I have been deep in the throes of a baking extravaganza lately, by which I mean for, oh, a few months or so. It's partly that I finally discovered what Grace will eat when packed up in her little lunchbox for Mothers' Day Out-- Sandwiches? No, not even when cut out with cookie cutters and the like. Vinaigrette-type pasta salads? No. But muffins and quick breads and the like get a "yes" most days so I've been keeping up a steady supply of the things. And partly the baking has been a capitulation to pregnancy cravings, although I have exerted much, much more self-control than with my first pregnancy. When pregnant with Grace, my weight gain each month was just slightly on the high side except for one particular month (5th or 6th, I think?) when I gained nearly 20 pounds. It now lives in infamy at our house as "cake month" for what I hope are obvious reasons. I baked a LOT. And then ate it all. My cravings do skew to the sweet and baked-- things with that lovely moist cake-y texture and a delicate crumb, things from actual cake to brownies to scones to quick breads to muffins and the like. Candy and ice cream just do not hold the same place in my heart, and although I have a very great appreciation for chocolate in its purer forms, I am somehow able to indulge in that in a sensible, reasonable manner that I wouldn't really call a craving.
I think another reason I have been baking so much is that it is a borderline frivolous domestic pursuit that I know I won't have much time and energy for after the new baby arrives. I literally did not cook a thing for 4 weeks after Grace was born; we lived on take-out and frozen foods and the kindness of friends that arrived at our house in the form of foil casserole dishes. I know if Rob and I were not quite capable of cooking real meals from actual ingredients to sate our dinnertime hunger, then puttering about the kitchen with butter and sugar for an inessential thing such as cake is not going to be within my reach for a while. So for now I shuffle around the kitchen with the mixer and the flour and the cocoa powder, turning out little bits of gastronomic frippery.
Another domestic pursuit I've been indulging in a lot lately is sewing. I've been terrible about photographing my projects and reviewing them this fall, so I don't have a lot of documentation of my activities, but most evenings after Grace goes to bed now find me listening to the addictive whir of the sewing machine as I work on another project. For a while, it was a handful of maternity skirts (which are now about the only presentable clothes that still fit) and then when the weather finally turned colder, I started in on winter pants for Grace. She is pretty slim for her height and RTW pants are such a challenge that it's easier (not to mention cheaper and more fun) to just make them. I've decided that hot pink corduroy pants are the toddler wardrobe equivalent of nice black pants for adult women. So necessary! They go with practically everything!
My quiet enjoyment of domestic life (before the onslaught of intensity and sleep deprivation that is a new baby) has not really extended to the wild, hormonally-fueled cleaning of pregnancy legend, I am sad to say. It's a shame because I would so love to have a really spotless, deeply clean house; I can't seem to gather the energy for anything beyond the normal level of cleanliness we live in, however. Which is fairly clean, I must say-- I just wish it were CLEANER. My nesting instinct madness has been limited to organizing and decluttering and whatnot, instead of actual cleaning; even under normal circumstances, I have a higher tolerance for a bit of dust and dog hair than clutter and things living out of their proper homes. Unfortunately for me (and all who live with me), my tolerance for mess is inversely proportional with the level of stress in my life. This is quite inconvenient because the times of the most intense stress (new baby, finishing one's dissertation, etc) are also the times when one has the least time and energy for keeping one's environment in good shape, beginning a VICIOUS CYCLE where your home makes you even more stressed than you were to start with. I remember after Grace was born, Rob being so wonderful about keeping things shipshape and attending to details he normally could not give a flying fig about; look, I even blogged about it. He is so gracious to me.
And on that note, I shall wrap up and go make a batch of blueberry muffins.