There Are Perks to Being a Blogger.

April 27, 2009

Over these past 10 or 11 months of blogging, some very cool things have happened to me. Not least of which is meeting really cool people, including someone from Rome (who we hope to meet in person this summer), a bunch of like-minded moms, people who make me laugh out loud at my computer screen, plus many more. I've reconnected with people I had lost touch with (including some high school peeps). But I think the coolest thing that has come about since I decided to "blog" on a whim (that late night back in May when the rest of my family was sleeping soundly) was meeting this sweet girl, Abby:
Here's the story: I wrote a post about a farm dinner we went to back in September. A couple of months later I got an email from a girl in Georgia telling me her sister had read that post and decided to try to get an apprenticeship at this same farm. The sister, Abby, got the job and promptly moved out here. I met her a couple of weeks later at the farmer's market. She is sweet as pie, and I'm so flattered I had anything to do with her coming here in the first place!

We had her over to the house the other night and it's a toss up as to who liked her most: Bryan (who was was totally won over by her knowledge of gardening, raising chickens and keeping bees....and who invited her to come be an apprentice at Green Acres!), C-Man who led her around the yard like his personal pet, JuJu who was reaching out for Abby to hold her by the end of the evening (and called her "mama"!!??!), or me who found her to be totally girlfriend material within the first 3 seconds.

I may have been slightly swayed by the gift basket she brought (pictured at the top of this post), with all sorts of goodies from the farm and from other vendors at the farmer's market. JuJu was especially curious about the edible flowers in the basket.....
Taking a little nibble of one of the petals......
And, not liking it so much! :)

C-Man and JuJu's New Cousin!

Meet the most loving-est, sweetest, prettiest baby boy you ever did see. Even if he still doesn't have a name. :)

(Born April 25, 2009 at 3:20 p.m. 6 lbs, 8 oz. Everyone is healthy and happy.)

Sister Love.

April 24, 2009

I have two sisters with exciting stuff going on right now. One is about to have her first baby. Like any day, any minute, every time my phone rings, I think it might be "the call."

But the littlest sister has some of her own exciting news: she is writing for a music blog! Almost as exciting as your first baby, no? Anyway, check it out: The Tree Factory (that's their header up there). I plan on dropping by regularly to get my fill of new music. She and her friends have always been good for that.

Need Your Travel Tips.

April 22, 2009

There's something about getting pregnant that puts me in full vacation planning mode. It's sort of a time-is-running-out feeling, but in a good way. We have a few trips up our sleeves that I'm getting excited about (more on that later), not least of which is a get-away for just B and me. Yes. You read that correctly. We are going away. Without the kids.

There were lots of choices to consider, even though we are just going to be gone for a few nights. There could be a luxurious, do nothing, beach vacation. There could be a long-awaited trip to Portland which keeps getting pushed back. We love Austin, so there's always that. But we kept coming back to New Orleans. We both adore the place, but have never been crazy is that?? Plus, it's just not a family vacation kind of place (at least for the things we want to do).

And so. I've been planning our trip. We want to stay in the French Quarter (cliché, but easy and close to things) and we want a boutique-y place that would never take us if we walked in with two whiny kids. (Make that three.) Anyway, this is where you come in. Has anyone stayed at the Hotel Maison de Ville or The Soniat House? These have both come highly recommended. Anywhere else you like?

Now, bring mama some beignets.

photo of the soniat house entrance via flickr

Just In Case You Are in the Market for the World's Cutest Kids' Swimsuits.

April 21, 2009

Check these out (all from flora and henri):This is the suit I got JuJu for the summer. It looks so darn cute hugging her little buns, if I might add.

(I can't find this in stock anymore, otherwise I would give you a link. It's Petit Bateau.)

Meal Planning Monday....on Tuesday.

bittman's chilled cucumber soup topped with croutons (we made this 2 nights in a row!)
big ol' batch of tomato and avocado salsa
blue corn tortilla chips

slow cooker bbq'd brisket
corn on the cob
B's favorite avocado and grapefruit salad

tortilla soup with all the fixings (assuming the weather cools down, as promised)

"The Days Are Long, But the Years Are Short."

April 20, 2009

That's the D.R. quote of the day. I found it on a really neat list of Ten Ways to Be a More Light-Hearted Parent which Leigh twittered about this morning. The list is definitely worth checking out, but it's that quote at the end that really stuck with me.

Moms, how true? The days at home with little ones can sometimes feel endless, yet this time feels like it is slipping through my fingertips. For instance, this was my baby just yesterday, er, more than a year ago.And here she is just the other day. "Mom, can you please get that thing out of my face?"Which brings me to the real reason for this post. (You didn't think there was one, did you??) I thought Baby J was going to be my baby. I can't imagine her not being my baby. Alas, there is another baby, and so I thought a name change for her is in order. For the past few months we've been calling Baby J "JuJu." B said it one day and bam. It stuck. The way nicknames sometimes do. So, from here on out, she is no longer Baby J, but "JuJu" (sniff, sniff). You can still call her Baby J if you'd like. I won't mind one bit.

An Unlikely Moms' Group.

I'm don't know about you, but when my life changed from working person to mom at home, I was equally intrigued and scared of the idea of moms' groups. I met up with a few different versions...some involving exercise, kids' activities, attachment parenting, and others. They never quite felt like the thing I wanted to make an effort to stay with. I had plenty to occupy my time, plus I had friends that I wanted to see if I had a free morning, you know? But then, walking through my old neighborhood one day when C-Man was just a few months old, I literally ran into a couple of other moms who had boys who were C-Man's age that were starting a, you guessed it, neighborhood moms' group. I knew right away that this group was different. I wanted to hang out with each mom individually, everyone got along, there weren't any other words it was a total aberration in the world of moms' groups (or women's groups in general)! And this is a group of 20+ women.

And here we are 3 or more years later. Some have had second and even third kids, some have moved, most of the boys are now in pre-school, there are lots of new moms (and some dads) who have joined. But we still love to get together. And the coolest thing is that now we have more get-togethers that just involve the moms. These are my favorite. Like the one we had the other night at Shanna's new wine bar in North Park, Mosaic. Shanna (one of the moms if I wasn't clear) and her husband Maz have been working on the place for quite awhile, so I was really excited to check it out. The place looks AMAZING. Great space for a private party, too. Plus, the wine list is interesting and extensive (not that I was able to imbibe or anything). Oh, and they have yummy pizzas and other food (made from scratch). So, yes, this is turning into a plug for Mosaic too!

Anyway, here is a photo Cinthia took of some of us gals. Can't wait for the next Moms' Night Out, ladies!

Last Minute Brunch.

April 15, 2009

We had dear friends (and their three kids) staying with us this weekend. I had a dilemma that I have often now that I am "with children"....wanting to be a great hostess, but being realistic about what I can do without turning into a total and complete biyatch. Know what I mean? So I was a bit pleased that I was able to pull together a breakfast/brunch for nine people (plus one bun in the oven) on a morning that we all had to be out of the house no later than 9 a.m. It wasn't fancy, but it did include excellent cappucinos prepared by B, chile relleno casserole, sausages, bacon, toasted Finninsh Sweet Cardamom Raisin Bread, and a strawberry, kiwi and mango compote. All before 9 a.m. -- did I mention that? Plus there was all of the other morning duties that are normally involved: dishes, nursing, diapers changed, dressing unwilling children, trying to *beautify* myself, etc. All before 9 a.m.

The key, I believe, to a tasty and quick brunch for a crowd is some sort of cheesy casserole. I've been making this recipe of my mom's for years and it never fails to disappoint. Plus, all of the ingredients just might be lurking in your pantry.

Chile Relleno Casserole
1 can green chiles, cut lengthwise into strips
1 lb. jack cheese, cut into slices 1/2 in. thick and 1 in. wide (any mild cheese is fine, I used a colby/jack combo this time)
2 eggs
2/3 c. flour
1 1/2 c. milk
1 t. salt
Arrange chiles in a 9x13 in. glass baking dish. Arrange cheese strips on top. Whisk together remaining ingredients and pour over the top. Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 mins. or until top is golden and puffy. It's best right out of the oven, but room temperature is fine too. This adds to the low maintenance factor. :-)

Daddy's Girl in the House.

We have a big case of daddy's girl going on around here. I am new to this sort of thing....I love my dad very much, but I was never one of these "daddy's girls." Baby J though? Noone makes her happier, it seems. See how she rests her hand on his chest? And she gave me a full animal snarl when I went to try to pick her up myself, which had the sound of "Get away, lady, I'm spending time here with my daddy!"

Hi There.

April 13, 2009

I've had a totally crappy day. My sweet cousin (in-law, but who's keeping track?) brightened my eve by posting this awesome 80's cover by one of my current music lustings.....Bon Iver. Check it out!

p.s. someone -- please -- help me stop hitting replay!!

Baking the Bread.

April 11, 2009

I'm not really sure what has gotten into me, but I baked bread the other day. Finnish Sweet Cardamom Raisin Bread, to be more precise. Now don't go getting the wrong idea. I do not, repeat DO NOT, normally bake bread for the family. takes the whole day. And this recipe was not exactly easy. There were multiple proofings (is that a word?) and kneading, of course, but there was also dividing of the dough and braiding, yes braiding, and finally an egg wash applied to the pretty puffy tops of the loaves right before they were baked. My oh my, that bread was tasty straight from the oven slathered with salted butter.

Here are the loaves after they came out:
Do you bake bread? Any good recipes to share?


April 10, 2009

[Baby J is getting very bold about our off-limits very treacherous staircase. I have to remind her of this several times a day now.]

Me: Baby J, no stairs. NO STAIRS. Absolutely NO STAIRS!

Baby J: [pouty face]

Me: I'm not kidding. NO STAIRS.

C-Man: Yeah, she's not kidding. Because she's not a kid. She's a BOSS.

I'm glad some things are sinking in with him!

Tortilla Soup, Bastardized.

April 9, 2009

First off, thank you soooooooo much for all the well wishes regarding the baby. We are excited.

Second, I have a tortilla soup recipe to share with you that is slightly bastardized. Twice over, really. I know there is some authentic recipe (probably recipes) out there for tortilla soup which involve roasted chiles and other delicious ingredients. (Such as this one, which I've been meaning to try for years now.) This recipe has none of that, which makes it great for a weeknight and I believe it still tastes fantastic. It is also bastardized in that it is based on my friend Sarah's recipe/method, but she and I could never connect the day I was making the soup to exchange official directions. So I was on my own. And it was a big, big hit in the fam, so I decided I had to post.

The beauty of this soup is that it has all the comfort of a soup, but with some substance (which comes in the form of all the yummy add-ins). Also, it is so quick and easy to put together.

Tortilla Soup
olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1-2 zucchini, halved and sliced
1 bell pepper, chopped
2-3 tomatoes, chopped
1 t. cumin
1-2 T. chile powder
6 c. (or so) chicken stock (preferably homemade)

tortilla chips
chopped avocado
chopped cilantro
grated cheddar cheese
sliced radishes
sour cream
chopped jalapenos

In a soup pot, sauté onion, zucchini and pepper in olive oil over medium heat until soft. Add tomatoes and cook until tomatoes start to break down. Add cumin and chile powder and cook until fragrant (a minute or so). Add stock and simmer for 15 or 20 minutes so the flavors can meld (just enough time, conviently to get all the add-ins in order).

Ladle the soup into bowls and top with any and all of the add-ins. Be sure to squeeze in lots of lime!

photo courtesy myrecipes

To B.

April 8, 2009

Today is B's birthday. I have been trying to think of something to write that would help those of you who don't know him in real life understand who he is and what makes him tick. But it's really, really hard and I haven't had that much coffee this morning. So, I decided to do something different. I am going to list some music that, for me, will forever remind me of B. I guess this list of music in some ways says more about me (it's not necessarily a list of his favorite music, but again, what reminds me of him....especially when I was first getting to know him so many years ago now). So, here goes.

Simple Things, Zero 7
Yankee Foxtrot Hotel, Wilco
musicforthemorningafter, Pete Yorn
All the stuff that Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds played together
Anything and everything by Jeff Buckley
Getz/Gilberto, Stan Getz
Napule E', Pino Daniele

I know there's lots more I will think of later, but this is what first comes to mind. :)

Happy, happy birthday, my love.

Oh, and There's Something I've Been Meaning to Tell You.

April 7, 2009

Yup. Thirteen weeks. Are you surprised? Because it surprised the bejeezus out of us! We are very grateful and excited. xoxo

p.s. that's a close-up profile shot for those of you who are ultrasound reading challenged (like I am).

The ONLY Way to Travel.

(If you have kids, that is.)

Having just returned from Napa with B's family, I can confidently say the ONLY way to travel is with other family members. As many of them as possible. The kids are happy and distracted and the family is clamoring to help out. Things like this were actually heard on this trip: "[C-Man] can I please give you a bath and put you to bed tonight since Nana gets to do it tomorrow?" "Go, go, go to dinner. The kids will be fine." And when we returned they would be sleeping soundly...all night long. True story.

Needless to say, we had a simply glorious time with glorious weather and tons of great experiences. We ate at no fewer than the following: Bistro Don Giovanni (a sentimental favorite), Bouchon, Tra Vigne, Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen, Taylor's Automatic Refresher, and a private lunch in an olive mill (hopefully more on that later). (Baby J and C-Man playing at the fountain at Bistro Don Giovanni....the perfect diversion after lunch!)


April 2, 2009

We are off to Napa with B's family for a few days. We plan on relaxing, visiting, eating, wine tasting, and hopefully (god willing) sleeping. I'll be back in a couple. Have a great weekend!

photo courtesy solage calistoga

Shameless Photo Sharing.

I have almost nothing to say about this photo except that I find it so darn cute, I want to start kissing the little 2 inch by 2 inch with really wet loud slurpy ones (yuck, that was gross). Anyway, I took Baby J for our second go-around at a passport photo (the first was totally unproductive). This time, she still wiggled and protested and whined and wouldn't look at the camera for about 15 long minutes, but thankfully we had a very patient photographer and we got this one right at the end. B says she looks like a little Polish émigré. Whatever. I just find it mom-achingly cute.
p.s. And yes, I am so lame (and our scanner is that much lamer) that I actually took a picture of a picture!

Make It Easy On Yourself....Dress Your Kids In Tea.

April 1, 2009

I really love dressing our kids in clothes by Tea Collection for two reasons: the style, of course, but also because it is very easy. Everything from a season will coordinate with each other...even different patterns. So, if you are a bit hesitant (like I was) to dress your little girl in a patterned dress with a different patterned pair of leggings, have no fear. The people at Tea have made sure it will look right. It's true the clothes aren't as cheap as, say, Old Navy, but Tea has really awesome sales (even before the season is over) and the quality can't be beat. After washing and drying and playing and spilling and scraping and twisting and pulling, these clothes will still look cute enough for a get-together with your in-laws. Promise.

Now the fun part. Each season Tea comes up with a couple of themes. Right now, they have Viva Basilia ("a summer collection filled with bossa nova beat") and Japanese Junsui ("an iconic indigo collection inspired by vintage prints"). Isn't that fun?? Here are a few things from the collections...

Viva Brasilia:

Japanese Jensui:
They always carry their "Daily Tea" line which is mostly knit, and again, this is where all those coordinating patterns come in. You can buy pieces separately or in these handy-dandy sets that they put together for you. Baby J has lived in this stuff for the past 6 months. All photos courtesy Tea Collection.
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