Archive for the ‘Living the Good Life’ Category

Cinnamon Swirl French Toast Makes for a Great Brunch. Bloody Marys Don’t Hurt Either.

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

Mom’s Day 2008 was simple, delicious, and all-around lovely.

We hosted a Mother’s Brunch (attendees: my parents and Neil’s granny) chock full of cinnamon swirl french toast, asparagus frittata, bacon, fruit salad, bloody marys, and strong, strong coffee. We all ate a lot, talked a lot, and just enjoyed the sunny Sunday morning.

Dash wandered off after brunch and played by himself for a while (something he doesn’t do for more than, say, 10 minutes usually). I sat back and listened to him talking to himself and to his toys and was reminded of how much I adore him and how lucky I am to have him in my life.

When he was done playing, he helped Neil and my dad assemble an Ikea shelf that has been sitting around since our big trip there a month or so ago. Showing some true skill, he put one dowel after another in the holes. Kind of amazing to see.

While the men put the shelves up, we ladies and Dash took a walk down the street. Walks with Granny are done at a slower pace, and I figured it would be a short one. There are bad knees and general old age to contend with after all. And maybe it was the french toast, who can say, but she decided to make it all the way down our street and up the big hill. Probably just under a mile in total. I was so proud of her for pushing past what would have been her normal stopping point, and so pleased to be holding her hand the whole way. My maternal and paternal grands all passed away years ago, so to have a grandmother in my life again has been such a blessing. I love to hear her stories of momhood (when she had her babies, a nurse from the hospital came home with her for a week to help out, imagine that!) and tales from years ago (summer vacations with friends in the Poconos, ironing every single piece of clothing every single time it came out of the wash for years and years and years… hmm, that must be why she suggested I iron my cloth napkins for the next breakfast she comes over for).
Anyway, it was a lovely multi-generational walk with Granny, my mom, me, and Dash. So many mothers in one place, it felt powerful.

Oh, and gifts! I’ll add some photos of these soon, but for now just the descriptions. Neil had a great photo of him and Dash taken and printed out for me. It’s wonderful and makes me tear up. Must be framed. And… he bought me cable tv. I hear most of America has had this “cable” for decades now, but we’ve been getting by on rabbit ears and a whole lot of patience. Good god, I can’t believe we’ve lasted this long. The cable lady came this afternoon and we’re now the proud owners of some 30-odd stations (odd might be a key word, actually) of sports, shopping, and a few miscellaneous channels from the next package up that snuck their way in. Spike network anyone?
I was luxuriating out on the porch with a book while she hooked us up and when I came in to see the results, our rabbit ears were mysteriously nowhere to be found. Do you suppose she confiscated them? She was probably mortified to see them and thought she might do us a favor and just have them put down for us. Thank you cable lady.

My third and most creative gift was from my mom. She’s gotten into making altered books lately though I didn’t expect to ever receive one. Well, she made a lovely themed book (theme= me) with page after page of things that I like to do or read or eat, and one final page about being a mom with a photo of Dash as a baby-baby. Thanks Mom. I love it.

Hope you all had a nice Mother’s Day too.

Spring Gardening

Friday, May 2nd, 2008

I am so excited that it’s finally the weekend. The sun is shining (still a bit cool, though I’m willing to overlook that), the birds are tweeting, and the daffodils are in full bloom. Neil is working regular hours again and we were just invited to Granny’s on Sunday for boiled dinner. Sounds good so far, huh?

So what are you all doing this weekend? For me (us) it’s early-morning Pilates (while Dash and Daddy have quality coffee shop time or maybe a walk about town) followed by an afternoon at Camp Ketcha in Scarborough. It’s their annual May Day Family Festival featuring pony rides (!), face painting, pizza eating, and music for the whole family lovingly played by my dear husband.

Come on out if you’re going to be in the area. It promises to be sunny and slightly warm (it’s maine in spring, what do you expect?) and there will be ponies! Ponies, people!

Sunday, what I’d really like to do is get started with our garden. We put in some lasagna beds about three weeks ago and while we wait for them to settle and prepare for planting, it’s time to get a head start on the seedlings. Tomatoes, peppers, artichokes, sunflowers, lettuce, blueberries, basil…. I can’t remember the entire list but it’s FULL. Maybe even too full for the space we have to work with!

With that list, it’s off to our local gardening center and maybe a call to Johnny’s to get things started.

Now to figure out how to keep three cats and a curious child away from the rows of growing seedlings…

Aside from putting them at table height (which will keep Dash away but not the cats), any other suggestions? I have some plant-loving kitties here.

Filed Under: Things You Never Needed to Know About Me

Monday, January 7th, 2008

I am a coin collector, of sorts.

No, not the kind who has binders of neatly categorized coins from all over the world and all through time, but rather the kind who sees a dime on the ground, and everything stops until I get that coin in my possession.
And any coins that I find around the house (wallet, washing maching, etc.) are immediately pooled together with a satisfying clink that only money on money makes.

When I was little, I had one of those tootsie roll banks that I saved my money in. I didn’t save much (if you ask my mom) but I did manage to build a tiny nest egg with my allowance. And on Saturdays, when the allowance payment came through, I (displaying my virgoan tendencies) would dump all the change out, line them up like little soldiers, and one-by-one, count them all up again.

And all this from someone who can’t do math to save her life.

I haven’t done the counting part in a long time (and you’ll be pleased to know that I no longer line the coins up before counting them) and what with the new year and all, I decided it’s time. A new tradition is born! I will start each new year with a wealth of spare change!

So I spent some time on Saturday, painstakingly counting out change by two’s. By the way, it’s hard to stop counting in two’s once you do it for an hour or so.

I expected about $50 and would have been happy with $20.

piles upon piles of quarters

I counted over $100 and nearly pooped my pants.

Not really. It’s just a figure of speach.

So exciting! And convenient, since someone I know has a birthday coming up.

Dash in Argyle

Restored and Refreshed.

Monday, November 12th, 2007

That’s how I’m feeling right now. Date night is good for the soul, I tell ya. We had a really good meal, good wine, ran into all kinds of old friends, and totally managed to avoid talking about Dash. I think the only time he came up was when other people asked about him. (Don’t worry little guy, it’s not like we forgot about you. Just having some much needed adult time/conversation.)

And it’s this good feeling that I’ve been holding on to and has kept me from getting totally pissed off at the 47 neighbors who have been out with leaf blowers all weekend long. Seriously people. How lazy are you? Unless you’re very old or physically cannot rake you do not need a leaf blower.* You need a rake. That’s all.

*unless of course you, my lovely readers, have a leaf blower. in that case, i applaud your efficiency.

Fall Meal Planning

Friday, October 12th, 2007

Squash in a Bowl

Just one more week of our CSA veggies to go but I already have a pantry full of tomatoes, parsnips, carrots, beets, onion, garlic, and squash. It’s hard to keep up, I tell ya. We share a share, and still the sheer amount of veggies is a bit overwelming, especially with a baby on hand. He doesn’t seem to care that I’m charged with feeding the family in addition to playing with him. Pounds of tomatoes to deal with? Hello, I want to play peek-a-boo again.

Maybe it’s that I’m a sucker for peek-a-boo, but I’ve let a few weeks of veggies pile up and am feeling the pressure to use it or lose it. That’s right. I’m gettin’ all tough on the veggies now. I’m bad.

So the plan? This weekend I’ll be making a double batch of chicken soup (carrots, onions, parsnips) to freeze for colder days, and then salsa (tomatoes, onions, garlic) to be canned and put in the basement, and then ultimately I might just blanch and freeze whatever is leftover that we won’t be able to eat in time. That’s right, parsnips. I’m talking to you. And of course, whatever can be pureed for Dash will be pureed for Dash. I wonder if he’ll be sick of squash by December.

While we’re talking about food, let’s talk dinner. It’s only 11:36 and I’ve already planned what we’re having. You have to, you know. If I don’t, we end up with take out and that’s not always budget friendly. It’s tasty, but not budget friendly.

Tonight’s dinner will come from the October edition of Everyday Food. I made this a couple of weeks ago and we both loved it so why not make it again? Tonya “pick a recipe and run it into the ground” Sattin strikes again. But seriously, this is delicious and I recommend you try it. Here is the recipe with our edits:

Moroccan Chicken Stew with Sweet Potatoes

1/4 cup all-purpose organic flour
4-6 organic boneless, skinless chicken thighs
coarse salt and ground pepper
2 T organic olive oil
1 medium organic onion, diced
1 piece, 2 inches, fresh ginger, peeled
1 cinnamon stick
1 carton or more organic chicken broth [or homemade if you have it]
2 medium sweet potatoes or yams peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
[or substitute with a can of chick peas or half s. potatoes/half chick peas]
2 T fresh lemon juice
1 cup organic couscous [or organic brown rice]

Place flour in a shallow bowl. Season chicken with s & p; dredge in flour, shaking off excess. In a heavy pot or dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high. Add chicken, and cook until browned, 4 to 6 minutes per side; transfer to a plate.

If using rice in place of couscous, make it now.

Add onion, ginger, and cinnamon to pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion starts to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Return chicken to pot. Add broth and sweet potatoes (or chick peas). Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer until chicken is cooked through and sweet potatoes are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Discard ginger and cinnamon, stir in lemon juice, and season stew with salt and pepper.

While stew is simmering, prepare couscous. Serve stew over couscous and enjoy, preferably on a cool, windy, even rainy, day.