Monday, May 31, 2010

Did I Mention The Playground?

At the zoo? Yes, the zoo again. See above. And below. Kind of awesome, no? Off to the right side are bird areas, so you can play and also watch hawks and other large birds while they watch you.

But then there's this:

Not one kid playing on that sucker. Not one.

But if you mosey on down the sidewalk, you come to the prairie dog enclosure:

Yes, they built peep holes into the burrow. You crawl under there and pop your head up to get a close up look at the animals. Basically, you're ogling varmints, but it's pretty cool anyway.

Iain was not impressed. He thought this was a rare form of punishment, actually. And the prairie dogs refused to come over and be cute, so I think we had to dub this a failure.

More Zoo

Tons of pictures from the zoo, so even though that was Saturday and today is Monday (eek!), we're still zoo-obsessed.

Above, checking out Momma Elephant and her baby, and below the pair in question:

After elephants, we moved on through the carousel area to a set of enclosures for Asian cats. There were the tigers:

They were eating some (huge) bones, and these two disagreed about whose leg that really was. The tiger on the left won.

On to the leopard. At first, Mr. Leopard (ask me how I know it was a "he"), was busy up the hill, but as soon as Iain appeared he came down to get a closer look.

"Mmmm...a tasty snack!"

It all looks very serene in the picture, but off-camera I was helping a lady whose 8-year-old got so excited by the leopard that he spilled an entire cup of hot cocoa on her leg. Happily, I was able to say, "Madame, may I offer you a Wet Wipe?"

As for us, things are good. Last night we joined my future colleague KP for dinner*, and Iain got to stay up until 9:20! He was very excited, even a little goofy. Then this morning we picked KP up and went for a walk in the City Creek canyon/garden/park. It's a lot like Runyon Canyon, for those of you familiar with LA. Fewer TV stars, though, and more water. It was about an hour up, then 20 minutes for Iain to have a snack (he was in the BOB while we did all the walking/pushing - but he got the snack), then 30 minutes down. Near the bottom, what should come slowly 'round the bend but a FIRE TRUCK! And they even waved at the Little Man.

Tomorrow morning I depart for Louisville, where I'll be grading AP US History exams for a week. Callie's Mom tells me that (like her spouse) I get grumpy when I'm grading. So hang on to your hats.

*Menu: home-made potstickers, vegetarian curry over rice, sunomono, a spinach and arugula salad with pecans and goat cheese in an orange vinaigrette, mango sorbet, mango, mint and ginger syrup, and chocolate/pecan cookies.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

About "Next Time"...

Remember when I said we'd ride the train "next time" we went to the zoo? And that "next time" might be Monday? No.

"Next time" was Saturday. That's right, the next day. As in, we went to the zoo two days in a row.

But the zoo with both parents is much more fun (Funner. Funnerer. Funnerest.) than with just one. Someone can stay with the stroller, for example, while you ride the carousel.

Of course, you may not exactly, enjoy riding the carousel. But it's all about learning and growing, right? Right. And when the train is not operating (AGAIN), you have to do something to maintain your zoo mojo.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Yurm. I Love Saturday.

What's that? Honey? Golden Syrup? Apple cider? Beer?


It's bacon fat. From an entire pan of bacon cooked by Charles this morning. Yes, an entire pan. Technically, two entire pans. The rendered grease looked too good to discard, so I decanted it into an old lemon curd jar. Next time I need something to fry chicken breasts in...

Peony "Bowl of Beauty"

I put it in the ground two days ago. And today it's in bloom.

Me likey.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Hogle Zoo

This week, Iain visited with Parker and Anna only Tuesday through Thursday. As a result, we had to plan for outings that would fill a fun Friday. Since we are learning that everything and anything fun can be had within about 20 minutes here (Park City? "Oh, that's nice but it's kind of far," said my future colleague. "Far" = 20 minutes.), we looked for something different.

How about the zoo? Yes, it's 10 minutes down the road. Yes. Check it out. Iain was fascinated. Last summer Charles took him to the National Zoo in D.C., but that was not as successful. For one thing, it was 250 degrees Kelvin. For another, it was hot.

But today was balmy. Even Ms. Elephant felt no need for a thick mud-crust:

[In case you're familiar with Hogle, we did see Mama Elephant and Cute Baby Elephant, but that was a different enclosure.]

While we were standing there, looking at the elephant, a man next to us (with his 6 children (!!!)), said, "Who wants to go see the rhino?" and Iain shouted "GO SEE RHIN-SUR-SUSS!" So we followed them.

Iain was, in British parlance, gobsmacked. You can look at the rhinos from a walkway, but you can also go into a cement bunker and stare from horn-level. That's a little close for me (what kind of force can break through 2-inch plexi? I'd rather not find out.), but Iain was into it.

Then there were the giraffes. At first, they showed us their hineys. But moments after I took this shot, this giraffe ambled right over and looked Iain in the eye as if to say, "When are you going to start eating vegetables, young man?"

After the giraffes, nothing seemed as exciting. We saw a silver-backed gorilla, we saw a bunch of macaws, we saw a tiger (rather a svelte tiger - Iain was unimpressed), and then we saw a national icon:

The only disappointing part came at the end. Hogle has a fabulous little train attraction, but they closed it just as we arrived with our tickets. The tickets are completely re-usable, so we'll save them for next time, but it was a bummer nonetheless. And they were testing the train, so we couldn't have a ride, but they kept taunting Iain by driving past.

The toddler area also has a pretty fabulous playground:

Iain wanted to play, but Mommy was fearful she would pass out from the sun. So that's a Next Time activity. And since we bought a family membership, Next Time might be...Monday!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Not Going to Garden Until Next Year...

Yeah. I'm still not going to vegetable garden until next year, but...

Photo from here.

I planted two peonies today. Above, "peche," and below "Bowl of Beauty." Neither are the peonies I planted last year in Lexington, but that can be fixed easily. Both are very pretty and both were locally available. People have amazing peonies here.

Photo from here, taken at the 2003 Chelsea Garden Show. You'd be surprised how hard it was to find a nice image of this flower.

In addition to peonies, today I planted two berry bushes. On was a boysenberry plant, the other something called nectarberry. It's a variety of blackberry, but very large (1.5 inches by 1 inch!) and with few seeds. The nursery was out of raspberries, but since my neighbor's raspberries are planted along our shared fence and they're scrambling over into our yard (as they do), I'm not worried about that.

Not yet planted but soon to be in the ground are two blueberries. Yes, blueberries. I can hardly wait.

Last, I planted a bunch of small lemon thyme plants and more pansies. I lovelovelove pansies and they're marked down here. So I got a bunch the other day and a bunch more today and they're providing pretty bursts of color in front. I still have to find small shrubs for the front bed, but there's no hurry.

So I'm still waiting to veggie garden. My side yard needs raised beds for sure, and that means acquiring untreated boards, screwing them together, laying down some lasagna, getting soil, setting O-rings, bending in the PVC pipe to hold up landscape fabric, re-doing the irrigation heads so they provide spot watering, etc. etc. etc. This year is the time for anything that needs a couple of seasons to settle in - fruit trees (shhh!), berries, and other border shrubs, perennials, stuff like that. Next spring we can worry about veggies.

Received, and Used

Oh, Penzey's. How do I love you? Not just for your vanilla extract, but also for your Greek Seasoning. (The latter of which I used last night to make dressing for the salad I took across the street for dinner with our new neighbors who are adorable and who served Iain a huge bowl of berries because they know.)

When I tried to make cookies last week, one limiting factor was that I gave away my liquid spice rack before we left Kentucky. So I placed a quickie order with Penzey's, and it arrived yesterday. Yay! Bring on the baking! And keep your fingers crossed that I don't produce yet more failures.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Our El-Huge-O bookshelves did not fit into the new bungalow. Because, you know, it's a bungalow.

So we pulled Charles's smaller shelves (intended for DVDs but perfectly sized for paperbacks) up from the basement and they look much, much better in the space. Bookshelves, slipper chairs, artfully posed BOB...check check check!

As of today, the boiler is done, too. So we have: heat, a functional living and dining room, a fairly functional kitchen (so long as you don't try to make cookies), and nicely set-up bedrooms. Well - I should say that Iain's bedroom is carpeted in discarded toys and other detritus. But it's functional by 2 year old standards.

Now if we can just get the boxes out of the darn garage, and those 2 peonies planted. That would set us well on the road to organization and homely bliss.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Haven't Tried It, but Maybe Want?

Sit and Watch the Neighborhood Go By

We are ready. READY to chalk the sidewalk, the porch, and anything else that looks like it would benefit from six hundred pastel "twy-anges!" [triangles]. Charles went out on Sunday during naptime, and apparently the gravitational pull of Toys-R-Us was inescapable. He got sidewalk chalk and chalk for our spiffy new chalkboard in the kitchen.

Below, the porch where we grind down all that chalky goodness. Our neighbor to the east has an entire front yard composed of flowers. There are irises, roses, tulips, flowering groundcovers, clematis, basically anything you can think of. And we get to enjoy it from our porch, keeping quiet company with Buddha.

Across the street, our other neighbor is competing for Best Use of Shrubbery. He has the most gorgeous combination of mostly non-flowering plants. They come in every shape, various shades of green, and lots of differing heights. The result is lovely. And I hear from his tenant 'round the corner (who will be my colleague next fall) that he has a secret veggie garden planted with carrots, beets, and tomatoes. Whee!

I haven't planted much (yet), but I'm screwing cup hooks into the wall like a mad woman. My measuring cups didn't fit in the drawer, for instance, so I hung them from the wall:

Mmmm...cuppa. I think I should go start the kettle.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Don't Get the Wrong Idea

Let it snow, baby. I mean, when you can walk across the street to views like these, who cares if it snows?

And the thing is: it snowed this morning, by noon the snow was gone, the sun came out, and we walked this evening with hats on (guarding against sunburn) and T-shirts. Tomorrow's forecast to be 68 degrees.

Above and below, the nearby park. It has a lake (a rather filthy lake, recently, due to heavy rain and a posse of geese), two playgrounds, a baseball diamond, soccer fields, running/biking/warm weather cross-country ski training routes, and plenty of space for lovers to canoodle.

So on Sunday we woke up, fed Iain mass quantities, then headed for the park. We walked halfway round, let Iain explore the tunnels, slides, and other attractions of the play equipment, then walked back home, ditched the BOB, and tripped over to The Dodo for brunch.

Later, I planted my rose, weeded, trimmed a bit, and tidied the backyard. Iain rode his tricycle, Daddy drove to IKEA (where they're going to name a parking spot after us), and then we put together another shelf unit. In short: good times.

So I'm fine with snow in May. Because this is a nice town. More pics to show that, later.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

New Phrases

All the time yesterday: "Ok, I guess so."

And last evening, when asked whether it was time for bath: "Yeah, sure, great."

EDIT: This morning, laying in bed, I looked out the window and thought, "Gee, the rain sure is coming down hard. I wonder why it's so quiet?"

BECAUSE IT WAS SNOW. Glasses on, eyes focused, I saw that the rain had, at some point, changed to big, fluffy flakes of snow. By 9, there was about an inch on everything. On May 24. Ha! Welcome to the mountains!

Of course, it's all gone now, and the sun is shining brilliantly. But our mountains are whitewhitewhite against that blue sky.

Cookie FAIL (Yes, Again)

Things are getting desperate. First I made the "best ever sugar cookies" which were perfectly awful. Good for building a wall, though.

Then I decided that the best thing would be biscotti. Delish, long-lasting, and not hard to make. Also, I had a great recipe from Jen Yu, who lives at altitude (much more so than we do) and thus I could count on not screwing it up.

Not so. Above, my mise en place. It was purty. I set it up with Iain, then he went into his crib to not-nap, then 1.5 hours later we made cookies.

The dough was fine. It's supposed to be hard and dry and sort of thick, because it becomes those rock hard sticks of dippable love that we all know from Starbucks.

But when I went to cut them after the first bake:

Yuck. The pistachios were like bits of stone, the chocolate chips were like molten lava, nothing wanted to cut properly. I made these last Christmas, and they were great. ???

Here's my theory: we still do not have heat. No, really. It's been in the 50s during the day and in the high 30s at night, and our boiler is not yet installed. I'm starting to be irritated. We have space heaters, which are quite efficient and work fine for keeping us toasty at night.

But I can't get my butter to room temp. That's STEP ONE of the recipe. And I just can't get it soft because the kitchen isn't warm. So when I mix, I don't get light, fluffy goodness. I get a butter/sugar paste that's pretty firm. I think that was a problem here. And my chocolate chips were kind of...husky. I think that was a problem, too. Last time I shredded bars because I lacked chips. Shredding makes for more evenly distributed chocolate, and so it didn't get in the way of my knife.

Or, maybe, I've just lost my mojo.

They taste good, though. I can't give them to the neighbors, because they're hilarious looking. But I can foist them on The Maw (see above), who finds them yummy.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Bonus #2

So we've got a front yard, see? And we've got a fenced-in side yard. That's where the dogs do their business and where Iain plays in his sandbox. It's shaped like an "L," with the sandbox on the south side between the house and garage and the rest (the bulk) of the yard on the west side of the house.

But lo! What's this to the south of the garage? A strip of grass! Property belonging to us, outside the fence, in full sun! With sprinklers already in place!!! And a compost pile of grass clippings rotting away in the back. Holy Garden Magic, Batman.

This is where my veggie garden is going to go. All around us there are raised garden beds, many in decorative patterns or surrounding by lovely fencing. My plan is to do something similar, but it will take some work. So for now I'm rubbing my hands together and thinking about what to do first. For example, one way to border a garden and keep out roaming dogs (like our neighborhood welcome committee, Princess Di and Einstein) would be to plant a box made of raspberries or blueberry bushes. Or roses. And then I could put my raised beds inside of that. Hmm...


Here's how sunny and bright our new kitchen is: the other night I was all, "Are there lights in here? Oh, yeah." And I turned them on. For the first time. In two weeks.


Secret Bonus Item #1

Yes, that's a fully-functioning sand box. And yes, it's already full of toys. No, we did not raid Toys-R-Us. It came loaded with trucks, cars, and lobsters. I don't know why it came with lobsters.

Apparently, the family here before us transformed what had been a hot tub area (cement pad, conduit for electrical wires) into a play area. They built the box, filled it with sand, stocked it with toys, then decided to move. New house: no sandbox. They knew about Iain, so they just left everything for us. No, really.

Iain is pleased. Very, very pleased.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Weekend Plans

1. Biscotti for neighbors and colleagues. Recipe by URB, naturally.


3. Plant the "Peace" Rose I got as a housewarming gift. (See a photo here.)

4. Print out travel docs for my June trip. Yes, my JUNE trip. Yes, I am insane.

5. Finish my Z-Pack. That's right, antibiotics. Why? Why not??? Actually, because I have an inflamed tonsil. Yes, one inflamed tonsil. The right one, if you must know. It started as a throatache, which I assumed was climate-related. But water, tea, etc., did nothing. Lozenges did nothing. Salt gargling did nothing. I finally went to see a PA (who was fabulous) and he said, "take these." I'm on Day 2 of 5 and feeling substantially better. Eight days of a hot-as-fire sore throat will really spoil your mood.

Did I mention that this house came with certain bonuses? Stay tuned...

Just Another Sunny Day

Juno likes to nap in the living room. She's not having the best time in Utah, because with all the workmen coming and going she's constantly in her crate or being yelled at for barking. Poor old dog. With her bum hip, she can't even go for a walk in our lovely neighborhood, either.

Above, Iain with his current obsession, oranges. He'd eat 5 a day if we let him.

Our childcare arrangement is working well. Iain spends 12-4 with Anna (4.75) and Parker (2.5) and Parker's Mom. He plays, he naps, he does art, he's a happy guy. And he's picking up little phrases from them. Anna, for instance, likes to tell stories. Her stories sound like this:
Actually, what's wrong with the horse is his eye. Actually, it's not working. Actually, we should hear three beats in his heart but I only hear two. Actually, that's the problem.
Etc. I commented on how cute it would be if Iain picked up that speech pattern and, sure enough, this morning I put Iain down and asked about brekkie. "Actwally, Mommy..." he replied.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Image from DADD website. Image is a hyperlink

Today I saw a bumper sticker. It said: D.A.D.D.

That stands for Dads Against Daughters Dating.

Naturally, I thought of Callie's Dad.

The motto of the organization? "Whatever it takes."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Cookie? Pfhhlath!

First baking attempt: poo.

I tried to make sugar cookies. They are not good. Not. Good.

Here were my challenges:
1. No cookbooks out yet, so I had to rely on teh interwebs.
2. New oven.
3. No vanilla, so I used whiskey.

I should have known when I scooped the dough. It was tough. Tough like Scarface. Tough like a Monster Truck. I baked them for 8 minutes, and they have the texture of those cookies you get in a bouquet (ie, flour-based cement).

Could I make them edible? Sure. I could crumble them up, press them into the base of a cake pan, make a cheesecake, pour it in, and bake that. I might consume the result. Maybe.

But otherwise? No. These cookies, for sure, will not be going across the street to thank our neighbor Mr. Mower, nor will they be going to my colleague as a hostess gift for tonight's dinner. Nope. Nope.

Excuse me, I need to go fetch my cookbooks. And buy some vanilla. And mulch these little cinnamon-coated hockey pucks.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Oh Noes!

According to my favorite rag (and a terrible, terrible, "curtain-twitcher" of a rag it is, too), eating a bacon sandwich every day will raise your risk of heart disease by half. The horror. Whatever shall I do?

Happy Happy Happy

  • Item #1: Our neighbors here are great. I'm not saying our previous neighbors were axe-murdering zombies, but they held a block party and didn't invite us. Seriously. A block party with rented speakers and a huge BBQ and the cul-de-sac blocked off. Anyway, our new neighbors are teh awesome. They mowed our lawn, y'all. They came over with fruit. They said "hi" (that last bit alone puts them way ahead of previous neighbors (who were the flesh-eating undead and failed to take care of their flower beds)). Tomorrow night I might bake a cake for Mr. Mower and his wife. Because, you know, let's be neighborly.

  • Item #2: Today Iain spent the afternoon with his "nanny" (really a mom who takes care of her own son and a little girl whose mother will be my colleague). He napped. He ate. He "did art." He was a happy, fun boy. Afterward, he commented about his new 2.5 year old playmate: "Parker fun!"

  • Item #3: As of tomorrow, we will have a lovely new boiler, and thus heat. It's a good thing they're finishing up, too, because the high today was 84 but tomorrow will be only 58 as a high. Whee! Mountain weather! Anyway, we'll need heat and tomorrow we'll have it.

  • Item #4: I think Iain might be starting to chill out a bit. He is sleeping more easily, he's eating better, he's happier and more playful. He likes his new bike, his new yard, and the fact that The Mom and The Dad are taking him for many walkies. His latest thing is to say, "Iain have idea!" "Oh, really? What's your idea?" "IDEA!" Giggling.

Microwave FAIL

So remember how I ordered a microwave from Amazon? And how I used my gift certificates to pay for it??

Yeah. Turns out it won't ship for 1-3 months. MONTHS.

Cancel! (don't worry - all our monies go back into the credit pile so I can buy books. I mean, toys. I for friends and family. Yeah, that.)

Now I have to start over. Stupid.

Mid-Night Freakout(s)

As you know, Iain's been waking up in the middle of the night, crying, screaming, etc. He's been getting calmer as we settle into our new house, but some nights he still wakes up.

Like last night.

He woke at some point (no idea when because one thing not yet settled is the placement of clocks), demanding "Read Book!" "BOOOK!!!"

I was all, "It's the middle of the night! It's dark! We can't read right now." Iain replied: "BOOOOOOOKKKK!!!"

Finally, I handed him a small board book.

And he cradled it lovingly, put it under his cheek, and went to sleep, using the book as a pillow.

??? This morning I called the JCC to change our address. I told the young man, Colby, that what we really need is boarding school for 2 year olds. Because they're ODD, y'all. Not just nuts, but truly odd.

Oh, and we have a new obsession: An American Tail. Iain finds the story of Feivel, the Russian Jewish mouse who emigrates to New York via Castle Garden, totally enthralling. Odd, I say.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Callie, Mommy, and Iain watching the Kentucky Derby at Callie's House. Note the TOTAL CONCENTRATION (on the cannoli)
Photo courtesy of Callie's blog

This morning, Iain asked to see his "Bog." Then he asked to see Callie. Then he asked to go to Callie's house.

I showed him a picture of the two of them from late this winter. They were at the Arboretum, sitting on a bench together. He keeps saying, "Iain and Callie."

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Then and Now

Above, our house in Lexington, emptying of its furnishings one box at a time. They left most of the furniture to the end, and those things that needed disassembling last of all.

Below, the same stuff, in a new space.

We're still working out the arrangements. But so far, it's a cozy house, with a good feeling to it.

And the light in the kitchen is just great. The kitchen faces west, so in the late afternoon (and evening, this time of year), it's sunny and warm. In the morning, it's bright but not blinding. Joy.

I have no idea why Iain, seen below enjoying his new, not-carpeted, floor (much better for trains) has been turned on his side. Note the bedhead. Maybe that's what re-oriented the photo.

Today we unpacked more boxes. Today I put a lightbulb in a lamp, plugged it in, and turned it on. In a moment, I'll go downstairs, unpack my clothing into two closets (I have a lot of shoes, y'all), and maybe even hang a picture. That's progress.

Many thanks to Iain's paternal grandparents. They came, they saw, they supervised and babysat and fixed and cleaned and cooked and ran errands and smiled and complimented and put up with all the crazy.