Favorite Things / Pregnancy

Maternity Jeans

October 27, 2016

img_0041As I mentioned last week, I have been searching for maternity jeans that are both comfortable and don’t fall down. While I love how comfortable my J Brand pair is, I clearly purchased the wrong size because they are constantly shimmying down my hips. Not only that, but I feel like the back doesn’t quite come up as high as I would like, so I’m always worried that I’m going to find myself in a plumber-type situation (if you catch my drift), which, while that may have been a hot thing in college, is definitely not my current scene at 23+ weeks pregnant.

I also have a pair of JCrew maternity jeans, which are my sister’s (we pass maternity clothes back and forth, since we seem to trade being pregnant every 6-12 months). They are also super comfy, but since my sister is a bit taller than I am, they are not the right size and end up baggy and unflattering by the end of the day (which is great when you already feel like your whole body is kind of baggy and unflattering).

I posted a question on Facebook recently about maternity jeans and got a bunch of great responses. The number one consensus, though? Maternity jeans, just like regular jeans, are totally personal. While there were a couple of repeat votes for a few brands, overall everyone had different opinions on who made the “best” maternity jeans.

The other issue I ran into is that maternity brands seem to be sort of few and far between here in the Netherlands. I never felt like the US had tons of maternity options or anything, but maternity sizing did seem much more readily available there than it does here.

img_0039Luckily, over the weekend KC, Prim and I took our bikes into the city center to check out a sale that was happening at a large department store. We ended up wandering into an H&M which carried maternity sizing and I walked away with three (!) new pairs of maternity jeans.

Finding these jeans felt like such a win, because they’re comfortable, stay skinny all day long, and don’t fall down! Hallelujah. Plus, they were a whopping €30 per pair, so walking away with three didn’t feel like I was burning our bank account to the ground.img_0040I never thought I was an over-the-belly maternity jean kind of girl (because generally I find anything digging into my belly to be incredibly uncomfortable), but these are actually super comfortable and the extra layer is great for the cold weather here in Amsterdam. Plus, the additional fabric means I never have to worry about being mistaken for someone who fixes drainage problems for a living.

*In case you’re curious, I picked up the H&M Mama Super Skinny in blue and grey, and the Mama Bikertregging in plum (color not currently available online). US version of the Super Skinny is available here. Bikertregging doesn’t appear to be available on the US site, but similar pants available here.

Fall / Sweet

Perfect Pumpkin Bread

October 26, 2016

img_0009If you’re looking for the perfect fall recipe, look no further. Once I spotted this recipe on Smitten Kitchen’s site, I knew I had to make it. Nevermind that canned pumpkin basically doesn’t exist here in Amsterdam, which meant I had to make my own from scratch. And maybe after finally finding a pumpkin and roasting it, draining it, and pureeing it, I discovered that the pumpkin I bought didn’t make quite enough puree for the recipe. Of course. So KC kindly went back to the store and bought another pumpkin, which I then roasted, drained and pureed, yet again.

img_0013The good news is that this mishap means I have enough puree to make two loaves now, which is great since the first loaf is shaping up to be gone by the end of the day…  img_0017Loaf pans are also weirdly tough to track down here. (Well, bakeware in general seems not as readily available as it is in the US, but maybe I also just don’t know where to shop yet.) I finally found a pan at a large department store over the weekend, though it is a bit of a different shape than the loaf pans we have in the US — much longer and skinnier. img_0019Honestly, I can’t recommend this recipe enough. I mean, Smitten Kitchen recipes tend to be Ina-level successful, so I figured Deb wouldn’t steer me wrong here. But really, if you like pumpkin bread — this is the jam. It comes together quickly and makes the whole house smell like fall while it’s baking. What more could you want? img_0029You can find the recipe for the Pumpkin Bread here, and the recipe for homemade pumpkin puree below:

Homemade Pumpkin Puree

  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Cut pumpkin in half and remove the stem. (Put your back into it — it’s tough!) Scoop out the seeds, then place pumpkin cut-side down on a baking sheet wrapped in foil.
  3. Bake for 30 minutes to an hour, until the skin and flesh are easily poked with a fork. (Cooking time will vary based on size and type of pumpkin.)
  4. Let cool, then scoop flesh into a fine mesh strainer and let sit over a bowl to drain some of the liquid.
  5. Once drained, blend the flesh in a food processor or in a bowl with a hand blender.
  6. Store in an airtight container in the fridge up to one week, or in the freezer up to three months.

*If you have a large/tough pumpkin, you can speed up the roasting process by cutting it into pieces prior to roasting. This does make scooping the cooked flesh out a little more tedious, so consider peeling the pumpkin first if you’re going to go this route.

Baby / Favorite Things

Music and Children’s Books: Favorites

October 25, 2016

img_9972We don’t allow Prim to watch TV (aside from on plane flights — because pleeeease just stop screaming) so we do a lot of reading in our house. Prim is obsessed with music and books, and a lot of our day is spent reading on the couch and having Pandora dance parties.

I thought I’d share some of our favorite Pandora stations, as well as some of Prim’s favorite books, since I’m always looking for a new station to groove to (or cook to…) and new kids books to introduce to Prim.

Pandora Favorites:

  • For sing-a-longs: Disney
  • For singing and dancing parties: ABBA
  • For dance parties: Elastic Heart or Electric Love
  • Indie background music: Miike Snow or Hozier
  • Upbeat instrumental: Film Scores radio
  • Good for rainy mornings: Yann Tiersen
  • Best for nostalgia: Rick Astley, Peter Gabriel or En Vogue
  • Best for family gatherings: Dinner Party radio
  • Holiday favorites: Spooky Symphonies, Halloween Party radio, Friendsgiving radio, Christmas radio, Classical Christmas radio, Christmas Choral Classics, Christmas Traditional Radio, Swingin’ Christmas radio

Prim’s Favorite Children’s Books (right now)

*Ahem, please excuse the little potty chair in the picture above. Someone has been quite insistent about “no diapers” lately.


Pregnancy Update — October

October 20, 2016


I have a legit pregnant belly these days, which often feels twice as big at night. I feel like my belly is getting bigger faster than when I was pregnant with Prim, and even though I kind of expected this, I worry what it will mean for the third trimester. Luckily my weight gain is still low to moderate, but sometimes it feels like literally all of my weight is migrating to my midsection.

weeks: 22.5

baby’s size: spaghetti squash

i’m feeling: pretty good. This is sort of the sweet spot in pregnancy — where you look legitimately pregnant but you’re not so far along that the real pregnancy symptoms have descended in full force just yet. I am super hungry these days — especially at night, and some mornings I wake up to my stomach feeling really achy, as though I’ve been doing sit-ups all night long. (If only, right?)

food love: soup and mochas. Potato Leek Soup is the most delicious thing right now, and the amount that I can devour in a single sitting is basically Kobayashi-worthy. I’m making homemade mochas daily, too — there’s just nothing quite as comforting in this cold, rainy weather.

food hate: I don’t have any extreme food aversions right now, but I’m definitely much pickier food-wise than I am when not pregnant. The scene of me being incredibly hungry and staring into the fridge while mentally bemoaning that there’s “nothing to eat” is basically a daily occurrence. It feels like being a teenager all over again. (MOM! WHERE ARE THE BAGEL BITES?!)

3 pros for october: 1. The weather has been so wonderfully fall-like. It’s cold at night and chilly during the day. The gray, rainy days just make our warm, candlelit apartment that much cozier. 2. I’ve been cooking up a storm with all this second-trimester energy. It’s nice to feel somewhat normal after so many weeks of being completely miserable with the HG. 3. I’m so looking forward to the holiday decor and cheer that’s going to be decking the halls within the next few weeks! I will have my Christmas Pandora stations going non-stop.

3 cons for october: 1. KC has had to work a little more than usual recently (though nothing compared to the hours he used to pull in the states), which is a bummer for Prim and I because we miss our evenings with him! 2. Being back in Amsterdam and cooking regularly means going to the market just about every dayIt’s not that big of a deal, but sometimes I long for the days in California when I could do one big shop on Sunday and be stocked for the week. 3. My belly is at this weird stage where my regular jeans aren’t really comfortable anymore but my maternity jeans are still too big. First world problems for sure.

currently living in: regular clothes with the Bellaband, and diving into my maternity wardrobe as well. I definitely need a few more winter items — namely some warm sweaters that cover my bump. I’m hemming and hawing over ordering some items from ASOS since they have free shipping to the Netherlands, but I’m always so nervous about ordering clothing online, especially if I’ve never worn the brand before.

looking forward to: booking our upcoming trips to Vienna, Paris and California for Christmas!

dreaming about: the perfect pair of maternity jeans. I’m currently doing a desperate search for maternity jeans, as I’m not thrilled with either of the two pairs I have. I think I’ll end up ordering a pair of Paige skinnies, but I have to wait until I’m back in the states to get them because shipping to the Netherlands is absurdly expensive.



It Happens All the Time

October 19, 2016


I got my first “real” job when I was 16 because the assistant manager I interviewed with thought I was cute. Less than a year into my employment, he came in on his day off and kissed me while I was ringing up a customer on the register. He was easily twice my age, but I, being 16, didn’t know what to do, so I did nothing.

When I was 17 I transferred to a new store and a regular male customer flirted with me constantly. He was in his 50’s and my standard response was to laugh uncomfortably and not respond to his advances. One day as I was ringing him up he asked me how I liked to be kissed. I was visibly embarrassed and an older male coworker noticed and pushed me to tell him why. When I relayed the question, he turned to the customer and screamed at him, “She’s seventeen! SEVENTEEN!”

When I was in law school I attended a seminar at school on how to present yourself professionally in court and at job interviews. Among the helpful tips about resume formatting and setting social networks to private, was a long list of “guidelines” specifically targeted at female students: don’t wear your hair down, don’t wear too much makeup, don’t wear bright nail polish, don’t wear heels above 2 inches, don’t wear a top that’s sleeveless, low-cut or brightly colored, and always wear tights or nylons under a skirt, or better yet, opt for a pantsuit over a skirt — it’s “more professional.”

When interviewing at law firms I wore pants. I didn’t wear too much makeup. I wore conservative black wedge heels. I wore my glasses and my hair up so I wouldn’t look “too pretty.”

After being hired at a law firm at the age of 26, I was regularly asked if I was the new secretary. When I showed up for my first deposition they asked when the attorney would be arriving. When trying to file settlement papers in state court the clerk informed me that a lawyer from my firm would need to return to argue the settlement in front of the judge.

During one deposition, the claimant and his attorney immediately began discussing my attractiveness loudly and right in front of me at the table. The claimant even had the gall to turn to his attorney and ask if he thought “the carpet matched the drapes.” His older, male attorney chuckled. The female court reporter and I remained silent.

When I showed up in court for the trial involving the same claimant, his attorney strolled in and turned to my male boss, whistled and said, “That’s the best looking redhead I’ve seen in a long time.” During a court recess the claimant came up to me and said, “[The defense] brought you here on purpose because they know I can’t resist pretty girls.”

My boss was shocked and outraged by the comments. I informed him, “It happens all the time.”

After I got engaged at 26, a (childless) male partner at my firm came up to me and said, “You’re not going to have kids are you?” He proceeded to ask me repeatedly about my plans to reproduce to the point that I finally brought it up to the female partner because I no longer knew how to respond to his questions. She informed me that he was “probably just being friendly.”

When I was 27 and newly married, I was walking home from BART when a man ran up behind me and grabbed my ass. I turned around and screamed at him, calling him a “fucking pervert.” I saw him laughing as he ran across the street. I felt violated but reasoned that it was “my fault” for having been talking on the phone while I walked home, despite the fact that it was only 7pm and there were a lot of other people out. I mean, I should know better than to let my guard down like that.

Later that same year I took an early BART train to work in the city. A few stops in I glanced over at the guy sitting next to me and realized that he had started masturbating. I quietly got up and went and stood near the train doors and waited for my stop.

And you know what? I’m LUCKY, because every woman knows situations like these. So many women have known situations that are so, so much worse. I know multiple rape survivors, and you do too. Even if you don’t “know” — you know rape survivors. Trust me. It happens all the time.

Now, I’m a mother to a daughter. Soon I will be a mother to daughters. They will grow up in this world and I hope to God that things are different by the time they are my age and maybe have daughters of their own.

So if you’re wondering why I don’t support a presidential candidate who openly boasts about assaulting women, aside from the fact that he’s a completely incompetent racist imbecile without the experience or soft skills necessary to be leader of the free world, THIS is why. Because I am a woman and I live in this world. And I would be ashamed to vote in favor of ANYTHING that represents this kind of misogyny — not just for me, but for my daughters.

It is that common, it is a big deal, and it shouldn’t happen all the time.

Hillary 2016.