Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Dertien Update

Things have been busy and lively around this Dertien household. There are still lots of things to do to get ready for baby, but I am sure we will finish everything that really HAS to be done. Nicholas just finished priming the nursery, and now it is ready for him to paint.
Nicholas spent the two weeks before Thanksgiving participating in the East Austin Studio Tour. He made some great networking connections and got an amazing response to his work. It was an exhausting couple of weeks, but I think Nicholas is all rested up. I, however, will not be well rested for many, many years to come!
I thought I finished Christmas shopping a couple of weeks ago, but there are still a few stragglers, and we adopted a couple children from the Adopt-a-Family program at church. I keep joking about writing a blog post on how I collect children. The number of children on my Christmas shopping list seems to grow every year, but I love buying gifts for all my little children. It brings me such joy!
We have been working on decorating the house for Christmas. We went and got our first real Christmas tree on Sunday, but more on that later.
Happy last day of November!!


We began Thanksgiving morning with yummy homemade pumpkin waffles. Nicholas began chopping veggies for Thanksgiving dinner while we watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. I was a little sad to see everyone on the TV all bundled up when it was pushing 80 degrees here in Austin.
We went over to Nicholas' parents house for Thanksgiving dinner with 16 or so other friends and family members. After the turkey was carved, everyone enjoyed a fabulous spread of delectable dishes: potatoes, cole slaw, cranberry sauce, five cup salad, roasted butternut squash, candied sweet potatoes, rolls, green bean casserole, stuffing, and Italian meatballs.
Fortunately, the cold front rolled in just in time for us to sit down to eat and dropped the temperature 30 degrees. There was, of course, a lot of football watching, lots of conversation, and delicious desserts.
After a long day, we headed over to the Turmans' house to watch the UT vs. A&M game, of which I will speak no more. It was a wonderful day!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Weekend Visit

Last Friday I embarked on my final solo visit to Dallas sans baby. It was a busy weekend jampacked full of family and cute nieces. I visited with two grandfathers, three nieces, six siblings, and walked around the backyard looking for pecans that the squirrels hadn't already found! I had to leave early Sunday morning to make it to church for Christmas Pageant planning. We only have a few more Dallas visits before I am not allowed to travel anymore.
Where was Nicholas, you ask? He was participating in the second week of the East Austin Studio Tour. It was an amazing event. Nicholas got a lot of wonderful compliments including several people telling him that they came specifically to see his work because they liked the picture in the tour guide or because someone else recommended him. There are a lot of wonderful things brewing in his future...stay tuned.

Monday, November 22, 2010

"Real" Food

If you know me or have spent more than two minutes on my blog, you know that I like to cook, and food is an important part of my life. I blog about our favorite restaurants, recipes we are trying in the kitchen, and I just post pictures of food in general. I also read a lot of other people's blogs who write about food and food experiences. Many of these bloggers have food "journey" stories. With the impending arrival of a little baby in the household, I have been thinking a lot about food and making some serious changes. But, I'll start at the beginning...
I would be surprised if the me know would recognize the me from high school and most of college. My food habits are drastically different. In fact, if you have only known me for a few years, you would be very surprised at how often I frequented Jack in the Box, Taco Bell, and various other fast food establishments during high school (and even more surprised by the food I ordered there). You would be surprised because I scoff at fast food restaurants now, and most of those I used to frequent have not seen these size 10 feet in well over 8 years because I am now a food snob.
My quest to eat "healthy" began my junior year in college when my doctor told me I had high cholesterol. I balked at this diagnosis because I didn't really eat red meat or eggs, two of the foods I attributed to high cholesterol. This is really the first time that I started research and learn about good fats, bad fats and just food nutrition in general. This was also shortly after I spent 4 months with a broken foot and never wanted to exercise so bad in my life. So I started making changes in my life. I tried to make sure I was eating regularly (because what college kid eats regularly?), making healthy snacks, and always making sure I took food with me to class. Oh, and I started exercising regularly. I didn't have my cholesterol retested for well over a year, but it was just fine when I did, in case you were wondering.
You may have noticed that I put the word healthy in quotation marks. Why? Because my definition of healthy changes pretty much on a daily basis. Here are some general things to know about my kitchen:
  • The refrigerator is always packed with fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • The pantry is full, but with overflow appliances, not food.
  • The only red meat I cook is ground bison. This is partly for health reasons, and partly because I just don't like it.
  • I don't use canned vegetables, only fresh or frozen.
  • I avoid high fructose corn syrup like the plague.
  • I don't cook with a lot of salt.
  • I also don't really fry foods.
  • My husband is thankfully not a picky eater. He likes most everything and doesn't mind if I make soup 4 nights a week in the Fall.
The list above has been pretty consistent for several years. I "plan" meals for the week and base my grocery list on that plan, and I usually go to 3 grocery stores. Over the past year or so, I have started to make more changes to get rid of the processed food of our life. I have become very interested in knowing exactly what is going into the food I am making. You may remember that I started making our sandwich bread from scratch and no longer buy that at the store. I do buy other types of bread at the store, but typically bakery bread, not prepackaged high fructose corn syrup bread.

I have also recently stopped buying canned beans. I buy dried beans, cook them in the crockpot, and freeze them for easy use. I am appalled at the amount of additives and sodium in canned beans, and have willingly given up the convenience of just opening a can. Today I made my own pumpkin puree and should have plenty for holiday baking with enough left over to freeze for future use.

Last week I made chicken stock for the first time. I won't bore you too much, but I absolutely hate meat on the bone. I don't like touching or eating it, so it was a big step for me to willingly delve into a project that revolved around chicken bones. I have been doing a lot of reading on the important health benefits of stock, mainly because of the minerals in the bones. This is one more homemade item for my list. I am going to need another refrigerator soon!

If you are interested, here are a few other changes I have made to the kitchen:
  • I don't buy or use margarine anymore, just butter. I understand what all the ingredients in butter are.
  • We have cut out most canned tomato products because BPA (that dreaded chemical) is used to line the aluminum cans and the acidic tomatoes soak it up. That is one major convenience I have yet to find a simple solution to.
  • I have begun cooking with coconut oil, but need to learn a lot more about it!
  • I don't buy baby carrots, just regular carrots, after reading Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.
I am sure that our kitchen adventures will continue to evolve, especially as I continue to read and learn more about food in general. I am also sure that you will continue to find food adventures right here. I hope you enjoy, especially now that you have a little of the background.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Christmas at the Caswell House

I have been in love with the Caswell House since my early days of college. It sits at the top of a hill in a downtown Austin. I was excited at the possibility to have our wedding reception there, but the ballroom was too small. Of course, the venue we did use for our wedding reception was beautiful!
This is the second year I have visited the Caswell House during the Christmas event that occurs the first two weeks of November. It was beautiful!
 This is an upside down Christmas tree. I love seeing it decorated differently every year!
This year, we also enjoyed the brunch with pumpkin soup, chicken, cranberry stuffing, winter veggies, and Texas pecan chocolate cake!

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Thursday we took advantage of my work holiday for Veteran's Day and took a day trip to Houston. The Fine Arts Museum of Houston just commissioned a piece by Cai Guo-Qiang, an artist that really interests Nicholas. It was a site-specific installation comprised of 42 panels. Cai Guo-Qiang drew a landscape on the panels with gunpowder and then burned the gunpowder.
There was also a nice exhibit of Nigerian art--life-sized royal heads cast in copper.
While in Houston, we took LJ Turman to lunch. He is now a freshman at Rice University.
Do you notice the foreboding clouds in the sky?!? Shortly after this picture was taken, and by shortly I mean literally 10 feet, we were hit with torrential downpours.
Fortunately, the heavy downpour only last long enough to make rivers in the parking lot and road so Nicholas could get the umbrella from the car, because no visit to Rice Village would be complete without a trip to the Chocolate Bar.
It is a pretty amazing place, and you can watch them make yummy chocolate bars out of a ton of different molds before enjoying an delicious array of homemade ice cream.
Then we had dinner with college friend of Nicholas' from UT. We had a lovely evening of dinner and conversation before Maggie loaded our car with a snazzy stroller, crib, and baby clothes.

Giuseppe Verdi

I first fell in love with Giuseppe Verdi my senior year in high school. I was a member of the Academic Decathalon Team and Opera was the superquiz topic. This is where I first learned about famous operas by Montiverdi, Mozart, Rossini, Verdi, Wagner, Bizet, Puccini, and Gershwin. I didn't actually attend an opera until Nicholas, and I started dating, but I am in love.
Wednesday night we saw the Austin Lyric Opera's performance of Giuseppe Verdi's "La Traviata." While we were waiting for the show to start (and naively thinking we would not have anyone sitting next to us), we read the synopsis in the program. Nicholas commented that it is like Moulin Rouge. Girl is a courtesan. Girl and boy fall in love. Boys father insists that girl leave boy so boy's sister can get married. Girl leaves boy. Boy gets angry and makes embarrassing scene at a party. Boy finds out about the sacrifice girl made. Girl has consumption. Boy apologizes to girl just before girl dies. The End. Be sure to insert lots of amazing Symphony and Lyrical music, and you have yourself an amazing production.
At intermission we stepped outside to enjoy the beautiful Austin night skyline from the Long Center for Performing Arts.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

What's New Around Our House--Nursery Closet

Nicholas recently finished redoing the closet in the nursery. More nursery pictures to follow as the nursery turns into a nursery. Here is what the closet used to look like:
Here is what the nursery closet looks like now:

There are 5 shelves on the right and two rods on the left. My dresses are hanging on the bottom rod, and our coats are hanging on the top rod.

Pumpkin Patch Photo Roll

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween Weekend

We spent the weekend in Dallas visting the family and getting lots of niece and sibling love. Saturday we took a trip to two nearby pumpkin patches. Photo roll to follow!
We pretty much spent the rest of the weekend hanging out with all the family. Enjoy the photos!