Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Best Tortilla Soup

The days here in North Carolina have finally started to cool down (thank god), leaving me with a craving for hot soup and a little bit of the taste of home. For days now I've been wanting to make tortilla soup, so after scrounging Pinterest for the best recipes, I came up with this. It's a mix up of the best aspects of each recipe.

Serves 5
Ready in about 1 hour

-2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
-3-4 Tbs oil separated (I used coconut)
-3 Tbs taco seasoning (I make my own. I'll post that recipe too)
-1 medium white onion chopped
-6-7 cloves garlic minced
-1-2 Tbs adobo sauce
-1 (14.5 oz) can cut tomatoes with green chiles
-32oz chicken broth
-1 lime
-1/3 cup cilantro
-corn tortillas
-avocados/cilantro/limes/queso fresco for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375° Fahrenheit. Top your chicken breast with half of the oil and sprinkle with taco seasoning. Cook for 30-45 minutes or until juices run clear.
Meanwhile, heat the rest of the oil in a stock pot and add the onions. Cook for 5-6 minutes or until translucent. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Add the adobo sauce and tomatoes. Cook for a few minutes before adding chicken broth, cilantro, lime, and about a cup and a half of water (I just fill the tomato can and pour it in). Let simmer until your chicken is done.
While that's working pan fry your tortillas until they are crispy (or if you are lazy use tortilla strips, but they won't be as good).
When the chicken is cooked, shred it and add it to the soup (I do this while they are still hot using 2 forks so I don't burn my piggies). Now taste your soup. Does it need salt? Add some. But don't go all crazy (especially if you are using tortilla strips, those suckers are salty). Not spicy enough? Throw in some more taco seasoning. Needs more zing? Add some more lime juice.
Serve hot garnished with half an avocado cut into cubes, cilantro, crumbled queso fresco, and lime juice. Sit back and devour that tasty deliciousness.

****UPDATE: *Forehead Slap* Why didn't you all tell me I forgot to post the taco seasoning recipe?
-1 Tbs chile powder
-2 tsp onion powder
-1 tsp each:
-1/2 tsp salt
Mix it all up in a bag (I label my bag with the ingredients so I can reuse it next time). Double it! Triple it! If you're feeling really crazy quadruple that mess. It keeps almost indefinitely.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Birth of Cyan

So here is the long awaited story of the birth of Cyan Burgin.

His birth, and my pregnancy with him, are unique, in that I chose to stray from the beaten path with a decision that left many of my family and friends afraid for my life, but left me so completely content that I knew I was making the right decision for myself and my child. I chose an unassisted pregnancy and an unassisted birth. For those of you that are unfamiliar with the lingo that means that I didn't have traditional prenatal care or delivery. I took it upon myself to do my own prenatal care. I weighed myself. I made sure that I was eating well. I checked my own fundal height. I researched the shit out of procedures and practices that are considered necessary when seeing an ob/gyn for care. I decided, given that I was extremely low risk, that it wasn't necessary for me to see a surgeon for care in what I anticipated to be a completely normal pregnancy, and that the routine tests (gestational diabetes/group b strep/down syndrome screening/etc.) where just not needed in my situation. Many people will probably disagree with me (and many of them did!) but I did my homework, and I was (and am) at peace with my decisions. Now just to give you a little more information into my circumstances, in the state of North Carolina lay midwives are not recognized, but even if they were my insurance wouldn't cover seeing one. Not to mention that a full THIRD of births in NC are delivered by cesarean section. Seriously?!? That means one in three women will have their child surgically removed. ONE IN THREE. That is freaking terrifying if you ask me. NO THANK YOU. I was afraid I would be bullied into unnecessary interventions. I was afraid I would be fear-mongered into being cut open for the "safety" of my child, and what sane women wouldn't let them do it when they are told that their baby might die? That their baby is in danger? So, I chose to see my family practice doctor one time to confirm my pregnancy. After that I did my own care. I also chose to undergo the anatomy scan, but of course I knew that I would not terminate the pregnancy no matter what the scan showed. I did it for my own peace of mind.

The scan showed that I had a low lying placenta. I wasn't surprised, I had the same condition with Weiland. It isn't really something to worry about, because as your uterus grows the placenta "moves" up and away from your cervix (if your placenta doesn't move, many doctors will schedule a c-section, because the placenta can block your cervix keeping the baby from coming out which would put your child at serious risk). I scheduled another scan to make sure that my placenta had moved. The second scan showed that it had moved up and away from my cervix, and also that our baby was another boy!!

I felt so content during my pregnancy, and couldn't wait for my little boy to get here.
I thought for sure, along with all of my family and friends, that Cyan would make his appearance with the full moon on April 25th. After all, my first came with the full moon. I was then 39 weeks pregnant and more than ready to meet him! Well I set myself up for major disappointment. The full moon came and went with not even a little bit of false labor to accompany it. Talk about frustrating!!
Not too frustrated to take a selfie for Facebook though ;)

Over the next few weeks I had a couple of nights where I thought for sure I was going into labor, only to go to bed and have the contractions completely disappear. I was starting to get impatient, and I had more than one well meaning suggestion from friends and family on how to induce myself. I feel very adamantly that babies come when they are ready to. I had an augmented labor with my first and it was so painful. I wanted my labor to start and proceed on it's own terms. Meanwhile my due date came and went. I got a lot of "How long is your Dr. going to let you go?"'s, I told them as long as it takes. I hadn't really advertised my decision to go unassisted, so people assumed that I would be going in for induction any day. I really had to start questioning how far "past due" I felt comfortable going. I told myself 2 weeks, but I really think that if it came down to it I would have been fine going longer as long as I felt healthy and I felt that baby was moving well. To be honest I really hoped I wouldn't have to make that decision!

My mom flew into town on May 8th, at this point I was 40+6. She had been so afraid that she was going to miss his birth, so she was beyond excited that I was still pregnant when she got here. Originally I was afraid to have her here. She had expressed acute fear and anxiety when I told her I was having this baby on my own. I was afraid that her fear would be contagious and that I wouldn't be able to do what I needed in order to have this baby. Frankly, I was afraid she would stall my labor and I would end up in the hospital. In the end I think I was able to help her overcome her fear.  We had several long talks before she came about my plans, about everything I had learned about birth. I addressed her biggest fears and assured her that I was completely confident in my body's ability to give birth to this baby. After all, that's what it was made to do!
3 days before Cyan arrived.
I'm sure her presence is what did it. I'd missed my mom. It was wonderful to stay up late catching up with her, laughing and feeling carefree. I went to bed that night with a light heart, and I woke up in what I knew was true labor. It was the first time that I had been unable to sleep through my contractions. At around 3:30 a.m. I climbed out of bed, giving up on sleep, and being the vain creature that I am, I curled my hair, painted my nails, and put on make-up. Well now it was 4:30 and I was having contractions on average 9-10 minutes apart. They weren't incredibly intense and mostly I was just excited in the knowledge that I was going to have a baby that day! I let everyone sleep as long as possible, reading Harry Potter,  and savoring the time to myself. 5 o'clock came, and with it Brandon's alarm. He got himself up and started getting ready for work, at which point I told him there was no way he was going to work today, and that his time would be better spent getting the birthing pool pumped up and ready to go. At this point he gave me one of those "Are you SURE?" looks, and I told him of course I was sure! DO IT. This was the first time I had told him I was SURE I was in labor. Before it had always been, let's wait and see, let's time them and see. So, this time he knew I meant business. The morning hours flew by. We ate breakfast. At some point Weiland woke up and joined us, and was immensely disappointed that the pool wasn't for him! Eventually I decided that I needed some distraction so I sent my mom to the store for Harry Potter dvd's (what some of you may not know is that Harry Potter is my happy place. Harry Potter is just so magical and wonderful, and I SO wish that I was a witch, so you see it was essential. I NEEDED Harry Potter). About the time she got home from the store I called my photographer (the owner of Three Peas Photography and the insanely talented Mary Johnston). I told her this time I was for real and she needed to get a sitter for her kids and head over here pronto! I had no idea how fast or slow my labor would be, but at this point my contractions were averaging 5 minutes apart and were getting intense.
I'm so excited here! Waiting for the birthing pool to fill up. (Photo taken by Rose Evans ©)

Mary got here before I knew it, and at this point I was really enjoying myself. I was enjoying the freedom of being able to do as I pleased as labor progressed. I think it was sometime around noon Brandon made everyone sandwiches. Initially I declined (no eating during labor, right?!) but after tasting his, I HAD TO HAVE A SANDWICH!! Like, I was going to kill someone if I didn't have one. Seriously. It was the best sandwich of my life, hands down. I wish someone had taken a picture of me eating it. They would've seen bliss. After my sandwich we decided that it might be time to get into the pool. I was having trouble focusing during contractions. So I hopped in, and let me tell you it felt AMAZING.

So I hung out in the pool for a while. Contractions continued to be about 5 minutes apart. I started to feel really hungry, so I ate an odwalla bar that I had been saving for labor. And then my water broke. Maybe my body just needed a little bit of energy? It was 12:45. At first I wasn't sure that it had broken. It kind of felt like a fart? I don't know, but I wasn't sure, and Mary and Brandon laughed at me. We started to see "debris" in the water, and I could feel fluid gush out of me when I moved, so that confirmed it. Hooray!! Baby was coming!

This is about the time things got serious. Contractions were NO JOKE.

The water felt great, but the contractions were taking ALL of my concentration. It was about now that I realized that I am NOT a quiet birther. I'm pretty sure anyone within a 10 mile radius could probably hear me bellowing. I found that the only way I could work through the contractions was by vocalizing. I tried to remember loose lips = loose bottoms, but it was hard to concentrate on anything. I felt like my very being was being ripped from my body. I guess in a way it was. It was the moment where one was becoming two.

I clung to Brandon for dear life. I bit down on my towel. I squeezed my birthing necklace so hard my hands hurt. I cried. Brandon was my rock. He was keeping me going. As long as he was there I knew I was okay. I knew I could do this.

The contractions just kept getting stronger and stronger. I felt like I REALLY needed to have a bowel movement (in retrospect I think I was entering transition - DUH!) so I climbed out of the pool and made my way to the bathroom. I labored alone in there for a while, it felt horrible. Sitting on the toilet was really uncomfortable. I decided that even if I did have to go it wasn't going to happen so I wandered into the bedroom. This turned out to be a terrible idea. I felt like I was being ripped in half. Without the water I found that I couldn't tolerate my labor anymore. And even worse, my husband was no where to be found! Throughout my pregnancy I had told him to just follow my cues when the day came. I told him that if I hid in the closet I wanted him to just leave me alone to do my thing. A request that I maybe hammered in a little TOO well. He was outside doing yard work while I was DYING in the bedroom. What the hell was he thinking?!? I found myself screaming for him. There was no way I was going to make it to the back door to get him. My contractions had started piggy backing on one another. I truly thought I was going to have that baby all alone on my bedroom floor. At this point Mary came to the rescue! She got Brandon back inside with me.
Some sweet kisses from my oldest son in between contractions.
I felt better, but I still wasn't coping well. Every contraction was leaving me screaming and breathless.

Brandon tried to help me by doing counter pressure, but the end of our bed was awkward and cramped and he somehow managed to cut his foot open on a carpet tack. He tried to play it off and ignore it so he could take care of me, but he was bleeding everywhere! I had to scream at him to go get a bandage before he finally listened. I think he could tell I was losing it, and he was at risk of further bodily injury if he didn't listen to me, so he obliged. When he came back he told me to get back in the pool. I told him NO! I can't do it! I can't move! I'm dying!! He told me he'd carry me if he had too, but I NEEDED to be in the water. (He later told me that the change in my labor in and out of the water was terrifying. That he was fully prepared to drag me back to that pool kicking and screaming if he had to.) So he half ran half carried me back to the pool. It did feel better. I'm glad he made me move. I think at this point I was literally minutes away from having this baby.

It was around this time that Mary quietly asked me if I felt like pushing. Pushing? No. It was all I could do to keep from losing my mind. I was about to break into a million pieces and float off into space. Into nothingness. I was out of my body looking in. But then I tried it.

Oh my god PUSHING! It felt SO good. I felt alive again. I felt like I was in control. Like I could actually DO something. I pushed with every fiber of my being. A contraction would hit and I would just PUSH as hard as I could. Sweet Mary reminded me that I was going to hurt myself and tire myself out if I kept it up. I needed to slow down. (She was an absolute angel. Who knew that this woman I barely knew could be such great support for me? She did an amazing job and I am forever in her debt.)

And then he was coming. I had NO idea he was so close to being born. I thought I would feel him in front, but really he was further back, closer to my bum. I had a moment of panic. I thought I felt his cord being pinched. I had no idea that his head would feel so squishy. I thought he was in danger! I freaked out, but was quickly calmed down by Brandon and Mary's reassurances. I kept pushing. It hurt! It BURNED. But I knew he was coming. I knew it meant that he was almost here. I kept working. And then his head was born! Oh it felt so good!!

Brandon reached in to help guide him out. He was afraid the baby would drown. We reassured him that he hadn't taken his first breath yet.

I pushed some more! I was almost done! Just a few more pushes!! And then he was born! I barely remember this part. I remember Mary instructing Brandon that it was okay to tug him out once his shoulders were born.

Oh but he was perfect! It was 2:55. Barely 2 hours after my water broke.

 It was over! I did it!! I was so in love. He was so beautiful.
 And he was MAD! He had a glorious set of lungs on him. He YELLED! It was amazing. I did it. WE did it.

 We dried off and moved to the bedroom to rest. I still hadn't birthed the placenta.

He was a bit blue, and it took him a few minutes to work a bit of phlegm out of his throat, but he nursed like a champ! He was so strong!
 We waited until the cord stopped pulsing before Brandon cut it while my mom held Cyan. I had a hard time birthing the placenta. I guess I thought my work was done. I didn't realize how much it would hurt. Every time I stood up BAM huge intense contractions that buckled my knees. I didn't think I could do it! I knew I had to. I felt completely blindsided because I didn't know this part hurt too. I don't remember birthing my placenta with my first. I had an epidural and I couldn't feel it. It took my husband forcing me to get up and "JUST PUSH IT OUT!" to actually do it. But then it was over. Such sweet relief! I was finally done.
My parents held him while I birthed the placenta. My dad's flight landed at almost the exact moment Cyan was born. He got to see him moments after he entered this world!

Brandon helped me take a quick shower and change of clothes before we weighed him. We knew he was big. After all he was born at a full 41 weeks!

But even I was surprised at the 9 pound 8.3 ounces! He was HUGE! His newborn outfit came up to his armpits. Well no way that was going to work! Oh well. :)

We were done. I KNEW we could do it.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Ring Tie BWCC with Sweetheart Passes a "Tutorial"

OK so I seriously need to make a mash-up of all the mess up videos I made before I got one I could use. I have no idea how all of you Vloggers do it! Here is a back wear cross carry with sweetheart passes and ring tie off. DIY osnaburg wrap size 5-ish. Medium slinrings. 3 month old baby. ;)

Mama tested, little brother approved. 

Aaaaaaaaand SCENE.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Purple Hair

Yeah this is old. I meant to post it weeks ago, but I have tiny babies and a bad short term memory. Don't hate.
I decided a while ago that my hair needed to be purple again. A charming shade of heliotrope would do. It's really not that hard. If I can do it with a 7 week old and a toddler on my hands you can do it too.
First off you'll have to bleach. Lucky for me my hair is already blonde, so all I have to do is my roots:
Sexy right?
If you've never bleached your hair, just follow the directions on the package. They'll walk you through it step by step.
Now add the purple! I like Manic Panic's Ultra Violet, but there are lots of choices, choose what you like. I also dilute mine a bit with conditioner so that it isn't as dark. There is no science behind it I just mix some in.
And you thought I couldn't get any sexier...
I usually use an applicator brush, but I won't lie, sometimes I just slap that shit on like conditioner and brush it through. Works just as well, honestly. Leave it in for 45 minutes then rinse it out with cold water (the coldest you can stand!). I like to do a vinegar rinse at this point, it's supposed to help the color last longer. Not sure if this is actually the case, but vinegar is cheap, and a great conditioner, so who cares? After it's dry run a flat iron through it to seal the color in. Voila. Luscious purple locks.

Warning: Tiny babies may be terrified of you now.
Don't worry, pop em in a sling and they'll forgive you!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

DIY Woven Wrap

Ok so for the past week my husband has been out of town for work, and I knew I would need something to keep my hands busy while he was gone. As you know I wear my babies. Up until now I have survived with a ring sling, a faux moby, and a couple of circular wraps. Then I learned about woven wraps. Oh my gosh you guys WOVEN WRAPS. They come in all shades, sizes, fabrics, and patterns. Swoooooon!

And HOLY CRAP are they expensive. Sure, sure, many will argue that they are worth the price. I mean they are HAND WOVEN, on a LOOM. Those people are right. Totally worth it. But in case you haven't noticed yet, I'm cheap, and broke, and dear husband is an unwilling participant in the government furlough (don't get me started), so we're even poorer than we would normally be... So I decided to make my own! Booyah.
One of my friends introduced me to this group, and they helped me loads in learning how.

First thing I did was find out what size I wanted. I decided a size 4 sounded good (completely arbitrarily since I've never owned one and had no idea). Then I decided on a fabric. Although linen, and linen/cotton blends are good, they are expensive, and since expensive is what I'm trying to avoid I opted for osnaburg. Osnaburg is a woven cotton utility fabric usually found near the muslin at the fabric store. I got mine from Hancock Fabrics for dirt cheap. It retailed for $3.99, but I had a 50% off coupon and 15% off for military appreciation so I got it for less than $2/yard!!! Hells yes! I bought 4 yards as a size 4 is just shy of 12 feet, and I knew the fabric would shrink when washed. 

I got that baby home threw it in the washer on hot, and then dried it on high heat. I quickly ironed it, and that baby was ready to cut! (I learned after the fact that it is easier to tear osnaburg.)

Wraps only need to be about 32" and since my fabric was 43" it needed to lose a few!
After I trimmed the width I decided to do tapers. I free handed a slight curve into mine. (Tapers make knotting easier, but as I discovered, shorten the length of your wrap, as you tie above the taper, so in the end I ended up with a long size 3).
UPDATE: DO NOT CUT YOUR TAPERS LIKE THIS!!! If you want a taper cut in one direction leaving your final product looking like a parallelogram (not a trapezoid or in my case with two pointed ends). If you cut it like I did you won't be able to tighten your rails easily and you will be frustrated and want to kill your wrap. SO, like THIS: /----/, not like this: /----\ or <---->. 

Next it needed to be hemmed. A rolled hem is best to prevent your wrap from tearing and for bearing the weight of your baby. All this means is that you fold it over twice before sewing. I did myself a favor and ironed mine, I suggest you do too.
Then I just sewed around the edges!
I had to try it on immediately. I take horrible selfies, but you get the point. :)
Now the natural fiber color is pretty, but it just isn't my style so I started looking into dying options. I quickly found out that Rit dye is a no-no for babies. Babies like to suck on their carriers. They think it's delicious.
So dying with caustic chemicals seemed like a bad idea. I decided to try to use natural dyes, you know, do it old school. At which point I stumbled upon this:
Check out her tutorial here.
 Gorgeous right?!? I wanted that. ^THAT is fabric dyed with turmeric. So I ran to my local organic market which happens to have an awesome bulk spice section and I bought myself a bag of turmeric ($.89!!). The only other thing I needed was Alum, which I already had (thanks mom!), so I set to work.
I decided to do a test run with scraps I had leftover from cutting, and it's a good thing I did! My Facebook group Dyed Baby Carriers taught me about the importance of Soda Ash (otherwise known as washing soda or sodium carbonate) in the traditional dying process. I thought I would try it with just turmeric and alum first, since that's what my tutorial said to do (sorry I forgot to take pictures of this step). After that I gradually added washing soda. Here's what happened:
It turned the turmeric a deep burgandy/orange color. Neat! But totally not what I was going for...
Here are my scraps drying.
This is what they looked like after I threw them in the dryer:
Whoa! Totally gorgeous, right? I concluded that if I wanted that bright sunshiny yellow I shouldn't add any soda ash at all.

Thanks to the tutorial I knew I needed a 2:3 ratio of alum to turmeric. I used 1/4 cup Alum and 1/3 cup Turmeric.
I knew that was right thanks to this:
Thanks measure magnet! :)
I poured them all in my biggest stock pot and waited for them to come to a boil.
Once it was boiling I turned it down to a simmer and added my fabric (which I wet down first in the sink).
I let it hang out in there on low heat for about an hour, giving it a poke every now and then with a shish kabob stick to make sure it was getting dyed evenly (don't use anything that you don't mind turning yellow to stir your wrap). After that I dumped it into the sink and rinsed it under cold water.
This didn't work for 2 reasons:
1) I'm lazy
2) I'm impatient
So I threw that sucker into the washer to finish rinsing.
After it dried it looked like this!
Whoa! Great picture. Thank you, little man, for the photo bomb. Almost managed to get your face in there didn't you?
It didn't turn out as bright as my scrap did. I'll admit I'm a little disappointed, but really it did turn out pretty gorgeous considering I had no idea what I was doing and it was basically a massive science experiment. 

After this I decided, Gee, that burgundy color is awfully pretty. I should try a gradient dye! So here is what I did. Again I followed this tutorial (sort of).
I found a tub and hung my wrap from pants hangers over the shower curtain rod that I moved down. It was too long to fit in the bathtub, so I settled for just outside (hey, at least it's still in the bathroom!). I mixed my turmeric and water and this time I added 1/4 washing soda to turn it that awesome burg color. I made just enough to fill the bottom inch or so of the tub.
I used a marker to mark how much warm water I wanted to add to make the gradient (this turned out to be a superfluous step as a tea kettle full raised the water about an inch). I let my wrap steep for about 20 minutes and then started adding water every 5 minutes. After every add I refilled my kettle and put it back on the burner, because I wanted my water to stay hot.
Be careful not to splash when you pour in the water or it will leave marks on your wrap. I didn't do such a great job!
I kept adding water until I reached the top of my tub, at which point I pulled the wrap out and let it drip for about 20 minutes to let the dye set (in retrospect I think I should have just let it dry without rinsing, but se la vie).
Wrap before rinsing. SO pretty!!
I then rinsed it in the tub, and threw it in the dryer. This is what I ended up with:
Yeah... not so much what I expected. But it's my first dye job, it was bound to be imperfect! Cy doesn't seem to mind, in fact he fell asleep in the time it took me to wrap him and take a picture. Maybe I'll try again... maybe I won't. But there you have it. Naturally dyed sunshine/gradient wrap. I love it.