In general, I don’t mention my husband all that much on here. I figure the people who know me know him, and he has his own blog and all the usual crap about separate identities, blah blah blah. It’s as much for him as it is for me, because I know my personality and things I write aren’t always the best for selling his work.
But right now we’re in the midst of a Kickstarter, plus I’m about to have his kid, so I figure now’s a good time to talk about Adam, or at least the project he’s about to launch (hopefully).
For the past year, he’s done a 365 project, painting a canvas a day, the subject of each one being somebody famous. This has meant that, for a full year, I’ve had a daily questioning about whether a sketch captured the essence of a person. Most of the time I’ve known the person or character, but there have been a few where I gave a blank stare and did a quick Google Image search.
Of course, he started that project without any warning. I remember us sitting in the living room, watching TV; as always, Adam was sketching and I was writing. He announced he wanted to do a canvas a day thing. I said it sounded like a cool idea. Neither of us thought it through.
We didn’t think about the fact that the house we were living in was getting pulled out from under us (our landlord was in foreclosure, so it was a ticking clock for when we’d have to move). We didn’t think about it being two months before all the obligatory days of celebration for Christmas. We didn’t think about all the good and bad things that can happen in a year that might make it so you don’t want to paint a canvas by midnight.
But he did it. He made it through all 365 days. Around day 250, we were already discussing the ‘what next’ question. (Mainly because we were both getting asked what he’d be doing next, so figured we should have some sort of answer.) Of course, by then, we were well on our way to having our kid. (Not entirely sure how we timed it so well, but I officially hit full term on the day after the project ended.)
Along with brainstorming ideas for a new project — the only certainty was that doing a daily canvas wasn’t going to be an option with a newborn in the house — we also started talking about things that would be cool to produce to commemorate the end of the first project. With a list of thing to whittle down, it became clear the only way to do it was to launch a Kickstarter campaign. Neither of us had ever run one before.
So now we’re approaching the final 24 hours of the campaign and still need to get backers for another £635 to reach the goal. Ever the worrier, I’m shitting myself while Adam gets on with things that need to be done.
The new project would be a canvas a week, which will allow him to work on a bigger scale and mix in fine art pieces. Over the past year, he hasn’t been able to do many fine art style pieces, simply because painting a small canvas every day while also dealing with everything life throws at us takes up most of his waking hours.
One thing that we both thought was missing from this year’s project was any kind of show. With canvases all selling in advance, there was no way to hold things back and put any exhibit together. Instead, they just got memorialised in the project’s page. That’s why having a show is part of this new project. It’s also something that isn’t necessarily going to be a gallery thing. With pop culture as a subject matter, the show could be better suited to an unexpected venue. Of course, that’s all stuff that costs money, which is another reason to do the Kickstarter campaign.
Anyway, if you haven’t checked out the work Adam does, do it now. And if you’re looking for some gifts for yourself or anyone else, check out the rewards you can snag through backing his Kickstarter (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mcleveyart/persona-project-20).
One of the side effects of pregnancy that has hit me since before I even found out I was pregnant is something called dysgeusia. Many things haven’t quite tasted as they should (particularly chicken, lamb, and some cheeses), and I often have a weird taste in my mouth after eating things. The one thing that hasn’t been changed is my sweet tooth, which has left me with an almost medical need to have something sweet at the end of a meal (I might be self-medicating and self-diagnosing on that front, but who cares…).
The other day I really wanted something both coconutty and chocolatey. Luckily, having a ridiculously well-stocked pantry for all things baking, the solution was at hand. The result was a lovely coconut and chocolate chip cake that wasn’t too overwhelmingly heavy, though not exactly light.
As with everything I make, the recipe is all in ‘more or less’ terms. I sorta measure, but precision is boring. I also go with both US and UK measures for things (whichever is easier at the time), but there are plenty of good conversion sites around (I usually use PastryScoop).
Coconut and Chocolate Chip Cake
- 150 g unsalted butter
- 150 g sugar
- 1.5 t vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 150 g self-rising flour
- 100 g dessicated coconut
- 100 g semi-sweet chocolate chips
Heat oven to Gas 4 (180 C or 350 F).
In a large, microwave-safe bowl (I used my beloved Pyrex mixing bowl), partially melt the butter so that it’s soft and a bit liquidy. (This step may have been included because the butter I left out to soften hadn’t softened much, but it worked out so go with it.)
Add sugar and vanilla and mix well.
Add eggs and mix well.
Add flour, coconut, and chocolate and mix well. (I said this was easy…)
The batter will be fairly thick in the end. Spoon into pan and level out with spatula. (The recipe should fit into an 8-inch round or medium loaf pan. I have a load of disposable foil trays — roughly 3 inches by 6 inches each — that I’ve been using for batch freezing, so used two of those. Baking time will obviously vary depending on what sort of pan used. I didn’t bother buttering the pans, but it might be worth using a pan liner or buttering a standard pan.)
Bake for 30 minutes or until top is golden and cake is set.
I let the cakes cool for about 10 minutes before diving in, so the chocolate chips were nice and melty still. It’s also been good as a next-day cake, though you get a lot more crumbling from the coconut.
The standard length of human gestation is 40 weeks, dated from the last menstrual period. The whole 9 months thing is an approximation that more or less works out to the same amount of time. My estimated due date is set for November 14th, which means that yesterday would place me at 8 months pregnant. Today I am at 35+5, meaning 35 weeks and 5 days. I’ve stopped remembering actual dates. Everything is put in terms of weeks and days.
Time is going fast. It seems like only a few days ago that I posted on Facebook that I was 30 weeks pregnant, and now I’m suddenly approaching 36 weeks. Four weeks and two days until my due date. I’m both ready for pregnancy to be over and massively unprepared.
Earlier in pregnancy, I had decided that I would work up to labour. Now, I’m not so sure. All I do is sit on a sofa, writing blog posts on a laptop. Yet this makes me entirely exhausted. Completely drained. Standing up is an effort. Staying awake is an effort. If I have any task to complete in a given day, that’s all I can do.
It’s all hit me fairly quickly. A few weeks ago, as I hit the 30-week mark, I wasn’t quite so exhausted. I foolishly thought that this was my reprieve from all the difficulties pregnancy could throw at me. Yes, I was knocked by hyperemesis. Yes, I was hit with pelvic girdle pain. But maybe the third trimester would be the one I sailed through.
The third trimester has been, by far, the easiest. It’s been full of appointments, but there haven’t been any new acronyms. There have been birth plans that take into account all the lovely little things that make me high risk, from brain to blood. And there has been exhaustion. Mental exhaustion, physical exhaustion, and horrible overheating.
I described my early pregnancy as a hangover without the fun the night before. Late pregnancy is the comedown of prescription stimulants without the fun of ever having been chemically alert. It’s the feeling of having been awake for far too long, that point where the bungee cord snaps you back and you have no clue what the hell you were doing or thinking or why you’re looking at whatever it is you’re looking at. It’s the point where you’re exhausted, but not exactly tired. Your brain has shut down for the evening, and your body wants to follow, but something is still preventing them from just letting you sleep.
I know the pregnancy exhaustion is meant to be nothing compared to the having a baby exhaustion. I know that dealing with a newborn is supposed to be much more tiring and exhausting and all-consuming. But I just don’t know. The past 30-odd weeks have proven to me that everything that is meant to be anything is a big load of crap. They have reinforced that everyone has a different experience of things, and that the experiences of others can be something for comparison, but aren’t a guide of what I will actually experience.
So I’m riding out these last few weeks. I might accept defeat, admitting that I’m too tired to do things. I might push myself to my very limits. Either way, sometime between now and November 28, I’ll have a baby. That’s pretty cool.
On Tuesday, I turned 34. I intended to do my annual birthday post as early as Monday, but it hasn’t worked out that way. So here I am, 34 and two days old, writing about where my life stands at this new age.
Since my birthday, I’ve taken new levels of ‘oldness’ in stride. Today I complained to a shop about their parking — telling them that obviously their sign about small cars only in the end space needs to be bigger. Yesterday I ordered off menu, asking for a combination of a menu item and one of the specials.
I’ve also accepted the flurry of grey hairs that have sprung up as my last dye job grows out. They seem to have come fast and thick since the start of the pregnancy, even gracing me with a few grey eyebrow hairs.
Of course, the pregnancy is the biggest change since my last birthday missive post. As of today, I’m 24 weeks pregnant. (Which means that Craphead is now viable; I’m tempted to start a sweepstakes about when he’ll actually arrive.) This has obviously changed my birthday celebrations somewhat. With a bit of wandering around, I become easily exhausted, so while there has some wandering, the amount of it has been greatly reduced.
The pregnancy has changed my outlook on things somewhat, too. The early worries about only having nine months to accomplish whatever it is I decided I needed to accomplish have long since faded. When I ended up hospitalised — twice — for horrible, all-consuming morning sickness, I gave in to the world. There was nothing I could do to stop what was happening, and knew I had to just go with it. If I can get through a week of work, or even not fall too far behind in a week of work, that’s a victory now.
While this has been a year of new starts, it has also been a year of deep sadness. Even writing that sentence has me welling up, so the paragraph I was planning on writing will go left untyped.
Anyway, 34. It’s an unglamorous age. There’s nothing new that starts at 34, but I’m doing enough new as it is. I don’t need any outside changes in circumstance at 34. By the time I reach 35, I’ll be a mother, a settled immigrant, and who knows what else. Only the coming year will tell.
As of writing this, I am 15 weeks and 4 days pregnant. While I’m looking forward to having the kid, so far pregnancy has been fairly miserable. I will write about that in more length another time, with a first-person account of the horrors of hyperemesis. (Although, re-reading this, most of this post is significantly influenced by hyperemesis, and inadvertently about experiencing pregnancy with hyperemesis. I still might write about it more directly later, though. It’s a beast that deserves its own real post.)
The physical misery of the pregnancy has put a bit of a damper on the whole joy of pregnancy. (See, already all about hyperemesis.) Looking at the various pregnancy forums, at 15 weeks I should be excitedly posting photos of my developing bump, guessing from the first scan whether it’s a boy or a girl, and generally cooing over every possible thing that can be shoved into a nursery.
I’m not, though. I’m focusing on how long until my next anti-emetic, whether I’ve eaten anything in the past hour, and how many bottles of water I’ve had in a given day. (More about hyperemesis.) I’m waiting for the excitement, and it still isn’t there. The idea that this flu-like feeling (hyperemesis) will eventually lead to an actual human that will fit in the baby clothes we’re starting to collect is something I understand in a logical way, but not entirely in an emotional way.
There are a few reasons for this, and I know that. I’m well-read in the comorbidity of mental health diagnoses and pregnancy, and I’ve become nearly as well-read in the comorbidity of hyperemesis (again), pregnancy, and mental health. Again, I understand it all in a logical way, but not entirely in an emotional way.
iI’m looking forward to having this child, but I’m also looking forward to this pregnancy being over with. (I can’t get away from hyperemesis and neither can this post.) November seems so far away, though.
I’m trying to get myself engaged in the pregnancy. I’m looking at clothes and furniture and whatnot, but we’re still a long ways off from buying much of it. (We’ll find out the gender in a month, so we’re waiting on some things, and trying to clear some space for everything else.) Other than a few novelty items of baby clothing, it’s all a bit abstract.
Maybe I’ll feel this abstraction until the kid shows up and is real. Maybe it’ll fade before then. Maybe I’m just really bad at pregnancy. Whatever the case, I’m riding it out. Roll on November! (And the definite end of hyperemesis.)
(See, it did end up being a lot about hyperemesis. But then, so has my pregnancy so far. So it kinda makes sense. I might try to write another post if I have a particularly good day and see how it turns out. If I have a particularly good day and have time to write a post. When they do come, however rarely, it’s usually my chance to try to catch up with normal life and work things.)
From where I’m writing this, I can look at around 95% of my cookbooks. As part of arranging things in the new house, they’ve been given their own bookcase, next to the really old looking reproduction drinks cabinet. They sit in the dining room, lording over the table from behind the clutter that has been deposited in front of them.
My obsession with buying and hoarding cookbooks was somewhat passed down to me. In fact, most of the books were my mom’s. (Though I have made a few important additions to the collection.)
All of this brings me to my failure cakes. In some perfect world, I’d never make a failure cake, or failure main course, or failure anything. It does somewhat go against my perfectionist nature.
However, what goes against my nature even more is faithfully following a recipe from any of the many cookbooks that I’m staring at right now. Instead I research, looking through one or many of them, then wing it.
I might have some basic ratios in mind as I attack an idea, but very rarely much beyond that. Sometimes I’ll have some scribbled notes, but that’s usually when there are multiple ratios to consider.
On Tuesday, my winging it attempt didn’t go exactly right, so I ended up with a failure cake. As with all failure dishes, though, I got to learn what happened if I did x with y ingredients. It’s a failure cake, but it’s also a way of experimenting with things.
This particular failure cake had a failure that I was ready for. After lovingly whisking my egg whites to stiff peaks, my flour — instead of sprinkling as it was meant to — plopped itself right there in the middle of it. I ended up with something sort of dumpling batter-ish, leaving me to add in a few other wet ingredients to get it passable for baking.
Tasting the failure cake (even when things go wrong, I think it’s important to taste, to see what worked and what didn’t, to get a feel for how something done intentionally in that way will hit somebody’s mouth), it ended up tasting like a weird variation of banana bread. I’ve made some mental notes and will have another attempt — at some point — at what I was going for.
In the meantime, it has been added the long list of failure cakes that have taught me something. I figure it’s all part of coming up with cool recipes. There are going to be failures.
Besides, following recipes out of books can be so boring. And anyone who talks about baking being a detail-oriented chemistry obviously forgets that the best part of any chemistry lesson is watching things explode every now and again.