Monday, November 30, 2009

Cookiepalooza, 2009: Ovah!

Above, the spread. I wrapped them in plastic-wrap, tied pretty gauze ribbons on the plates, then stacked them (carefully!) in cardboard boxes for transport tomorrow morning. I also plan to take in my students' drafts, a coffee-maker, and my lunch. Wish me luck - I need about 4 extra arms.

Below, the final plate. One enormous chocolate-pistachio biscotto, two kinds of brittle (cashew and pecan), meringue cookies with toasted pine nuts and dark chocolate chips, Jen Yu's cream cheese raspberry jam cookies, and a jaunty little pile of shortbread.

Cookiepalooza, 2009: Update

Done, so far: 2 batches of shortbread; one batch of biscotti; one batch of cashew brittle; one batch of raspberry thumbprint cookies; and one batch of meringue kisses (in the oven as I type).

To do: One more batch of meringues, one more batch of brittle (probably in the microwave this time).

In between, I need to roast a chicken. So it's meringue out, temperature up, chicken in, out, temp back down, meringue batch #2 in. Whew!

And in the meantime? Lecture, book, student papers to edit. Gah.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Who Knew?

Thanksgiving weekend is a time to spend with family. A time of togetherness. A time to make memories you'll always treasure.

Unless, of course, you have to entertain a 19-month-old. In that case, it's four days of dread, wondering if you'll have the creativity and energy to think of ways to keep Mr. No-Short-Term-Memory entertained.

Whew. It went fine. We only needed the finger paints once, and that was really about Brian, not Iain.

Yesterday, though: dicey. Not because of Iain but because Charles and I are such geeks.

Here's the thing: we do not follow college football. Yes, I know. We live in a college town with the state's flagship school and people in KY are sports-mad. I do not deny any of this. And yet, we are people untouched by the madness. In spring, I am usually invited to join a basketball pool, but only because my pathetic ignorance of the game amuses the others. Also, they need my $5, and they know I won't win.

But to return to the point, we don't follow football. So yesterday, when we pulled into the Arboretum (directly across a 2-lane street from the stadium) at 4pm to take a walk with Iain, we didn't think the 6 o'clock game against Tennessee (Kentucky's arch-rival in football) would be a problem.

Foolish, foolish geeks. At 5:02, we began to exit the Arboretum. At 5:50, we'd traveled a quarter mile, maybe. At 6:20, we finally made it near to home, Iain asleep in the backseat, Mom and Dad thoroughly frazzled. In between those times our lives were a sea of orange, blue, and beer cases. At one point, we told a traffic cop "We're not going to the game, we just walked our kid in the Arboretum and want to get out of this!" People in the next car laughed. Laughed.

One bright spot came from the madness, though. At 6:20, having missed Iain's dinnertime and bathtime and being (as we were) hard on the boundaries of his bedtime, I said, "let's just get Chik-fil-A." Charles is not the kind of man to say no to that (who would? Chik-fil-A is God's gift to mankind in the form of spicy chicken, as everyone knows.).

So we got a couple of sandwiches and - because we're terrible people who feed their child junk- a little box of nuggets for Iain to try. He doesn't eat meat, so I secretly figured they would be mine (MINE!).

Lo and behold, miracle of miracles, he ate a nugget. And then another. He ate 4 whole nuggets!!! And I saved the rest to see if the experiment was, as the scientists say, replicable. Yes! Today at lunch he ate four more nuggets. Ok, fine. He ate three because Mommy poached a nugget. You made me confess.

Tonight we agreed to try it again this week. I'm going to make nuggets and find out whether he'll eat home-made. If not, we might become regulars at Chik-fil-A. Really.

Presents!!

Look what I got in the mail from Ben!! It's a tractor, and it's a puzzle (see below)

And it's AWESOME. I love it. I played with it so much this morning that I had to have a big snack:

Yes, milk and juice and cake and mango. I demanded more cake, but Mean Old Mommy said no. Meanie. I threw my spoon.

Anyway, isn't Ben the greatest? He also sent me my very own name in wooden blocks that I can hang on the wall. I couldn't get a picture of that, so you'll have to use your imagination. I'm learning to say my name when asked - "Nee-Nnn."- so this will be a helpful tool.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Happy Birthday Brian

video

Friday, November 27, 2009

Iain's Day

Iain's "fire hat," made at school. He likes to wear it around the house. You know, in case I set the kitchen on fire. Don't laugh - I've done it before.

Today, Iain awoke at 7:29. I, of course, spent the next half hour thanking the Buddha for his generosity. Mr. Pasha found my gratitude tiresome and demanded "Cyrl!!" So we breakfasted on granola together.

Then it was time to bake. Shortbread: check! Chocolate biscotti: check! Fresh apple cake that does-not-suck: check!

After naptime, Iain took us to the local resale shop for some consumer activity. Since it's Black Friday, we have to spend a little money or they kick us out of the country. We bought him a sleeper and three pairs of trousers (one to replace the cords that he has outgrown because he eats so much!).

From there, to the library. 25 books later (and about 20 minutes spent at the puzzle table) we returned home so Iain could read about tractors, trucks, diggers, pavers, vans, and bears. Then we had art time, during which we learned that Iain might enjoy fingerpainting at school but at home he wants a brush.

In short, a relatively normal day. No turkey leftovers, no creative uses for cranberry sauce, but also no tantrums or fevers or bites. The Pasha was pleased, we were pleased, and everyone has apple cake to enjoy.

Cookiepalooza 2009 Continues

1. Shortbread, batch 2, baked and cut and boxed.

2. Chocolate-pistachio biscotti, baked, cut, baked again, cooled and boxed.

So that's two down and four to go (maybe more - the biscotti were easy and look great, so I might go find another recipe and make some more in a different flavor).

Ready, Set, BAKE!

Here's my super-messy mise-en-place. Such as it is. So far, we've got one batch of shortbread baked and boxed, with a second batch of dough chilling. Next are URB's chocolate-pistachio biscotti (she used Martha Stewart's recipe, but modified the amount of chocolate/nuts because it was way too high, so I consider it her recipe now).

After that, brittle. And tomorrow, cut-out cookies with icing, maybe. Or maybe I'll take a day off. But Sunday and Monday I'll need to make the meringue cookies and the chocolate-orange espresso thins. Then it's time to package and deliver.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

1:2

The title refers to my cooking record today. And also on the injury rate, though if that was the third variable it would be 1:2:3.

Let's start with the apple cake. I've made that cake at least five times. It's always excellent. Except today. Why? Well, forgetting to add the sugar until the very end is never a good thing. I should have started over. But I didn't. It's like a cinnamon-apple brownie. Not bad (the flavor's good), but not cake.

Next are the ribs. Yes, we had baby-back ribs for Thanksgiving. We don't play "traditional" around here much. So we had salad and ribs, and (in theory) apple cake. The ribs had a coca-cola glaze, made with coke, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, and a hot pepper.

First, the peppers were making the glaze smell terrible, so I fished most of them out (2 peppers, minced. I used a slotted spoon and left in just a little bit). Then, it turned out that when you boil sugar with sugar-syrup what you get is soft-ball stage candy. Imagine ribs that make your teeth stick together. Finally, I was experimenting with one of those rib recipes where you just cook them until they're done. Not falling off the bone but more like firm pork-chop consistency meat. Charles was ok with that, but it turns out I'm not. I did not enjoy the texture.

So that's two failures. Or, at the very least, two non-successes. I'd make the ribs again, but I'd make the glaze differently and I'd slow-braise the ribs so they're soft.

There was one success in today's culinary adventure. I made absolutely outstanding shortbread. Plain, simple shortbread. It's ridiculously good. I like to cut the square of baked shortbread into tiny pieces (one inch square) for my Christmas cookie boxes. This means I always have corners and edge pieces to "discard" (read: eat).

So I took those bits over to Iain in a little bowl and said, "cookie." He was all, "oh, ok, Mom. Whatevs." and he took one. He tasted it. He said, "Cooookie!" with his eyebrows raised as if to exclaim: "where have you been all my life!??"

In other news, I managed to have One Of Those Days with regard to minor injuries. I pulled off part of my cuticle at the store, then somehow jammed a piece of orange rind up under my thumbnail. Then I was pushing The Pasha at the park and got too close. Boot to the teeth. Joy.

Iain had a good day, though. He read his books in the morning (as you can see above), watched an episode of Monster Machines via Netflix, enjoyed a delicious brekkie of scrambled eggs, a crepe with Nutella, and fresh fruit (banana, orange, and the ubiquitous kiwi), had a morning snack with The Dad, went for a freezing cold visit to the park, and then acted as official taster of cookie shards. Good times.

Tomorrow: more shortbread, chocolate/pistachio biscotti, and chicken breasts for dinner. I figure that's easy enough that I should do ok. Right?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Matrix, Lego Style



Legos have no limits, my friends.

Yay!

No bites today. But I have a new theory. Here it is:

Callie is Iain's bodyguard.

Think about it. Callie is a powerful woman-person. Granted, she's 2. But still - people know not to mess with Callie. And she has taken Iain as her BFF. So as long as Callie's around, nobody is going to bite him. The moment she goes out of town, what happens? Two bites in two days!

When I was in high school, I was very, very close friends with a girl who had the potential to become President, or perhaps Dictator-for-Life. She was gorgeous, for one thing. She was also smart as a tack, hard as nails, and capable of doing whatever it took to get what she wanted. People actively feared her, and at the same time they wanted her to like them.

She adopted me, and one day as we walked along a back alley behind the school some girl mouthed off at me. I was the new kid - it was totally normal. But she walked over, grabbed that girl by the neck (did I mention that she had long, manicured nails?) and explained carefully that I was to be treated with respect.

Not only was there no repeat of the insult, but no one ever looked at me funny. In fact, I learned later (just before departing for the boarding school where I met Charles) that boys hesitated to ask me out because if she did not approve they thought it might be trouble.

I should make clear that I loved this situation. It was great for a geeky girl to be completely safe in a school which had a near-riot while I was there (they locked us in using iron gates!). And she was fascinating, brave, and adventurous.

But it makes me wonder whether Callie and Iain are like a little gang. She's the leader, and he's the faithful sidekick.

In other news, the cookie list is evolving. Today, it's:

Toasted pine nut and dark chocolate meringue cookies
Chocolate-orange espresso thins
Some kind of brittle
2 kinds of shortbread (Lemon-chamomile and regular)
Iced cookies (for color - possibly the ones on the cover of Sunset that look like little packages)
French macarons
Hamantashen (because I like to make a cookie with jam)
Biscotti (because they'll last and they're lowfat and you can eat them with coffee)

If this is the final list (and I'm not saying it is), then I need to start thinking about what to make first. Probably biscotti, brittle, and shortbread, since they keep well and shortbread are better after a few days. Can't make anything with meringue until Sunday or Monday, since these will go out next week.

My shopping list for tomorrow? Flour, sugar, eggs, butter, food coloring, and honey. I think they're going to know what I'm up to.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Muppets, Queen, YouTube HD goodness

I haven't test driven this on the youngest critic in the house, yet. It may be too much. However, it is available in full HD from YouTube now. That level of video quality may tax some computers, so your mileage may vary, but it appears available at many resolutions if you click through to YouTube. You may also need to give it some time to buffer as the streaming of HD video takes a good bit of bandwidth.

I'm not sure the embedded video here is the full 1080p HD stream, or just 720p. If want to be sure you are getting the full thing, click on the YouTubeHD logo to go directly to YouTube, or click here.

NO More Biting!

Except into cookies. That's ok.

This afternoon, The Mom had a bad moment. She looked at Foodgawker and suddenly realized that her favorites weren't there anymore. OMG! ZOMG!

What's the problem? Well...she'd been saving ideas for holiday cookies. She'd been saving them for months. And now...what to do?

But this story has a happy ending. She just checked and they're back. Yay! That means she can finalize her list of cookies (chocolate orange espresso thins, anyone? How about salted cashew brittle? I suppose you'll turn down lemon chamomile shortbread, too?) so she can shop tomorrow while I'm at school and we can bake all weekend.

Mmmm...cookies.

Dag Nab It!

Bitten again!!

This time, a different culprit. And a different spot: on his back.

But wait, there's more. He also managed to get whacked on the head with a door.

In short, a hard day at school. At least they had cake.

Ouch!

Yesterday, Iain got his first "ouchie report."

Someone bit him.

No, really. They were unable to identify the culprit (policy forbids it, which I think is fine), but I confirmed that Iain did not provoke the incident. Charles wants to know if Iain whacked the biter, but I failed to ask about that.

In any event, he has a lovely ring on his forearm, barely visible. The really sad part, I think, is that in his moment of need his best girl was away (she's traveling to be with Grandma on Thanksgiving). So poor Iain had to cadge sympathy from Donna, Meghan, me, his father, and his grandparents. Poor Iain.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Stocking Up

It's Thanksgiving week. We'll be home with Iain from Wednesday night until the following Monday. So I'm building a cache of stuff to handle the crisis.

Fingerpaint: check!
Special Fingerpaint paper (whatever that is): Check!!
Elmer's Glue: Check-a-licious!
Smock: CHECK!
Huge quantity of kiwis: Double Check!!!

This afternoon, I'll take Iain to the grocery for various proteins. I got veg and fruit this morning. I've got art supplies and Club crackers and plenty of milk and Advil. Now, all I need is someone to get up with him at 6:25 every morning.

Takers? Anyone?

Empires Grow and Die

History, made visual. Pretty normal until you get to minute 2, where the red bubble grows and grows and then: pow! Watch as the 20s, 30s, and 40s just change the world.



And don't turn it off before you get to the early 60s. It looks like confetti.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

All Quiet on the Eastern Front

Iain helped me check on the garden. As you can see, he likes to "help" the fish with their pond. He plunges the skimmer into the water, waves it around, and otherwise acts like Godzilla, with the fish in the role of the terrified residents of Tokyo.

However, while he was busy with that, I checked on the herbs left in my raised bed. As you can see below, the curly parsley is still happy as a clam. It likes cooler weather, and I like it.


The sage and chard are also still going. The chard looks a bit small because I ate a bunch last week. But it's coming back and we have at least another week of temps in the 50s, so I suspect I'll be enjoying another chard dinner soon. The sage hides the thyme, also still growing like mad. Thyme can be annual or perennial, depending on the weather, and I'm hoping that the warmer soil of the raised bed will help it come back. It's been a champion.

And then there's the flat-leaf parsley. I don't even really like flat-leaf parsley. So (of course), both of them are this big:

For reference, that's about 2 feet in each direction. And there are two of these monstrosities. Anyone want some parsley? I seriously considered using it for a bouquet last night. Because, hey, it's not like I'm going to eat it.

Juno finds the cooler weather nice, especially since it has coincided with the appearance of the neighbor boy raking the leaves. She gets to exercise her lungs, jump at the fence, and generally be a dog. So she likes that.

Did I mention that Iain throws pebbles in the pond, too? Yeah. If it's not enough to make the fish huddle in impotent rage at the bottom ("Damn you, Godzilla!"), he also selects The Perfect Pebble and tosses it into the water, watching the ripples as it goes down. Then he gets another Perfect Pebble and does it again.

Otherwise, a quiet day spent waiting for The Dad to return to home base. He's back, and there's pot roast in the crock pot and freshly-made granola for the morning. Good times.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thank-You Note

In June, 2007, we visited Bath. Above, the main bath in all its Roman glory. While there, I popped in to the smaller, colder pool where one submits requests of the resident goddess.

I wrote, on Charles' birthday, this: "I gave the goddess a fivepence piece and asked for a favor. I'm cheap."

Guess what I asked for? Indeed. And he's sleeping (at last) upstairs right now. He turned out to be excellent, so this is a little thank-you to Sulis Minerva. You need anything (other than my first-born), give us a holler, honey.

A Busy Day

Hi! I got up early this morning to play with my trucks. TRUCKS! The Mom and I also watched Bob the Builder on the computer and went outside and stuff.

Anyway, The Mom had to be kept on task because she kept popping off to do stupid stuff. Like, at one point she was vacuuming in the sun room. What's the point of that?


She was moving stuff around, like furniture and the trash and the plants. Check out this trumpet jade:

She grew that from a cutting. Whatever. Anyway, she was running the dishwasher, cleaning the bathroom, doing laundry, opening windows to "air out" my room (?? I smell great!), dusting, sweeping...it was ridiculous.


I mean, check out her desk:

It never looks like that! There's nothing to grab, nothing to knock on the floor, no cups of day-old tea. It's just not normal.


But hey - so long as I get my snacks and milk plus juice at appropriate intervals, it's all good.

Friday, November 20, 2009

STOP!

When we were at Callie's house last weekend, Charles said something about using a waffle iron to make cookies. I didn't hear it perfectly because once he said cookies my imagination started filling in the (crispy) (buttery) details and I just couldn't concentrate.

But just now I stumbled across the item itself, on my favorite time-waster of all. Yes, Foodgawker.

So go check out cookies made in a waffle iron. If you think you can stand it.

P.S.: Santa, I do not own a waffle iron.
Tonight, after supper (scrambled eggs, bacon, and yogurt with kiwi, milk, juice and water to spill on his lap), Iain watched this:



He loves this bit, though I can't get him to clap along. But I can tell that he thinks sitting on Mom and Dad's big bed, wearing only his diaper, watching Sesame Street with a full belly and two sippy cups is about as close to heaven as a 19-month-old is likely to get.

Oh, and he's now demanding "EAT!" on the way home from daycare. I'm working on my salute.

Driving

Here's what I'd like to ask the fellow ahead of me at 4:56pm tonight (the one in the Volvo):

Why did you spend half a mile carefully smoothing your mohawk into place, only to then don a knit cap?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Psst - Mom! Hey Mom!! Take Me To The Park!

Park! Park!! PARK!!!

New Book


New to me, anyway. I mentioned earlier that I've finally made the transition to books not on tape. That is, to digitized versions of books. I could have gone the CD route, but they cost the moon, I use my computer's DVD drive for more important things, and I don't own a CD player. So, at Charles' suggestion, I downloaded 2 books on tape for my iPod.

The first book was the third volume of Schama's History of Britain, a wonderful book I've listened to maybe 20 times. I am not a specialist in British history, so I don't worry about little things like "accuracy." I'm listening for the language, and especially for the careful use of colloquialism, contraction, and wry humor.

The second book was the one whose book jacket you see above. The image is a link to Amazon. It's new to me (though published in 2003, so not new by Schama's standards. He has a yet newer book on American history/culture which I might read soon), and so far very enjoyable. Like all his books, there are growling bits of gritty practicality, puns and references to older, other histories, and a wide-ranging mixture of ideas and actors.

Now here's the thing: real historians aren't supposed to like Simon Schama. His popular success, his inability or unwillingness to stick with one field, his crazy-complex sentences that sometimes seem to side with one historical interpretation but on a second reading take the opposite stand - it's not the stuff of which academic stars are made.

But I don't care. It makes me want to write.

Reading

Last night, Charles and I prepared Iain's dinner while he...wait for it...read quietly on the sofa. And he climbed up there by himself.

This morning, after breakfast, he did the same thing. I looked over and saw him turning the pages on one of his truck books, staring intently at the different kinds of trucks.

So that's one new trick Mommy is so, soooo happy to see. It almost makes up for the Epic Meltdown 2009 from the other night.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Family

Today I was reading a new set of letters written by my favorite cartoonist, and came across his description of his household in Harlem. Julia and Tommy were his two eldest children.

"When you are in town, you may certainly count on finding us at home, no matter when it may be, and the shanty and its intimates at your service, our hospitality is of the rough & tumble, higgledy-piddledy type, as we have no serf whatever, not even the shadow of one, but none the less hearty for all that. Julia is installed as head nurse, Tommy jr. general assistant, the dog is door tender and Mrs. N. maid of all works."

Sounds kind of fun, doesn't it? In another letter, about a year later, when there was a new baby, he wrote:

"The baby on whose account the country was prescribed, came back quite ruddy and fat, and so did the other children although there was no necessity for a change in their case, and there was in hers. They all discourse of corn fields, water horses, milking cows, feeding pigs and chickens, hunting eggs and other similar delights with the greatest animation, and by the racket that they make, I think you have good reason to thank kind fate who has again preserved you from an infliction of the Nast family."

These are the moments which make me sorry never to have met Mr. Nast.

In other news, Iain walked into the house tonight, stood next to his high-chair, and demanded "EAT!" Pray for us.

The Last Bit of Callie's Party

The Dad read to Callie while I checked out her crayons. She has an Elmo coloring book, so you know I needed to try it out. Her crayons taste the same as mine, in case you wondered.

Then we chilled on the loveseat. Callie was telling me about her views on health care, while I was telling her that absent a meaningful foreign policy it's all just window dressing. As you can see, the two Dads were thinking deep thoughts. They're not that excited by the policy debates I have with Callie.


Later, we all had a special table for dinner. Those two are the Big Boys, Jackson and Eli. Note how Callie's Mom made a bouquet out of Callie's handprint flowers. So chic.


I got a real fork and a big plate all to myself. At this point it was empty, but after she took the picture The Mom filled it with asparagus, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes with chives, a little turkey, some dressing, and half a roll. I ate the dressing and the roll, but only tasted the other stuff.

Ok, that's it. Now you're all caught-up on my date with Callie last weekend. This weekend she'll be away, so all photos will return to cataloging only my adventures. I'm planning some art, a fun evening with a group of ladies, and maybe a trip to the park.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

New Tricks

High Five! At Callie's party, Iain came up to me and put up his hand. He does that a lot, and it might mean "Pick me up!" or it might mean "I'm done with this silliness!" I just looked at him as if to say, "Yesss?"

So he reach over, lifted my hand off my knee by the thumb, and slapped it with his own hand. Then he looked at me: "Honestly, Mom. Honestly."

Rough Play. Today's day care report said Iain "played a little rough with his friends." Having seen him "playing" with Callie - in other words, trying to steal her toys and then engaging in a vicious tug-of-war - I have a good idea what Miss Meghan meant. So now he's entering that stage where he'll grab stuff, maybe do a little biting, and protest with a screaming tantrum when he fails to get his way.

Which brings us to number 3:

Tantrums. Last night, Iain had an epic meltdown. I mean, ep.ic. As in: awesome, revelatory, apocalyptic. It started when I took him upstairs for a bath, continued throughout the "bath" (more like a dip and scrub), and required us to wrestle on his new diaper and jammies. We put him to bed, since it was bedtime, and he indicated his displeasure in the most vigorous terms for 10 minutes before going to sleep. I suspect he dreamed of dropping us both off a cliff. It was spectacular.

Ah...18 months is such a joy. Can't wait for 2!

Historical Baking, Part 2

The image above is of an apple pie, ca. 1846. That's not chocolate, people - it's molasses.

Yes, the intrepid bakers over at the American Antiquarian Society have been baking from old cookbooks again. This time, they tested 3 historic recipes against a modern one. The historic recipes relied on some odd flavor combinations (not just molasses, but also wine and lemon or rosewater and sugar).

And as before, they used helpless, innocent fellows at the AAS as their experimental subjects. Poor, poor fellows.

Everyone agreed that the modern pie was best. But really - who can blame them when the alternatives were so dire? Molasses? Blech!

Check it out. This is great fun and I hope they keep it up. Also, take a moment to be jealous of the varieties of New England apples they get to play with.

[Hat tip to Intrepid Researcher Bray for his relentless internet perambulations, which brought you this fun ride through the olden times.]

Monday, November 16, 2009

Fun and Games with Cars

When we got to Callie's, I was all..."now what?" It was a lovely day, so we went outside.

I spent a lot of time (a lot) examining Callie's fleet. She has two cars to serve her, one that's silver and one that's burgundy. The Staff drive her where she needs to go, just like mine!

See, here's the silver car. I walked in circles around the cars for about 12 hours. Maybe more.

Then I climbed up the back stairs and posed like a model. It's hard being really, really goodlooking. Don't you agree?

Hello? Hello?

Isla (who has no fashion fear - check out her horizontal stripes on trousers! No Fear! With Blue shoes! NO FEAR!) likes to call people. She's all:

"Hey, what's up? Oh, me? Not much. Just grandparents and milk and striped pants and the usual round of worshipful adoration."

Feel the Love, People

Oh, hai. Here are some more pictures of my special evening with Callie. And some other people. But mostly, Callie.

We played outside a lot. I walked around on the back deck, watching the big boys leaping off and running and wrestling and generally banging or slamming or whacking or otherwise applying mass and velocity to the ground, the trees, the walls, and each other.

I did not try to emulate them. However, Callie and I enjoyed playing in their wake, and we experimented with games like "Give Me the Football" (here's how you play: walk up to The Mom. Say "fuba!" with increasing ferocity while she stares at you, uncomprehending. Finally, point at the football on the ground until she gives it to you.), and "Hide In Plain Sight Under A Small Tree."

Every so often, we had to retreat to Callie's Mom for a little Love:


Callie took the chance to plant another smacker on me. She's a kisser, that girl. See how our outfits match? I know!


Inside, things were slightly more sedate. Callie read books, we played with her toys, and eventually we all ate supper. More on that later. For now, bask in the loveliness that is Callie:

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Knock it Down!


Artist Walter Wick via Boing Boing.

Fifth Wheel(s)

Isn't this pretty? Callie's parents had some folks over for a light supper tonight and they needed extra space so they swapped out the dining room and living room. That's the VIP table in the corner, with Iain's 2 chairs on the left and Callie's 2 chairs in the corner.


The apps came from a collaboration between Callie's Mom and The Staff. There were pistachios and dried Turkish apricots, olives and piquillo peppers, veggies and grapes, and (most importantly) crackers and salami and cheese (goat, Gruyere, and a French double-cream cow's milk cheese).


Callie's Mom got to use her pretty blue knife (a gift from Callie's Great-Grandmother). I love cheese.


But not as much as I love Callie. Here, she plants one on me when I'd hardly even made it in the door. What a girl.

As far as I'm concerned, there was only one downside to my evening with Callie. Who were all those other people? The Staff kept talking to them, offering them stuff and accepting food from them, talking some more, etc. None of those people were there to serve the Moi! And, worse, they sometimes distracted Callie. I think they were muscling in on our date.

And get this: I'm pretty sure I heard Callie's Dad say that they're not "settled" on a betrothal for her. NOT SETTLED? What am I, chopped liver?

I might have to collect my girl and run away to Gretna Green. Don't think I won't.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Put Down The Whisk Before Someone Gets Hurt

We're on kind of a crazy cookery binge over here.

Today, I made soup. It's like a florentine soup, except not. My old friend Kate suggested it a million years ago, and now I make it about once a year. Here's how it works:

Get: two large Italian sausages (sweet, which is to say, not hot), half a large sweet onion (diced), one 15 oz. can of chopped tomatoes, one bag of baby spinach, a cup of long-grain rice, and a lot of chicken stock (I use a jarred stock paste plus water), and a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. For equipment, you'll need a large soup pot (I used my leCreuset because it's not sticky and because it's nice and heavy - no burning!), a wooden spoon, a knife, etc.

Do this: Put some oil in the pot (maybe 2T), then cook the sausages (whole) for a while on medium heat. You're just searing them and making it easier to cut them. When they're browned, take them out and put them on a cutting board. Throw in your onions (you may need to turn down the heat a little) and cook them for 5 or 10 minutes (they'll be sweating at first, then browning a little). Add a little salt and pepper now, while you can easily see it. Once you think the onions are ok (it's a matter of taste, not science), pour in the tomatoes and stir to get up any fond (brown bits). Cut the sausages into thin slices. Add that to the pot. Add the spinach. Poke it down in the goo. Add about 4 quarts of stock (more, less, whatever. It should pretty much fill the pot). Add the rice. Stir.

After about 30 minutes, you will have a yummy soup that's sort of Florentine in that it contains spinach. But really, it's a sausage and rice stew with tomatoes and spinach for nutrition and flavor. The chicken stock and sausage are salty, BTW, so that's why you don't add much salt. You can always add more at the end, but I seriously doubt you'll want to.

ANYWAY, in addition to that, we've got The Great Ham-Fest 2009 tomorrow. I acquired a ham, I have set up my mise-en-place (2 cans Dr. Pepper! Cider Vinegar! Light Brown Sugar! Prunes!!!) and am ready to rumble. I'm also bringing some appetizers, but those don't require cooking.

Once we're done with tomorrow's extravaganza, it will be on to the following weekend, when I'll be hosting a tiny soiree. I don't know what I'm making yet, since I'm waiting for everyone else's contributions to be finalized. But I'm sure I'll be making apps, drinks, and something vegetable.

And now I'm tie-tie. Must go to bed and watch Mad Men. It makes me so delighted with our own era - it's a real pick-me-up.

You Can Never Have Too Many Books

Today is the first day of the Lexington Public Library's book sale. It started at 10am. We arrived at approximately 10:02. Or thereabouts.

I got four books, Charles got one book, Iain got 13 books. Yes, 13. How did this happen? Here's a hint. One of us had to keep him occupied. The easiest way to do that was to take him to the kids' section. There, he proceeded to sniff out, with unerring accuracy, every single book related to trucks in the entire building. We bolted for a few minutes each, picking out this and that, only to return to find his pile even larger. Finally we fled.

But here's the thing: the entire outing, family membership to the Friends of the Library and all, cost a whopping $32.72. for 18 books. That total includes 2 books in Spanish, by the way. Charles picked out one - it's TinTin. He was amused by the idea of a book in Spanish, translated from English, originally in French.

We're going back. Because at 50 cents a book, you just can't beat it for getting Iain set up with stuff to read. If only the library sold shoes...

Did I Blink?

Yesterday, Iain was standing up underneath my glass desk. We kept warning him, "don't bang your head, son!" His height and the glass table top: identical. Every time he walked by the table, we watched his Big Ole' Noodle and worried he'd whack it against the corner.

We dont' worry that much about a collision anymore. I wonder why? See above. Did he grow 200 inches while I was napping? This is what happens when you eat a whole piece of toast with butter and jam plus 2 eggs for breakfast and then an entire Nutri-Grain bar for snack, then crackers, hummus, bell peppers, an entire kiwi and half a banana for lunch.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Success! And The Real Problem With iTunes

First, the success. I love audiobooks. Love them. But my collection of audiobooks suffered from two problems. Number one: they were all on tape and they wore out. That's what happens when you listen to the same book 20 times (It's good!). Number two: publishers don't make books on tape anymore.

So I needed to enter the 21st century. Charles pointed out that if I downloaded books onto my iPod, I could route the sound through my handy little radio and listen at my desk without using my computer's limited brain-power and without monopolizing my computer's CD player.

I went to iTunes to see if they had anything I'd like to hear and (lo and behold) they did. Two audiobooks later (much cheaper than buying them on CD in a bookstore - less than half the price), one minor tech glitch solved by the Power of the Google, I am now ready to hook up my cords and learn all about British slavery.

BUT FIRST (and here's where we learn the Real Problem with iTunes) I had to download a little Ton Loc. Yes, both "Wild Thing" and "Funky Cold Medina." Because I needed a little trip back to 1989, a time when I wore smaller jeans and had bigger hair. Join me?

Daycare and Frankfort

Above, Frankfort, taken from the steps of the Kentucky Historical Society. It's a pretty town, and a place I get to visit now and then for an early-American historians group that meets monthly.

But that's not the point of this post. If I ever wondered why Iain's eager to go to daycare in the morning, today cleared that right up. As we stood in the lobby (changing out sunglasses for regular glasses, waiting for that other mom to stop standing there with the door open, blocking the login kiosk), Callie flung herself up against the door, mouthing (probably yelling but who can hear it through the door?) "Iain! Iain! Iain!"

When we got inside, she came dancing over right away, her leopard-lined jacket trailing elegantly from her shoulders. Everyone was grooving to "This Little Pig Went to Market," and Callie wanted Iain to Dance, Dance, Dance!

Lately, Iain's been dragging his Gossie and Gertie book everywhere. You know it goes, right? "Gossie and Gertie are friends, best friends." Hmmm....coincidence?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Boot and Rally

So, I went to the doctor on Tuesday, right? And first of all, I'd like to say that it's not cool when you have to wait in your diaper. Not Cool. The Mom asked if I could keep my socks on, but the nurse was all, "No, he'll want to see his toes." Did Dr. W. want to see my toes? Don't be ridiculous.

Anyway, I played with The Mom's sunglasses and whatnot, entertaining us for a while until Dr. W. could get in to see the magnificence that is Moi. He gave The Mom a piece of paper that magically produces cherry-yum-yum.

So tonight is Night 3 of cherry-yum-yum, and I'm still coughing. The Mom thinks it's a bit better, but there are still times when I cough so hard I throw up. Like at dinner tonight. I was eating cereal for dinner because...well because. And I started coughing, and just didn't stop until Whoops!

Obviously, I immediately demanded another bowl. I was hungry! The Mom and The Dad seemed kind of weirded out by this, but to me it was pretty normal. The Dad says it's known as Boot and Rally. You figure that out.

Boys, Boys, Everywhere

Above, my godson, Wes. Check him out. Amazing how a little guy whose picture in my office shows him all red and squishy looking (newly born, naturally) has become a small man-person. With a great haircut, no less!

And below, Wes' little brother, Asher. Cutey #2 is about to turn 15 months, but below you see him at his birthday celebration last summer. Pretty adorable, no? I especially like that shirt, since I hear from a little bird that Asher and Wes are both Daddy's boys.


In other news, Iain woke up this morning and immediately demanded "Gossie!" He wanted to read his Gossie and Gertie book before diaper-changing (or, as it turned out, during diaper changing), before eating, before brushing his teeth... Suddenly, everything's Gossie all the time.