Thursday, April 30, 2009

We received a lovely gift from friends the other day; a trio of Italian cheeses, some flatbread crackers and a Mustard Pear Jam. This is a great gift idea for new parents and I intend to copy them. But the point of this blog is the eating of it, not the receiving. 

Last night I was hungry, not interested in Natty's mac'n'cheese and Murray was working late so I didn't have to think about a real meal. Great time to break out the Pear Jam and Grana Padano cheese. Open goes the little jar, the jam spread on a flatbread and a thin slice of the Grana placed on top. 


It was disturbingly delicious. I ate and ate. Finished off the flatbread and resisted opening other crackers so I would stop (in my defense, the flatbread had already been opened, so I didn't eat an entire carton of it.... just about half). What a nice dinner. 

This afternoon I came home from a long morning, again hungry, and thought I'd reprise my dinner - was it really that good? 

Yes, and again Yes. 

As disturbing as how delicious the combination tastes is how much of it I can eat. But cheese, fruit and bread have been diet staples for thousands of years. Sustaining stuff. 

My other food focus is the perfect chocolate chip cookie, according to the NY Times. There is that spot in me, as in many of us, that only a chocolate chip cookie can fill. And, honestly, the perfect one is probably any one that I'm actually eating. When I was younger, my friend Janet made the best chocolate chip cookies ever. I was constantly trying and failing to achieve her perfection - mostly because I was much too creative. Janet's response to my wonder at her cookies was a laughing, "I just follow the recipe on the back of the bag." And the Toll House recipe is really, very good (when it's actually followed). But after reading about these cookies in the food blogs I follow (Orangette and Chez Pim)and then the article, I thought I'd give it a try. 

Yup, perfect cookies. 

I even cooked them in the toaster oven when our propane was out and they were great. So as to refrain from gorging myself, I shape them into cookies (but not the gargantuan size the recipe calls for - huge cookies repel rather than attract me. Don't get me started on a "portion size" rant) and freeze them. Then I can cook 3 for dessert and we won't make ourselves ill. That system was going great until Murray discovered my stash and polished them off. So there's another batch in the refrigerator as I type. I'll hide them better this time.

I won't subject you to pictures of the cookies - save that for the real food blogs. But they are good and I'm looking forward to eating one... tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Gimme heat!

I love being warm so the past weekend's heat wave was OK with me. It was like a surreal, warm vacation. I was working, which makes me feel disconnected from the world anyway; like being at sea, in my own little boat. Then the sunshine added a cruise flair to it - heat wilts Murray so there was much more lounging about the house than is usual for us.
I would come home in the morning and nap with Sam while Murray took Natty on an adventure (walking to Marmee and Papa's, swimming in the creek, etc). About 1, I'd stagger downstairs, water my garden and hang out in the sunshine. 
On Saturday we all fell asleep again at about 4 pm. I slept until the pizza delivery guy came - what total indulgence. (Natty was SO excited that she and Daddy had devised this great surprise for me she didn't want to let me come downstairs when I awoke. And when I came down anyway, she tried to restrict me to one room - no rhyme or reason to it, just in the spirit of The Surprise. Quirky little girl).
On Sunday Lucy Green (friend from Murray's youth who's also become mine - lucky me!)and her daughter Tazie serendipitously connected with us and we all went wading/swimming in our creek. I didn't have a camera for the actual swim, but here's the girls after the hose-off on the lawn. 

I mentioned my garden - well, here we are, planting some seeds! I call myself an "aspiring gardener." One problem with moving every 2 yrs is that it's difficult to put in and reap the benefits of a garden. Especially since we've lived in some challenging places to garden (a sailboat, Cordova - you get the picture). But things grow here like wildfire - I saw amazing gardens when we arrived last summer. I figure even though we're renting, I might as well do a garden for the practice. And it gives Natty and me a fun project to do together outside. 
Murray doesn't have quite the fondness for hot weather I do, and perhaps Sam is more like his dad than I. He spends the sunny days in the shade, covering up. He's gotten so big! He's rolling over and grabbing at things. He thinks that handsome baby in the mirror is the best thing since fresh milk. He's just a joy to hang out with.

Tuesdays are Murray's day off and this Tuesday it was over 90! That was hot, even for me. We tried to go on a walk I thought would be shady - and in the summer it will be - but it's too early for the foliage to be filled in yet. So we roasted. Natty, in the background, has taken off the bodice of her dress (she has a camisole underneath) because she was too hot. And finally as we were trying to cajole her along she just turned around and said, "You guys can keep walking. I'm too hot and I'm going home." and home she marched.

Home is good.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bare Feet

The flowers are popping out! The trees are budding! Natty can run around in bare feet!

Note: Bare feet in this picnic with the pansies. 
Last weekend was lovely; warm and mostly sunny. We walked to Carole and Murray's through the Audoubon land both days.

They are on a trip and we used their kitchen because our propane went out on Friday. (And I called the wrong number for the propane company all day. I figured out my mistake at 4:30 pm and then the correct number was busy. I finally got through to an answering machine at 5:30 pm - No stove for the weekend). Thankfully I had roasted 2 chickens the night before so didn't actually have to cook much. And it's amazing what one can do with a electric griddle and toaster oven. But I digress. The point was that we had some fun outdoor time. 

 Sam snuggles down happily in the Baby Bjorn for our walks.

Natty started out strong. She's a good walker, but we have to get in shape if she's going to keep up with her Alaska cousins! They're amazing.

This is the final field heading up to the Buttners and we had pity on our wilting rose. It's overcast in this picture, but was warm enough that she was comfortable in her little sun dress.
This is the flowering tree in the secret garden. I can't capture the gorgeous perfume, but it is Spring!
Since then we've had a few chilly, rainy days. But every day there are more flowers - tiny violets carpeting the grass, violently yellow forsythia bushes. Gorgeous pink trees, white trees, hyacinths, acres of daffodils and the early tulip or 2. Natty is in heaven and I'm pretty close. 

Friday, April 17, 2009

Odds and ends

Life is settling down. I'm not frantically busy - as you can tell by the fiddling that's gone on with the blog layout. When you have time to mess around with that, you've got time.
Here's some fun things from the last week...

The Saturday before Easter we had the aforementioned "Eggstravaganza" at church then drove to Woodbury to hang out with Jon and Abbie. We always love spending time with them - besides being great company, there are many shared passions; Abbie and I share a love of cheese, Jon, Murray and I share a love of single malt scotch (in fact, I think Jon and I can share the blame for turning Murray on to whiskey. Now we're going to work on Abbie) and Jon and Murray share a love of early spring swims. Truthfully, Murray has the passion for the frigid swims but Jon is cool and went along with him. Jon and Abbie have an awesome swimming hole so the afternoon included a walk through the woods to the swimming hole and a dip by the guys. Abbie, I and the kiddos just watched in mingled awe and horror. There was the lure of a crackling fire and delicious dinner back at the house and then home again.

And the week has flown by. Sam Slishman, a friend of Murray's from NM days stopped by for the night - a lot of fun. He's been doing some impressive stuff in Albuquerque - check out Endorphin Power Company

Oh, and Murray and I missed our anniversary again! It's tradition. Even when we do remember it, we remember it wrong. We both thought it was the 14th. But the morning of, I checked the towels my Aunt Kathy made with the date embroidered on them and it was actually the 12th. Sheesh. It's been 6 years, you'd think we could remember. Thankfully, we forget together so there's no hurt feelings, just laughter.

Yesterday I dropped Natty off at school and ran errands in Putnam. But it was one of those days when half the places I needed to stop weren't open so I had empty time. Do I drive 20 min to do more errands or get a coffee at Victoria's Station until it's time to pick Natty up? It wasn't even a choice. An excellent coffee and a chocolate croissant - by myself, in silence - is a form of heaven for me. I had Sam in the Baby Bjorn but a) he didn't wake up and b) I didn't spill anything on him so that was a resounding success. I don't need or want to do solo coffee every day, but as an unexpected, occasional treat, it satisfies some deep craving in my introverted self. One of the things I find tiring about motherhood is that I'm rarely alone. Even though Natty is great company, it's still company. But I'll be alone enough when they're grown, so I'll snatch a minute or 2 now, call it good and enjoy our constant chatting while she enjoys it too.

Actual Easter pictures

Happy Easter from our Easter Bunny!

We had an Easter Egg hunt on Sat at our church

There was also a craft time that involved silk flowers - Natty was enthralled and collected some for Sam. He's very appreciative.

Here's her princess hat. I remember making these as a little girl. Judging by the "Beautiful Princess" look on her face, I have a feeling we'll be making more of them. 

Here's my goofy kids, hanging out. Sam is wearing a sweater Beth knitted for Alex and handed down to him - lucky Sam!

Monday, April 13, 2009

White Easter

We had a great Easter. After church, we went over to Carole and Murray's to meet up with everyone and some of us went to see the 2 baby pygmy goats that will be arriving when they're old enough - very cute! 
We all had a very nice dinner together at The Woodstock Inn. Unfortunately, there was a pre-dinner panic because Pumpkin, one of the daschounds, went missing (in the house? or possibly outside? That was the issue). A segment of the party stayed with Marmee and Papa to search and Phoebe saved the day by finding her in the attic. Dinner then progressed with the giddy joy that near disaster brings. Sam was an angel, to my great relief. He slept through the whole thing.  
No, we didn't have a post-Easter snow storm. I'm trotting out the photos we took back during winter, when it was OK to have snow.

This was Nattie's last ski of the year, Sam's first ever. We were at Carole and Murray's to enjoy the light a bit longer, their house being on a hill and ours in a valley. It was a beautiful sunset but the wind was bone-chilling. We didn't stay out much longer.

This is one of her first ski adventures - she's getting very solid on skis and enjoys it.

Note the dress over the snowpants. 

These next 3 pictures were taken when the Buttner clan came to meet Sam. He made it outside that day, nestled under my coat. But we didn't stay out long - he was only 2 days old!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Food blog

I had a day that was so filled with nice things it was almost decadent. First, I woke up without the headache/aching joints/fever that had put me to bed at 7 pm the night before. I made poached eggs on toast for all of us, which is one of our favorite breakfasts. (Murray introduced me to it and, like many things he's introduced me to, it's a winner.)

 Then the kids and I had a lovely walk with a friend from work and Natty got to play at a playground. (As soon as I learn how to import pictures from Snapfish I'll import some of the pictures she took.) 

I had a hair appointment next and there was a bit of a panic when I realized that Natty's school/daycare was closed for Good Friday, but Murray offered to take Natty while I got my hair and brows done. Carole had Sam so I had an hour+ without anyone else! 

When I got everyone collected and we got home I put Natty in front of a movie (a ploy which later backfired on me as she gets grumpy after too many movies and this was (gulp!) her second one that day (the first being Nemo at Murray's office - but she only watched half of it - does that make it any better?)) while I decorated cupcakes. And ignored my children until Murray came home to a wreck of a house, grumpy kids and a Nigella-esque wife (beautiful from the salon visit, covered in green frosting and chocolate - what's not to love?!?). I don't know if he saw it quite the same way. 

Here's a picture of Sam's first ride in his Johnny Jump Up from Ama. He's really too young yet but will grow into it fast. 

And here are the cupcakes. 
I'll admit it - I read food blogs. (you can tell by the photos - I've got the tight focus thing down) Specifically, I read one (Chez Pim) when I have time. She is a real Foodie so I live vicariously through her. Me, who served leftover lamb stew for dinner the last 2 nights, made from a lamb roast cooked the day previous to the first lamb stew night. I am very lucky Murray doesn't mind leftovers. (don't get me wrong - it was good lamb stew! No shame there). 

However, my food tendencies these days are towards culinary humor. Although, since my sense of humor is odd I'm sure my culinary humor is as well. Anyway, I made these cupcakes for our church's Eggstravaganza tomorrow. I realize that this is what mothers do, and I will be making many more batches of cupcakes/cookies/bake sale items, but it's still new and entertaining for me. I thought they were funny - as funny as Natalie's birthday cake and along similar lines. They're just a simple white cake recipe (with flower sprinkles in them - since they are for kids) with a quickie buttercream frosting. The roses I bought at a cake store - love that Pink! And the birds nests are melted bittersweet chocolate with coconut filled with Cadbury's dark chocolate eggs. The nests are reminiscent of similar nests I made last Easter, including a big one for the crazy chocolate chicken! Very good memories of Easter with Ama, Grandpa Greg, Christi Sobel and her mom in our little house in London. 

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Here's some long awaited photos - Starting with the stars:

Natty still loves Sam passionately and he loves her back - he smiles the most (and cries the most) for her squeaky voice and little face shoved right into his.

We LOVED having Aunty Lelia visit.

He's a smiley little kid! 

Dinner with the Boston Buttners - Soo Jin is Natalie's hero

And an update on the real estate search - we got into a offer/counteroffer flurry this week and ultimately did not want to pay what the owners wanted for the house. We're both fine with it. On to the next one!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Babies and boats

Since making my decision to forego school, I've been at peace. And I seem to be getting more accomplished - or at least I feel like it since I don't have a huge spectre of schoolwork hanging over me.

This morning I survived the usual chaos of getting Natalie and Murray out the door while jiggling Sam, who was being a fuss. Then I stood at the window watching them drive away and Sam fell asleep in my arms - heavenly. His little hands, which are just learning to clutch me, were clinging to my shirt and his soft head was resting on my chest. In moments like that I don't care that I'm unbathed and still wearing my prego yoga pants: it's just Good.

I've since successfully laid him down (that means he stayed asleep), cleaned the kitchen and sat down at the computer with a second cup of coffee (decaf). I'm also folding laundry while I wait for pages to load. That's as multitasking as I get. Natty and I are going to a neighbor's for tea after school and then she has ballet class. She's the smallest one in class - can you imagine me, "Skyscraper," having a petite child? But I remember when Sue Kindred and I were the same size. Then I shot up and didn't stop growing for a long time. So maybe she will too. Sam is growing so fast you can almost see it. He got his 2 month shots yesterday - yikes, they give a lot at a time! Next time I'll find out how many and ask, as Teal recommended, that we space them out a bit. Such a little body to deal with all that stuff. He's getting Tylenol around the clock and seems to be fine.

We're still interested in the 1704 house. Murray warned me that, if we buy it, before we close he wants me to sign a contract that I will not whine about the cold. Whine about cold?
We're doing all kinds of research, including talking to others who live in old houses and a wonderful woman said to me yesterday, "Living in an old house is for people who value atmosphere over comfort." What a great way to put it. Now, are we those people? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Murray describes it as the wooden boat of houses - romantic and beautiful but a lot of work. At least it's not the concrete boat of houses - what would that be? Ugly, but functional?

I know I'm missing photos on the blog - Murray keeps the Mac at work now and it has all our photos. So we'll get it home and I'll load some on soon.