The Tables Have Turned.

January 31, 2009

She's pushing him around now.


The Tables Have Turned from domestic reflections on Vimeo.

The Kumquat Tree.

January 30, 2009

So there's this sweet little kumquat tree just outside C-Man's room. It has a special place in our hearts because when we first found the house, C-Man was about a year and a half and he fell completely in love with this tree. It was just his size, he could pick the fruit and amazingly enough, he loved those sweet-tart little suckers. It made the house seem meant-to-be for us. He would demand "Not-Nots!! Not-Nots!!" every time we would pull up to the house (we weren't living there at the time...work was being done, so we would come by and visit every day or two to check things out). I think he ate almost all the fruit off of it during that first year.

Well, now the new babe in the house, Miss Baby J, has discovered that tree and she loves it as much as her brother did (he has since moved on to other things....like bugs).

Here she is picking her very own fruit:

And....there she goes. Off to something else:

Who Wants to Debate Stay-at-Home Moms v. Working Moms?

KIDDING!! KIDDING!! I just thought we all had so much fun on the breastfeeding topic, I may as well try to keep you engaged.... haha.

Anyways....... On to a different topic. Completely. Promise.

I have always loved wearing aprons. Inexplicably so. An apron to me means so much more than a practical way to keep my clothes clean. All of this thinking about aprons went on on a subconscious level for me, however. But when Adriana (of Sarah Palin and Pumpkin Soup fame) sent around this email the other day, it really hit home.

I think I love wearing aprons because it makes me nostalgic for another time.

The History of Aprons

I don't think our kids know what an apron is.

The principal use of Grandma's apron was to protect the dress underneath, because she only had a few, it was easier to wash aprons than dresses and they used less material, but along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven.

It was wonderful for drying children's tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears.

From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.

When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids. And when the weather was cold, grandma wrapped it around her arms.

Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove.

Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron.

From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables.

After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls.

In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees.

When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.

When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner.

It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that 'old-time apron' that served so many purposes.

Grandma used to set her hot baked apple pies on the window sill to cool. Her granddaughters set theirs on the window sill to thaw.

They would go crazy now trying to figure out how many germs were on that apron. I don't think I ever caught anything from an apron.
***
I think if I were to treat myself to another apron, I would get darling one. I could totally see my grandma wearing it.

We're Into Bugs, People. Big Time.

So now it's all about bug collecting. How is it that boys are just boys? I never once thought to ask C-Man if he wanted to go look for bugs in the yard. Believe me, had I known how much it would capture his attention and keep him happy, I would have suggested it a long time ago. There is this area of the yard that has so many ladybugs it's almost a little weird. That's where we've been spending a lot of time lately.

B's dad, also known as "Papa" to the wee ones, does woodworking in his spare time so the kids have a pretty cool collection of handmade wooden toys (that I didn't even have to buy on etsy!). Now including this bug box:Isn't it adorable? That little flap thing on the side slides up so C-Man can stick his bugs in there and observe. Thank goodness he hasn't started torturing them. Yet.

This One's For the Moms Out There.

January 29, 2009

If you're not one, feel free to skip right on over. But I had to share this piece "How To Avoid Baby Formula" from Gourmet's website (of all places!). If you have had a baby and spent any time in a doctor's office and/or the hospital during your pregnancy and delivery, you will identify with what the author is talking about. Formula companies blatantly trying to shove that stuff down your baby's throat (I know sometimes it is needed, but still....)

Favorite quote: "I had been cooking from scratch for way too many years to feed my baby meal-replacement shakes."

By the way, the author Lesley Porcelli has started The Kids Menu monthly-ish column and she has some interesting topics, so check it out. Here is another great piece on moms who decide to have that glass of wine now and again while -- gasp! -- pregnant.

A Playlist For You.

For the past 5 years or so, my cousin Jevan, who I adore, and his wife Casey, who I might adore even more (sorry, cuz, it's a girl thing!), put together a "Best Of" CD each year and send it out around the holidays. I must say, guys, this year was my favorite. I've been listening to it in the car for about 3 weeks straight now. C-Man and I take turns singing The Kills to each other in the car on the way to school. Really loudly.

They had a "Faceoff" theme this year, which made for a darling cover. See?
Here's the playlist, if you're interested. Casey's picks are the odd ones, Jevan's the even ones. Can't decide whose list I like more. (I wanted to link to YouTube for each song, but alas, no time for that. I did, however, put a link to The Kills' song because C-Man is demanding to hear it.)

1. No One Does It Like You -- Department of Eagles
2. I'm Good, I'm Gone -- Lykke Li
3. Skinny Love -- Bon Iver
4. Buriedfed -- Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson
5. California Soul (Diplo/Mad Decent Remix) -- Marlena Shaw
6. The Nest Time Around -- Little Joy
7. DLZ -- TV on the Radio
8. Your Protector -- Fleet Foxes
9. Mouths to Feed -- Epochs
10. Language City -- Wolf Parade
11. Gila -- Beach House
12. Fools -- The Dodos
13. Beat -- Thao
14. Nice Fox -- The Rosebuds
15. Donde Esta La Playa -- The Walkmen
16. Cheap and Cheerful -- The Kills
17. Old Old Fashioned -- Frightened Rabbit
18. Torture -- King Khan & The Shrines
19. Icarus -- Santogold and Diplo
20. Soul on Fire -- Spiritualized

Me Want Jumpsuit.

January 28, 2009

I gotta say I am totally digging this silk jumpsuit (yes, jumpsuit) by Hayden Harnett. I don't believe I have worn a jumpsuit since I was about 4 years old, but I am thinking this would be the cutest springtime get-up ever.

Here's what the style divas of H.H. have to say: "The jumpsuit is everything fashion should be: fun, stylish, sexy and hip. Our Maia silk jumpsuit is very flattering to all shapes, romantic, and easy to wear."

I could totally be talked into this.

Oh, Ina!

January 27, 2009

OK, so have you seen Ina Garten's new "barn"? Sigh. I've always sort of envied her life....I mean, who doesn't? That gorgeous Hamptons house? The endless parties? The insanely beautiful garden? A personal florist to bring armloads of flowers to your home? Skipping over the pond to her pad in Paris? As long as I'm dreaming here, I would like to be a tad thinner and can I keep my husband? Jeffrey's nice and all, but he doesn't quite do it for me the way B does.

I should just stop blabbering and show you the pictures (if you didn't already see them in House Beautiful or all over Blogland). "The Tessa" (as C-Man calls her) was inspired by the "simple country buildings of Belgium." Here's what she has to say about the Belgian aesthetic:

"It's very simple but very country...The whole thing about antiques and modern things together, and natural materials like wood, stone, leather — it's earthy and elegant, which is what I always look for in food. Real and not too perfect. It is what it is. If you start with really good-quality ingredients, you don't need to do much to make food taste great. Funny, I always say this about food, but it applies to interiors as well. Start with good-quality furnishings, and you don't need to do much to make a house look good." Ina, I would kiss you if you were right here in front of me.

The "great room" where the entertaining, cooking and dining gets done:

Gorgeous and functional kitchen. Hard to pull off.

Hello there, Oh Perfect Pantry.

I could so nap in this here bedroom.

I could also make very, very good use of this bathtub. The natural light, people? The best.

I suppose this is where I would read a book while Ina brings out some nibbles and a kir for me.

Did I mention she has one of the prettiest gardens I ever did see?

Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh............................

Brangelina On Their Own. With Six Kids.

I have no idea why I find it necessary to defend the Brangelinas, but I do. Everyone always says having six kids wouldn't be so hard if you had a bazillion dollars and tons of nannies. I never see these guys surrounded by nannies, do you? Here they are having just landed in Japan. With ALL SIX KIDS. They seems to be managing them all on their own and the kids actually seem cooperative. More than I can say for my own two!

I guess it comes as no surprise that they have another beauty on their hands.

via marvelous kiddo and the huffington post

Meal Planning Monday.

January 26, 2009

I'm trying out a new format for my weekly menus. Sort of goofy, I know. But I always wanted to have a restaurant and write the menus... sadly (*sniff sniff*) I don't think I'm ever going to get that restaurant.

tacos "old school"
ground turkey
homemade seasoning mix
freshly made taco shells
shredded iceberg
cheddar, radish and avocado
tacupeto salsa (we are obsessed)

braised short ribs
green acres baby carrots
creme fraiche mashed potatoes

veal scallopine
robertson meyer lemon sauce
mushroom risotto

roasted tomato soup
gruyere crouton
green acres mixed greens

turkey meatloaf
roasted sweet potatoes
sauteed green acres russian kale
(doubling this dinner to take to a sick friend)

How Do You Feel About Pancakes?

January 24, 2009

Except for the under 7 crowd, most people I know pass on pancakes for breakfast. I can hardly blame them. Who wants to start the day with some thick, get stuck in your throat, gummy pancakes drowned in sickeningly-sweet gooey syrup? Or worse yet, topped with aerosol whipped "topping" and some goopy berries. Think Denny's $2.99 Grand Slam Breakfast from your college years.

Well. My mom was very good to us in certain ways. Several days a week there were homemade cookies waiting for us after school (but all we wanted were Chips Ahoy...go figure!). She baked bread for us, her pie crust is among the flakiest best you will ever taste. What can I say? Her people are from Sweden, and they are known for their baking skills. She also happened to regularly make us pancakes for breakfast.

If you have not had homemade pancakes, I'm sure your mom was good to you in other ways, so don't be too bummed. But you really owe it to yourself to try them and taste the difference. You know how a home-grown tomato picked ripe from the vine tastes like a different thing altogether from a supermarket one in the middle of winter? That's the difference I'm talking about. These are thinner, lighter, and there are so many variations that can add flavor or texture.

Take for instance these pancakes C-Man and I made this morning. They have whole wheat flour and cornmeal in them, so there is that appealing slight crunch and nutty flavor. They also have beaten eggs whites which lighten the batter and make them almost melt in your mouth. And they aren't sweet at all! Which means you are free to drizzle some lovely real maple syrup over them. After you slather them with butter, of course! (I realize they aren't very exciting to look at, but I couldn't put up another blog post without a photo!)

Whole-Grain Pancakes

1 1/4 c. whole wheat flour
1/3 c. cornmeal
1 T. sugar
2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
2 large eggs, separated
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 1/2 c. whole milk (plus more if needed)

Whisk dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks, oil and milk, and add to dry ingredients, whisking until smooth. Let batter stand 5 minuted to allow flour to absorb liquid (batter will be thick). If batter is too thick to fall easily from a spoon, stir in 1-2 T. more milk.

Beat egg whites just until stiff peaks form. With a whisk, gently but thoroughly fold into batter. You want to keep as much air in the egg whites as possible, so it's important to be gentle. This is what is going to make them melt in your mouth, so don't hate me for this strict instruction.

Brush griddle with vegetable oil (or if you are like I am, use some leftover bacon grease) and heat over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Reduce heat to moderate. Cook pancakes in batches (about 2 T. of batter for each pancake), until bubbles appear on surface, edges are set and undersides are golden (about 45 seconds to 1 minute). Flip pancakes and cook about 45 more seconds or until other sides are golden.

It's very important to serve these piping hot with lots of butter and real maple syrup (you can add a squeeze of lemon to the syrup if you'd like). Also, be sure to buy the "GRADE B" syrup -- it doesn't mean it's inferior to grade A, it means it's darker, richer and plain better.

Got Sniffles, et al.?

January 23, 2009

I was very intrigued by the email I received from Gourmet.com this week. It always has a few good recipes, tips, products, etc. all wrapped up in a nice tight little package. (Hey! Get your mind out of the gutter!) This week, however, was "Recipes and Remedies for Cold Season." Which got my attention because a.) they rarely have health related topics, and b.) we all had colds this week. Of course there were some nice soup recipes. (And a little blurb that scientists have proven chicken soup really does help! It has anti-inflammatory properties...I knew that all along!) But there were several other Old World Style Remedies that I am going to try next time. Assuming there is a next time. It would be perfectly fine with me if there isn't, just for the record. Such as:

1. Ruth Reichl's (Gourmet's editor) school nurse at the French Language boarding school she attended in junior high gave the girls grog, a concoction consisting of a shot of rum, a cube of sugar, a slice of lemon, and a bit of boiling water. I'll try that for sure. I don't even need to be sick.

2. Taking two drops of this right at the very onset of a cold is supposed to nip that virus right in the bud. I have read about this before, so I just ordered some to keep in the medicine chest. You know, JIC.

3. Most intriguing-ly (yes, I am SURE that is not a word, but you get the point), a recipe for Feel-Good Tea that the Executive Food Editor of the magazine, Zanne Stewart, swears by. I remember reading this in the magazine way back when, and I dog-eared it and everything but never made it. It has a couple of ingredients that must be purchased at an Asian market, so it takes a little planning, but I'm going to get everything and keep it on hand this season. Here's the recipe:

Feel-Good Tea
by Chef Ed Brown at The Sea Grill in NYC

1/2 lemon
1/2 lime
2 1/2 cups water
3 tablespoons palm sugar
7 fresh or frozen kaffir lime leaves, cut into thirds
1/8 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
1 lemongrass stalk (lower 6 inches only), cut into 1-inch pieces and smashed
6 (1/4-inch-thick) slices fresh ginger
5 whole allspice
4 whole black peppercorns
1 whole clove
7 chamomile tea bags
20 fresh mint leaves

Finely grate 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest and 1/4 teaspoon lime zest. Cut peel and pith from lemon and lime halves, and discard, saving pulp.

Bring lemon and lime zests and pulp and remaining ingredients except tea bags and mint to a boil in a sucepan. Reduce heat and simmer, covered 5 minutes. Remove from heat, then add tea bags and mint. Let steep, covered, 4 mintutes.

Pour tea through a fine sieve into a glass measure. Serve hot.

Cooks’ note: You can reheat the tea once it is brewed.

What are your secret remedies? I have a friend that swears by Vitamins A & D in mega doses and another that shoots herself up with Zicam. Anything I'm missing?

That Seventies Kid.

I've got a little seventies kid these days....big bushy hair, rainbow shirt, flip flops. And I kinda like it.

Top Secret "Recipe."

January 22, 2009

I am all for shortcuts when it comes to making dinner these days. But not if it tastes like a shortcut, you know? That is why I tend to stay away from the Take This Prepared Food and Add This Prepared Food and Add a Jar of Ready Made Sauce style "recipes." I would rather take the family to In-n-Out Burger.

But the other night when we were out to dinner with some serious foodie friends, the Mrs. of the couple shared a secret recipe involving two of Trader Joe's, you guessed it, prepared food items. I couldn't help but take note...she looked around to see if anyone was watching or listening (we were at a rather fancy restaurant) and leaned in rather surreptitiously to tell me the formula. She told me to not judge it and just try it for myself. And, as someone who almost always does what she is told, I went to get the ingredients and proceeded to make it last night. I have to admit, B was liking the dish so much I didn't want to admit to my secret!

The only trick, I guess, is that you have to have a Trader Joe's in your area...and to those of you who don't, what can I say? My heart goes out to you.

Lisa's Shredded Pork and Chimichurri Rice

1 bag Trader Joe's Peruvian Style Chimichurri Rice (in the freezer section)
1 piece of Trader Joe's Cooked Carnitas (in the refrigerator section), shredded
Veggies (Lisa says she likes to "bump up the produce" with this recipe...just saute whatever veggies you'd like before adding the rice to the pan. I used half an onion and a yellow bell pepper.)

Saute veggies in olive oil in a pan over medium high heat until soft. Add rice, carnitas meat and 2 tablespoons water and stir fry the whole thing for about 4 or 5 minutes. Voila!

(Don't be dumb like me -- tell your husband you slaved over the hot stove all afternoon!)

(Also, if you have another easy great recipe like this, please share!)

The one drawback to this dish is that it isn't very photogenic. Thus, no photos of last night's dinner.

Nie Nie is Back.

January 21, 2009

I know a lot of you already know this, but in case you hadn't heard: Nie. Is. Back. Nuff said. Get over there and show some support, continue to get weepy over her and Mr. Nielson's love story, and feel utterly grateful for your life.

Had to Share.

January 20, 2009

Just Sayin'.

January 19, 2009

There are times when a mom is more into her kids than others. I'm not afraid to say it. It's true. But right now, I am so having the hugest love affair with this here baby girl. It couldn't get any sweeter.
(And yes, as a matter of fact, I do munch on those cheeks for breakfast, lunch and dinner.)

Meal Planning Monday.

Monday

Chicken Soup with Rice (everyone has the sniffles)

Tuesday

Pizzas with Broccoli and Delaney's Homemade Ricotta

Green Salad

Wednesday

Black Bean Burgers

Thursday

Lisa's Shredded Pork and Rice Dish with Chimichurri sauce (I will explain after I make it and see how it turns out)

Friday

Parent Meeting at school...B and I will probably pick something up

A Playdate With Snook 'n' Bubs.

January 17, 2009

We had a nice little playdate the other day with the kids of Snook 'n' Bubs fame. Here is Snook and C-Man having a little tea party.
Baby J had her first lunch date with Bubs. They snacked on bluberry muffins and green apple slices. Bubs was a complete gentleman and I totally approve of them getting married someday!!

Right about here is when Heidi and I looked at each other said, "Good grief, we have half a daycare right in front of us. Time to put away that Ramos Fizz!" (Kidding, husbands, kidding.)

Looking forward to more of these. Maybe I can rope in a mother's helper next time and Heidi and I can go brunch on the deck while the kids play.

Eat Like a Local.

January 16, 2009

Just about everyone I know is making an effort to eat more locally-grown foods. (In case you hadn't heard, it's not good enough to trust Whole Foods to these sorts of things. They don't always do such a good job. You really must search out those products that are in season in your area and -- hopefully -- buy directly from a farmer.)

This tool here makes it easy to figure out what is in season in your area. It even tells you what neighboring areas are growing if you're willing to step out of your immediate region to satisfy a craving. For instance, radishes and limes aren't in season right now in Southern California, so if I do decide to buy them (I almost always like to have both on hand) I can seek out those grown in Northern California, where they are in season.

I feel a bit guilty, though, because there is so, so, so very much grown in California at any time, which is definitely not the case, say, in New York. In other words, if you live in California you simply have no excuse to be eating Chilean peaches at this time of the year. Wait, anytime of the year!

Eating My Words.

January 15, 2009

One of my oldest and dearest friends, Nichole, (who I wish would appear in the comments section here someday as I know she is one of my loyalest readers!) told me when I was pregnant with C-Man that I would eat my words once I became a mother. A lot of them. She didn't specify which ones. She just very confidently and boldly declared this to me one day. Being the somewhat smug person that I can be at times, I'm sure I said something like "hmmmf, yeah right, not me."

Well. That day has come, dear readers. I am eating my words. Had you asked me 5 years ago would I, Jora, ever be the type of mom to procure matching outfits for herself and her daughter, I would have laughed mightily right in your face. Never would I be so, I don't know, LAME. But I have simply broken down and succumbed to the irresistible idea (to me, anyway) of Baby J and me wearing coordinating dresses of this ilk:

You can make fun of me (and my poor innocent baby who has no choice in this matter) all you want behind my back, but anyone who wants to make me feel better about this, please chime in. I did not get matching colors, so you don't have to write me off your cool party invite lists forever.

C'mon, give me some love. How cute will we be at pool parties this summer??

Mexican Embroidered Dress for little girls available here. Moms' versions available on ebay.

To Tar-Jay or Not to Tar-Jay?

January 14, 2009

I know I'm not going to make any friends by saying this but I'm Just Not That Into You, Target. Every lovely lady I know adores shopping there, but for me, a trip to Target is a necessary evil. I don't quite know what it is, the stale popcorn smell? All those heaps of plastic bags? The fluorescent lights? Anyway, suffice it to say, I just can't get that excited about buying cleaning products and little boys' crew socks. This is not to say that I don't feel I am missing something fundamental about a shopping experience at Target. Some of the most stylish and savvy shoppers I know get all hot and bothered just talking about the place.

But I think I get it now! Check out Orla Kiely's new home line! At Tar-jay! I can hardly sit still while I'm typing this!


I really super duper need that apron, tiered serving platter, that insanely awesome wooden pitcher and those tumblers. Oh, and a couple of those darling serving bowls, please? I guess I'm going to be one of Those Women. You know, the ones pressing their noses up on the glass waiting for the store to open when these beauties arrive the first week of February. Yikes. I'm skeered.

p.s. there's even more....looks like O.K. will be taking over the whole housewares section!

Two New Blogs For You.

A couple of "real life" people in my world have started blogs recently that you really need to check out. And this isn't just a shameless plug. I really think you will enjoy them.

First, Heidi. Snook 'n' Bubs, which just so happens to be the nicknames of her two kidlets. Heidi is super funny (I regularly laugh out loud while reading her posts) and you don't have to know her in real life to get her humor or enjoy her stories. Some good tips too, especially those relating to kids items. Why don't you start with this post? And this? And this? I also love her Sweet Somethings series. Because I am a sucker for The Things Kids Say. Even when it isn't C-Man.

Then. Cousin (in law) Casey, interior designer by trade and style maven by birth, has started K.I.D. Collective. It's brand new, but already I am totally loving it. Want tips on the trends in fashion and design that haven't hit the news stands yet? Just ask Casey. I love her Anti-Resolution Post. I am hoping she posts about music too (hint, hint) as she has great taste in that as well. (Don't you just hate people who have such effortless great taste in EVERYTHING? Normally I do, but Casey is impossible to hate, lucky for her. Plus, she is married to my favorite cousin. So there's that.)

There are a few more blogs by friends that I am going to feature sometime soon. Don't want to overwhelm y'all.

Any other good new blogs out there? Because I have nothing but time, time, time on my hands!

Have I Mentioned?

January 13, 2009

B makes the finest espresso I have tasted. This is one he made just for me (like he does every morning, I might add.)

Meal Planning Monday.

January 12, 2009

Monday

Leftover Orecchiette with That Broccoli and Italian Sausage

Tuesday

Dinner with Friends

Wednesday

Chicken Piccata
B's Favorite Rosemary Polenta
Green Salad

Thursday

Smitten's Squash and Chickpea Morrocan Stew

Friday

Pizza with Broccoli Rabe and Roasted Onions
Green Salad

Polaroid Fun.

January 11, 2009

I have been having fun turning some of our photos into Polaroids. If you're interested, download the application here.

Bright Colorful Flowers In the Dead of Winter? Yes.

C-Man and I went on a little nature hike around the yard yesterday while Baby J was napping. And it occurred to us (me) that a winter garden doesn't have to be blah and colorless. Check out these pretty little shots of color we found around the yard.







A Little Reminder.

January 9, 2009

To myself, that is. But please don't stop reading this blog!

bookmark available here (found via even*cleveland)

Tangerines.

The tangerine tree that lives just off our kitchen is very happy this time of year. So are we. They are way sweet and juicy, and there are more than we could possibly eat ourselves.

What's Happened to Life on the Farm?

January 8, 2009

I know I've been a little quiet on this subject for awhile. Truth be told, not everything at Green Acres is happy and easy. Say, for instance, the Hungry Fox Meets the Pretty Fluffy White Chicken Incident. Yes, it was very sad. A big mess of feathers was all that was left behind. C-Man has suggested we "run over the fox with a bicycle" the next time we see it. Hmmm. At least we still have eight left.

Then, there is the issue of shorter, colder days which, we city-folks-at-heart now know means much longer growing periods. So, we aren't overflowing with goodies just yet. I simply can't wait to get my hands on the following: celery, brussels spouts, cabbage, lacinato kale, savoy cabbage, carrots, chioggia beets and others veggies I can't remember at the moment. Plus, there is something not very, I don't know... sexy.... about all these winter vegetables. I mean, a big, juicy, ripe tomato begs to be photographed. And all those pretty shiny peppers and cucumbers from last summer? I just couldn't keep my mouth shut.

But then. Late yesterday afternoon, B walked in with those big heads of broccoli. Aren't they gorgeous? (GAH, I sound like the Barefoot Contessa every time I say that.) I want to do something special with them, but I haven't figured it out yet. Any suggestions?

The best part of our winter garden is that B is growing tons and tons of different types of lettuces. Which means we get to have a salad every night. This particular one has carrots, green onions, avocado and pine nuts. And I've been making big batches of this dressing to use. C-Man has declared it his favorite dressing ("the brown one.")

The Photocards -- Part II.

January 6, 2009

As I've said before, I love getting everybody's photocards at this time of the year. I am definitely not one to throw them out after giving them a once over (shame! shame! to those of you who do). But the dilemma is always how to display them? I've seen clever wires and clips, but even that is a bit crafty for me. I like to keep them somewhere C-Man can get at them (he loves them just as much as I do), so this year I hung them above the fireplace in the dining room.

C-Man could get up on the ledge and look at them, rearrange them, take them down to inspect more closely, etc. The cards got rotated as his interest meandered. It's so great for him to be able to "visit" his far-away friends and family this way and to get to know old friends of mom and dad's.

p.s. If you don't see your card up there, it's probably sitting on the kitchen counter (we couldn't fit some of the later arriving ones). And, I admit, I don't display all of the cards without photos as there just isn't enough space -- sorry!

A Little Afternoon Poem.

I continue to be in the mood for poetry. However, this time it's the type written by others. (*collective sigh of relief*) My Uncle is an amazing poet (and a painter and other things too). He wrote this the other day after an afternoon visit at the house:

'C-Man and Baby J' (actually, he used their real names)

your two children
shine and gleam,
squeal sounds
of joy
like small round
nuggets,
pebbles of pure gold
or birds of a Spring
morn singing
life! life! life!
to all with ears
to hear.

Meal Planning Monday.

January 5, 2009

Monday

Potato Stew ("Locro de Papas")
Green Salad

Tuesday

Mom's Slow Cooker Shredded Chipotle Beef Tacos
Homemade Pinto Beans

Wednesday

Escarole Soup with Meatballs and Orzo

Thursday

Turkey Marsala with Sauteed Spinach
Shaved Fennel Salad with Oranges and Pecorino

Friday

Butternut Squash and Radicchio Pappardelle
Green Salad

Meet the Kir.

The other night, when AliceQ was over, I lamented that I need a new signature cocktail. Something to offer friends when they arrive. Something light, not too sweet, perfect before dinner. An aperitif, if you will. For a couple of years now, it has been Lillet Blanc with a splash of soda and a slice of orange....but (never thought I would say this), I am a little over it. Plus everybody has come to expect that now.

And so, as as AliceQ and I were having our own little Latke Party for two (maybe more on that later), I decided this shall be the Year of the Kir. Not a Kir Royale, mind you, with champagne. Because I'd just as soon have the champagne. A Kir made with dry white wine and just a splash of Creme de Cassis to add the most lovely berry color and flavor.

So go ahead and expect that next time you are over here around 5 o'clock.

image via flickr

I Have the Greatest Girlfriends.

Who, among other things, get me things like this sweet little bowl and pitcher set by Heath. Aren't they pretty?

Dream Closet.

January 4, 2009

One of my boring New Year's Resolutions which didn't make the list here is cleaning out my closet....and keeping it that way. I've been working on it over the past two days, thanks to a mother's helper in the form of our 16 year old neighbor girl. Can't really pull clothes out of closet and separate everything into piles with 2 small kids around, you know? Anyway, this right here is what I want my closet to look like:

How pretty and perfect is that?? I was not one of the girls who watched the Sex and the City movie and squealed audibly when Carrie walked into the massive closet that Big built out for her (although I do usually squeal for Big in general). This one is more my size (manageable...not too many choices) and I love the color coordination.

By the way, I transferred everything over to the best hangers. For those of you into this sort of thing, check out Huggable Hangers. They are super slim and velvety so nothing slips off. You can buy them at Target.

image via domino (and the invitation lady)

Resolutions.

January 3, 2009

I really love Resolution Time. I love new beginnings, lists, and (usually) self-improvement. Awhile back, I read that you should never make a resolution that you don't want to keep or that punishes you in some way. As in, I Will Not Eat Chocolate For An Entire Year. (I know someone who, shockingly, made this resolution, and even more shockingly, kept it.) There's really no point because, well, why would you do that to yourself, and also because you are setting yourself up for failure (except in the case of my ultra-disciplined friend). And we all know the feeling of failure to keep a promise leaves you feeling worse than if you never made that promise in the first place and you just went on being your selfish, sloth-like self.

So. My resolutions are not of the punishment variety this year. Some are personal and I don't intend to share them here or anywhere, but some I want to put in writing because I think it will greatly improve my chances. Here are a few:

1. I am going to spend more time outdoors this year. We have a home with lots of patios and outdoor living areas, yet, over the past year, I spent so little time outdoors it is embarrassing. (It had a lot to do with having an infant for most of the first year we lived in this house, but now she walks and I am finally emerging from that post-partum fog. I hope. Again, fingers crossed.) So, I plan to take the kids outside more, read on the deck during their naps (god willing) and have coffee in the morning on our balcony off the bedroom. Also, on nice days, I want to eat outside.

2. This is the Year of Mindful Consumption. This means, unless we need it or I absolutely love it, I don't buy it. No buying something because it's a good deal or because it may come in handy *someday*. We have edited down our possessions a lot over the years (thanks exclusively to my minimalist husband) and I can say I now know the zen that comes from clutter-free closets and an organized home where you can easily and quickly get to everything you need. That does not mean I have not slipped up. As evidenced by, ahem, my own personal closet. But that is changing this year and I know it is going to give me great peace of mind.

3. Get My Clothes Tailored to Fit Me Perfectly. I have so many clothes in my closet that I don't wear because I wish it tucked in a little here or was a little longer there. And so they just sit there untouched. I used to work with this woman who didn't spend very much money on clothes, but she everything in her closet tailored and she always, always looked dynamite. I am going to think of this as a form of shopping for new clothes. Imagine all the new outfit possibilities once I actually want to wear all these clothes hanging in the back of my closet!

4. Be a Better Friend. Having two children 3 and under changes a lot of one's priorities. I really want to spend more time with friends this year, keep in better touch and just be there for them. This isn't easy when I feel like my whole day is spent being pulled and tugged at by two little munchkins who NEED NEED NEED, but I am going to make a concerted effort in this regard.

5. Spend Ten Minutes Each Day One on One With Each Kid. Yes, I am around C-Man and Baby J all day long, but it's easy to let the whole day go by without being fully engaged with them -- in their worlds. No cooking, cleaning, computer, other child to distract. So, if C-Man wants to play dinosaurs, I will. And if Baby J wants to roll around on the floor and climb on me, I'll let her. I hear this goes a long way toward satisfying their needs for attention. Plus it will help keep me in the moment. (Something I work on every year, so I'm not even adding that to the list.)

I have also been thinking a lot about this whole Word of the Year concept that I first read about over at The Misadventures of Kelly and Kelly. If you are intrigued, go here and here. As for me, the word "ACCEPTANCE" has emerged as something that would be very good for me to focus on in 2009. There really is no point to banging one's head against the wall over situations that cannot be changed. There is just too much else to do.
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