eddie got up, the neighbor called to see of Miss Zephie was able to come to the park for a play date with her dog (they had played a lot on Friday in the front yard, I guess). We all ended up playing at the park with all the dogs. I think Zephie was a little overwhelmed because she ran back home a couple of times. She sure was tired afterward from all the excitement! (See our spiffy new couch they are on? We love it!)
Then we decorated the front yard with all sorts of lights--strands of pink, purple, blue, green, and some of those net ones in multicolor for the one bush we have. It is whimsical and fun. Dr. Seuss would be proud.
About that time, Dave remembered that his dad said there was some extra work they could do on Sunday. Not wanting to pass up the extra income, we both agreed that he should go.
Since we still wanted to do a family outing, we opted for ice cream and cupcakes downtown after Eddie and Dave ate their dinner. It was delicious. We both chuckled after we got home--it was the first time in a loooooooooong time that we went downtown for food as a family (and drove, to boot!). About 98% of the time we stay home and eat food that I've prepared. It was a nice change of pace, for sure.
This morning Eddie and I had breakfast, made a loaf of persimmon bread, and then headed outside to thin the turnips and carrots in the front yard. The chickens joined us and ate all of the slugs I found while gardening. It is pretty dang cold outside and my fingers were nearly frozen when we decided to go back inside for hot chocolate, pretzels, and an episode of Chuggington. I can't stand this show, so I'm blogging via email.
This afternoon we will skip nap time so we can meet Cassie and some other parents at the local Christmas tree farm. Hopefully I can get a picture of Eddie with Santa. I've never taken Eddie to the mall, so I feel like this will be his only chance to meet Old St. Nick.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Bowers Love Puppies

In early November by brother and sister-in-law adopted two female McNab puppies. Their beloved Missy Bean had to be put down this past summer due to old age complications and they were ready for a new dog. One of the new puppies (they called her Zephyr) was actually for Dave's parents, whose older dog is nearing "retirement."

Little Zephyr is now living up in Gualala, keeping my mother-in-law super busy. She chews on everything, loves to hide in dark places, and must be watched at all times, lest she go potty or get into something she's not supposed to. As you can imagine, Dave is enamored with her. So much so, that I had to admit that I was a little worried he'd fall so in love with her that he'd love our doggies less. But being the good husband/dog-lover/father that he is, he assured me that would never happen. (We'll see...)

We've been web-chatting with Dave each night this week from dinner prep through bath time. And each evening he scoops Zephyr up into his arms so Eddie and I can swoon over her. She's now about 3 months old and much bigger and more active than when I first met her at 2 months old.If you know Dave well, you know that his chosen "career" in life (if he could manage it) would be to breed/raise McNab border collie puppies and be a potter. There is a picture of Dave as an 8 year old, holding a litter of puppies while sitting in a dog house wearing rubber muck boots. It is the most adorable picture of him. Hopefully I can find it in his baby book and post it here.

Until then, here's a picture of our web chat from a few nights Bowers sure do love these doggies!As a side note: I'm calling this new pup Zephyr, the name given to her by Mike and Bernie. My mother-in-law, however, is calling her Missy. Missy! Like the dog that was jut put down this summer. Ahhhhhhhhh! Isn't that a little...uh, creepy? I know the whole family loved Missy Bean just as much as if she were a human member of the family (okay, more than if she were a human member of the family). But to name your new/replacement dog after your beloved old dog? No way. That'd be like naming my next child Eddie if my current Eddie happened to die. To be fair to my MIL, I'll call her "Miss" Zephie. But I cannot call her a dead dog's name. It just makes me shudder.

As a joke, I sent Dave a text telling him that he should bring Miss Zephie home to Davis for the weekend. And to my surprise, my MIL was totally okay with it. I think she needs a break, haha. Eddie is sooooooooooooooo excited that Zephie gets to come to play this weekend. Our dogs have played with her before, but since they were at Mike's house and distracted by him and all the new toys at his house, they didn't pay much attention to the puppy. This time it'll be different, I'm sure.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

70 Years Ago Today

It is hard to believe that it was 70 years ago today that Pearl Harbor was attacked. That seems like so long ago, only because I wasn't alive then. But on the day I was born, it had only been 39 short years before. And thinking of events that occurred 40 years before today seem pretty recent, all things considered.

Anyway, it got me thinking about my Grandma Avis, Grandpa Jake, and Great Uncle Walter. While these brave men fought in the war, Grandma waited (im)patiently for them to come home. And it took a while for my grandpa, who was a POW and survived the Bataan Death March. Ouf, terrible stuff. You can read his obituary here and my uncle's obituary here.