Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Roasted Eggplant & Squash Macaroni (Plus a Recipe for the Leftovers)

I had the presence of mind to make sure we ordered a half-share from the organic co-op just before my surgery so we'd have plenty of fresh fruits and veggies around to help me recover.  There was an abundance of black plums which I inhaled as fast as I could and we discovered that, like his mom, Dinobaby is a fan (not so much of nectarines though).  We also had our pick of some extra veggies and I was so excited to pick out a shiny, plump eggplant. 

Post-op, I realized that my beautiful eggplant was languishing in our vegetable drawer and I was determined to use it and some yellow summer squash before they started to get spotty.  I was lucky that it fell in between the period of me feeling like a zombie from the general anesthesia and therefore wanting to get up and move and the subsequent soreness from the actual surgery.  There was a small window of feeling great, and I was perky enough to make some dinner!

Roasted Eggplant & Squash Macaroni
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 minutes


  • 1 whole Eggplant
  • 2 whole Medium To Large Yellow Squash AND/OR Zucchini
  • 1-½ Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • 1-½ teaspoon Dried Rosemary
  • 1 jar Marinara Sauce (24oz -- I Used Paul Newman's Organic Marinara)
  • 1 box Whole Grain Elbow Pasta (14.5 Oz Box)
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Parsley
  • ¼ cups Half-and-half
  • 1 can Quartered Artichoke Hearts (14 Oz), Drained And Rinsed
  • ¼ cups Grated Parmesan Cheese

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Wash and dry eggplant and cut into 1/2″ rounds. Place slices onto a paper towel-lined plate and season with salt. Let sit for at least five minutes (but up to overnight) so that the eggplant will sweat and lose its bitter flavor.

While the eggplant is sitting, cut yellow squash into 1/2″ – 1 inch cubes.
When the eggplant has released its juices, rinse the slices with a little cold water and pat dry, then cut into 1 inch cubes.

Pour the chopped veggies onto a foil-lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and season well with salt and pepper. Crush the rosemary leaves a little with your fingers and add to the veggies. Stir to make sure the squash and eggplant are well coated and place the baking sheet in the oven for 30 minutes, stirring once after 15 minutes.

While the vegetables are roasting, heat the entire jar of marinara sauce in a small pot. In another pot, prepare pasta according to the package directions, cooking for about 7 minutes.

To the pot of marinara sauce, add the fresh chopped parsley and half and half, and the drained and rinsed artichoke hearts.
When the roasted veggies are tender and caramelized and the pasta is cooked, combine the vegetables, pasta, and sauce together with the grated parmesan cheese.


Serves 8.


If you have leftovers, make this easy pasta bake for lunch to change things up a bit!

Roasted Eggplant & Squash Pasta Bake
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes

  • ½ Recipe For Roasted Eggplant & Squash Macaroni (see above)
  • 1 Tablespoon Half-and-half
  • ¼ cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • 4 slices Provolone Cheese
Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Pour leftover pasta into an un-greased casserole dish and spread into an even layer. Pour the half and half over the pasta to prevent it from drying out in the oven.

Cut provolone slices into halves and layer on top of the pasta with the shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes and serve.

Serves 4, or 3 hungry adults and a 10 month old!

Surgery Results

What a week we had.  I'm officially one week post-surgery and I'm recovering nicely.  Last Monday turned out to be a little more hellish than I'd planned, but all things considered, the day was a success.

Day of Surgery
I knew that the morning was going to be fun when the nurse setting up the IV in my arm said "Oh shoot, it's blown.  Sorry, darlin'.  I'm gonna have to do this again."  Take two left me with an IV in what had to be the smallest vein in my hand, so this week I'm sporting not two but three puce-colored bruises (the third still lingering from getting my blood drawn for all of the pre-op tests).  Matched with the ever present dark circles under my eyes, I'm sure I look like I've been experimenting with those "recreational drugs" that they asked me about while recording my medical history.  (Do you suppose anybody ever says, "Actually, yes, I do use recreational drugs"?)

Next, due to other surgeries that morning, Dr. D ended up being two hours late, so my procedure which should have started at noon didn't get going until after 2:30pm.

At least I was getting a pair of cute non-skid fuzzy socks out of this deal...
The Results
Although I'm waiting to get more detailed information about it -- things were lost in my Demerol haze and my family's translation of the report -- the surgery went very well.  My doctor was able to visually diagnose endometriosis as well as remove some scarring and adhesions, endometrial deposits, and an ovarian cyst via laser.  My husband said that he saw pictures of all of this, so I'm morbidly excited about seeing exactly what my doctor found.  Dr. D assured everyone that my case wasn't scary or out of the ordinary and that my endometriosis is moderate rather than severe, so I'm hoping that I won't be in quite so much pain every month once I've fully recovered.

The Night of the Surgery
Being prohibited to nurse Dinobaby for 24 hours and being unable to make said Dinobaby understand why his mommy couldn't hold or nurse him was MISERABLE for everyone involved.  Thank God for my wonderful husband who was up most of the night with him!

The Week Just Gets Better
We were also supposed to close on our first house last week.  Our mortgage company however gave us the total for closing costs a whopping four hours before we were set to close and the amount was astronomical. We had no idea that the amount would be that high at all (we were off by three or four thousand dollars!), but it would have literally wiped out every penny of our savings.  So, embarrassingly, we surrendered our earnest money and said, "No thanks."

While it would have been so nice to have a house, we're surprisingly relieved that we aren't buying one.  The extra time at the apartment will give us a chance to make it more homey, to save some money, and to appreciate what space we do have.

At the same time, Dinobaby is now WALKING!  He's showing me more and more each day that what I thought was sufficient for babyproofing is just an exercise that takes him a couple minutes to figure out before he's able to open/climb/pull/push/flip it.  I love my baby Hulk, but he's starting to give me a run for my money!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Social Skills

Lately, I've realized that I need to make a more concerted effort to get out of the house.  My family attended the wedding of two friends over the weekend -- the ceremony and reception were both beautiful -- and in talking to all of our other friends in attendance, I noticed that, I suppose as it should be, all I have to talk about is the baby.

"What's been going on with you lately?"
"Oh, just taking care of the baby."
"Yep.  He's so ready to walk, but right now he's still working on standing on his own."
". . . He's a good eater."
"That's good."

I suppose I should take up some hobbies.  Right now, my free time is spent showering, pumping milk, and watching Netflix.  Not really hobbies.  Must work on this.

Of course it makes perfect sense that all of my thoughts and conversation somehow lead back to the baby in some form or another.  I spend almost twenty-four hours a day with him.  He's my near-constant companion and, as I tell my husband, "he's my baby best friend."  (My husband is still my adult best friend and, naturally,  takes precedence.)

The issue is that most people don't have baby best friends. 

Other moms definitely do, but they too are so caught up in their own children's lives that it's difficult to talk to one another when we get a chance.  It seems like mom conversations are typically about how tired we are or what milestone has recently been checked off the list.  Thankfully, the YaYa Motherhood-Sisterhood of the Traveling Pampers imparts something else into those conversations -- an ability to just talk or NOT talk and have someone who completely understands why you have absolutely nothing else going on apart from your kids.

I've been trying to reconnect with some of my single or baby-free friends whom, it seems like, I haven't spent any time with since before the Dinobabe was born.  The combination of my personality, my love of home, and my aversion to hassles makes it so a little too easy for me to become isolated, just holed up here in our apartment. 

Am I the only one who's had a difficult time finding and keeping really good, trustworthy, honest and true girlfriends?  Up until recently I'd forgotten how important girl talk is.  It's always been easier for me to make friends who are male.  Women seem to be difficult to gauge and, too often, just plain catty.  Ladies, have you had the same problem?

Thankfully, though, I'm getting to know my friends here better.  Weekly coffee dates away from the apartment with another real live person (imagine that!) can really do wonders.  It's reminded me that I need to remember that friends are important, that I need an occasional break even if I'm still taking care of Dinobaby while I'm taking it, and that I really enjoy iced decaf lattes with one Splenda.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Breath of Fresh Air

Last night I woke up around 1am for the second time this week to take out my contacts after falling asleep early.  My husband and I have started conking out at the same time as Dinobaby, but it's impossible for me to just stay asleep with contacts in, unbrushed teeth, and the knowledge that I still haven't taken my daily vitamins.  As a result, I've been getting up, getting ready for bed, and wasting/enjoying time on the internet before crawling back into bed.

A friend had shared this video on their facebook page last night, and it absolutely must be shared again.

The description on the video reads, "An elderly couple walked into the lobby of the Mayo Clinic for a checkup and spotted a piano. They've been married for 62 years and he'll be 90 this year. Check out this impromptu performance. We are only as old as we feel, it's all attitude. Enjoy! They certainly do."

If that doesn't make you smile, your heart may be a few sizes too small.  In a world where the elderly are ridiculed, forgotten, and deemed unimportant (or even a waste of resources!), this video was a welcome breath of fresh air.   I feel like the sweet couple's performance itself is a fantastic analogy for what we can learn from our elders, or as most people seem to say, "old people".

Their piece began slowly, quietly.  They didn't announce their performance but simply played a few keys.  It was enough to spark the attention of a few listeners and when they had their small but captive audience, they surprised everyone with playfulness, fervor, and talent.  I wish I could hug both of them!  "Old people" have so much to share, if only we are willing to listen. 

My grandparents were married for nearly 70 years when they passed away, one less than a year after the other.  My Nana used to tell me of their great, enduring love for one another and how it all began.  "She remembers everything," my Grandy would say.  "I can't even remember what I ate for breakfast!"

She was born in a little Texas town in 1915.  He was five years her senior and from an equally small town several miles away.  By the time they met, he was the manager at the local five-and-dime general store.  He was tall, with an open face and green eyes.  She was absolutely beautiful with dark hair and eyes and a quick wit to match.

My Nana swore that it was love at first sight.  She told me that the first time she saw my grandfather, she prayed, "Lord, I will do anything you want, I'll go through anything you put in front of me, if you just let me have him."  What a prayer!  It was answered and they were married in 1933.

If only loving, life-long relationships like theirs were the norm instead of the exception.  I can only hope that I will remember to bring such good humor and childlike spontaneity my marriage and to love with the same deep, enduring love as they did.  Everyone loves a good love story, but they're so much better when they're in real life!

Monday, August 2, 2010

An Aesthetic Theory

I was talking with my husband the other night as we were getting Dinobaby ready for bed and I remembered a random theory that I came up with once.  At the time, I thought it was pretty brilliant.  My husband wasn't so sure.

"Women are considered 'ugly' they look more masculine.  When men are considered to be ugly, they tend to look more like animals.  You know, like monkeys or horses.  More feminine men aren't considered ugly, but just pretty guys.  It doesn't work the same way for women."

"How old were you when you thought of this?" asked my husband.

"In middle school," I said. 


I'm not sure if he asked because he thought my theory on aesthetics was intriguing or silly.  Personally, I think it holds true, at least in what the world considers to be beautiful.

In a similar vein, I had a philosophy professor whose girlfriend felt that every person could be categorized as either a bird or a rabbit.  I'd argue that horses should be throw into the mix, but she may be on to something.  I would likely be a rabbit.  How about you?

Sunday, August 1, 2010


Well, it seems as though I've reached the inevitable point that my body has been approaching for the last five or six years.  Okay, that's probably a little too dramatic.  Let's try again.  It's not normal to be in pain every day, so I've finally decided that it's the right time to have a laparoscopy done to visually confirm my diagnosis of endometriosis and to see just how severe it is.  I have my pre-op appointment on the 18th, and then surgery on the morning of August 23rd.

I'm sure that most of you who might be reading are already familiar with these next few terms, thanks to my desensitization regarding the use of words like "ovary," "cycle," and "uterine tissue" in everyday conversation.  I really do need to apologize to some of my male friends for that one. 

For clarity's sake though, endometriosis is a disease in which deposits of endometrial tissue, such as that found lining the walls of the uterus, are found in other areas of the abdomen.  These adhesions act and react to hormones within the body just as the tissue within the uterus does, causing cyclical internal bleeding and, consequently, varying amounts of pain and discomfort for those who have the disease, not to mention a high percentage of infertility.  (Strangely enough, there has been no correlation found between the amount of pain experienced and the actual degree of severity of the endometriosis in patients.)

The laparoscopy is a procedure in which gas is used to distend the abdomen and an OB/GYN inserts a small fiberoptic microscope through an incision around the navel to observe the internal organs.  If endometrial tissue is present, they can laser remove it and collect tissue samples for biopsy.

Sheesh.  While I'm really glad that we'll finally get to know just how bad things are in there, I'm not looking forward to the few days that I won't be able to bend much or pick up heavy objects (22lb. baby, anyone?).  Plus, because of the anesthesia and pain medications after the surgery, I won't be able to nurse Dinobaby for the first days of recovery.  We'll see how all of that pans out.  Thankfully, my parents will be able to come down to help us while my husband is at work.  It's going to be a busy time.  Monday, surgery.  Wednesday, close on the house!  What a week.

Please keep me in your prayers. :)

Peanut Butter

Is it strange that as I waited for Dinobaby to fall asleep for the night, my recurrent thought was, "I can't wait to open the new jar of peanut butter!"?

Natural.  Organic.  Chunky.  Dark Roasted.

Lately I've been eating it by the spoonful and, so far as I know, I don't have the excuse of pregnancy for my newly developed food craving.  Peanut butter has always been my staple for blood sugar emergencies, which has made me have a bit of a love/hate relationship with it.  The smell of warm peanut butter makes me feel sick.  Have you ever closed the jar of peanut butter, licked the knife, and run it under hot water so it won't just sit in the sink getting petrified?  I hate the smell of warm, melting peanut butter.  On a sidenote, I once took a personality test that asked the question, "Do you lick knives?"  I suppose the fact that I do says something about my personality, but I'm not sure if that's good or bad.

My latest find, since I really have (sort of) been trying to test out the diet from Fertility, Cycles & Nutrition, is a brand of natural peanut butter from Whole Foods.  It's still not the kind that you grind for yourself right there in the store because I'm absolutely terrified and ignorant about the machines they have there.  "Oh, the poor dear!  She lost her finger in a peanut grinder accident."  I can just imagine too many things going wrong with that one.  So, I'm happily stuck with the peanut butter that comes in a jar.

I've always been a little averse to natural peanut butter, thanks in part to the brand my Nana used for her own blood sugar emergencies when I was a little girl.  I can still remember sitting in the backseat of my grandparents' car and being so excited to share a snack with her.  Tiny metal cans of pineapple juice and saltine crackers and natural peanut butter made into little sandwiches.  The crackers would turn to mush on contact with your tongue and the peanut butter was the perfect mortar to keep a chatty six year old quiet for a few minutes.  (Now that I think of it, that was pretty genius of them.)  I never loved the peanut butter, but I was so excited to see those crackers as my Nana snuck them out from inside her purse.  I loved sharing them with her.  To this day, I get a little emotional if I buy myself a pack of those little cans of pineapple juice.

I've had a change of heart in the peanut butter department.  I crave it by itself, unadulterated by toast or jelly, in a heaping tablespoon.  Serve it with a glass of cold milk and, lately, it's a sure thing to make me a happy camper.