Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Walnuts? Really?

All the cool tweeters are making these tweetclouds... Here's mine, with "walnuts" making it into the relevant words list. Odd.

words (ordered by most used):

night little house tonight getting meeting hope mimi cool josh love totally hanukkah walnuts morning

cloud:

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Oompa giveaway!

Check out this super-rad Oompa Toys $100 giveaway at I never grew up!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Chag Sameach!



Tonight we finally got our little un-kosher make-shift sukkah decorated. We were at our temple on Friday to decorate the sukkah there, we had a rainy day on Saturday and then we were busy all day yesterday. Running out of time. I was tempted to just say screw it since Josh is going to be away later this week so we'll really only have a few nights to even use the sukkah.



But then I realized that there's never enough time, it's never easy, and we have to just do what we can to celebrate the holidays and make these traditions a part of our children's lives and memories. They won't know that the walls and roof aren't kosher. They won't remember that we ate in the sukkah 3 nights instead of 7.

They'll remember looking up at the sky through the leaves.

Saying Kiddush with Baby Bear.


Eating dinner and reading stories, all bundled up in the chilly evening, looking up at the lights and stars.


******
Editing to add a word about what we used for our sukkah.

We got one of those outdoor gazebos this summer, it has a metal frame, canvas roof and mosquito netting walls. For the sukkah, we took off the roof and put some branches over the top (we live in the woods, there is no shortage of branches and ferns etc). The walls are not kosher because they are not fastened tightly and will move in the wind. I think the roof is not kosher because it is not covered enough. But it's the thought that counts!

The paper star lanters are available HERE from moderntribe.com, and they are beautiful and worth every penny! Josh has become rather chatty with the owners over Twitter, they're great people running a great business!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

CEIMB: New York Breakfast

This week's recipe for Craving Ellie in my Belly is the New York Breakfast, hosted by Imafoodblog.

This was a nice little change of pace for breakfast for me. I do eat fish but our home is vegetarian, so I just had cream cheese, tomatos and scallion. It was not particularly exciting, but it was good. I'll spare you the sad picture that I took of my little breakfast on a paper towel in my dark kitchen.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Kol Nidre

Josh is at Kol Nidre service, and I am at home minding the wee ones. Tomorrow I will be in services all day, fasting.

This is my first year of fasting and taking off from work to attend Yom Kippur services. I did not prepare at all mentally or physically. I have not been hydrating. I have not been making ammends. I am sleepwalking through it all. I wish I were really immersed in this holiday, really living it. But I'm doing the bare minimum, going through the motions, and it's the best I can do. It's better than nothing.

I am finally managing to regularly carve out time for myself in our home to do some things for myself and my family beyond the basics. I'm doing some cooking and baking and crafting. But I am just now seeing that I still have not mentally made space and time for myself. I'm not taking time to be quiet and reflective. And to be honest, I'm sort of afraid to. In these past few years of pregnancies fulfilled and pregnancies lost, and babies and toddlers, my body and mind have been in a constant state of fight-or-flight, always in survival mode. It's been so overwhelming. I think part of me is afraid that if I really get that quiet space, if I stop, everything from the past few years will catch up with me and I'll just fall to pieces.

I know that's not true, but that's how it feels. And I guess maybe in a small way, in feeling this fear and wanting to change it, I really am internalizing this holiest of days? It's all baby steps. And maybe, hopefully, next year I'll be just a bit farther ahead. Hopefully my head will be in it, and I'll spend Yom Kippur feeling more than just hungry.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

CEIMB and BB



This week's Craving Ellie in my Belly recipe was the Sweet & Spicy Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, hosted by Leslie of Lethally Delicious.

I love this recipe. The sweet comes from some tasty little carmelized red onions, and the spicy is from pepper jack cheese that's mixed with cheddar in the sandwich. The first time I made these several weeks ago, I was just winging it with the cheese and ended up using too much. They were good, but they really were too rich and cheesy. I made myself another one a week later, with less cheese, and it was much better.

Grilled Cheese is so simple and basic, and this is a great way to mix it up. If I were the kind of person to have houseguests, this would be great to have for lunch along with some soup when it's chilly out, to make something simple that seems a bit fancy. I don't do houseguests, though, so it'll just be Josh and me living it up on these little tasties this winter.

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This week's Barefoot Bloggers recipe was Beatty's Chocolate Cake, hoted by Mary of Passionate Perseverance. This is a chocolate cake with a chocolate frosting.

Firstly, I have a hard time making cakes because it'll just go to waste around here. I'm more of a cupcake gal lately, since I can freeze some, eat some here at home with Josh and the girlies, and easily bring some into my office to feed the savages.

Secondly, I don't like the chocolate/chocolate combo, or vanilla/vanilla. I like choc cake/vanilla frosting, or vice versa. So. I decided to pass on the frosting, and instead I made the Fluffy White Frosting from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes book.

These were so good. The cake was dark and rich, it has a whole cup of coffee in it (I used decaf), which really intensifies the chocolate flavor. And with the vanilla frosting, these cupcakes tasted like Devil Dogs. I didn't have buttermilk in the house, so I had to do the lemon juice/milk trick, which worked great. The batter was very runny, though, and also rose a TON in the oven, which was very surprising.

And pardon me while I get dorky, but I really liked that this recipe called for sifting the dry ingredients in the mixer, and adding the wet ingredients. It's usually the other way around, and when I dump in the dry ingredients, no matter how carefully, some always puffs up in a dust cloud. That didn't happen at all doing it this way. Or maybe I just usually have the mixer set too high and that's why I get little atomic clounds? Anyway.

I can see this recipe being my go-to for chocolate cake in the future. And as you can see, Delma enjoyed them. Yum!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Birthday Bean



My baby turned one this weekend. My Beany. My little muffin. I'd like to tell you about how we celebrated our girl, how we showered her with love and attention, but... Not so much. We are SO birthdayed out, with the girlies' birthdays being just a few weeks apart. We had Delly's kid party, then her actual birthday, then a family party for both girls. Oy. By the time Mimi's day rolled around we were pretty much over it. We threw some new books (unwrapped) at her when she was getting fussy. We didn't even have her cupcakes til the day after her birthday, when we quickly tossed a dress on her and jammed a cupcake in her face to stage a photo op. Poor Bean. Good thing she's too little and squooshy-brained to know how how ripped off she was.



My baby, my love, my heart. Your life is a decision that Daddy and I made. I owe you so much more than I give you. I promise to be more patient with you, Beany. Happy Birthday.

Love, Mommy.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Shana Tova!

It's Rosh Hashanah. Apple cake is cooling on the counter. And when we wake up tomorrow Mimi will be One Year Old. Wowza!

Wishing all my friends and family a Happy and Healthy New Year! XOXO

Thursday, September 17, 2009

CEIMB: Mexican Tortilla Pizza

This weeks Craving Ellie in my Belly recipe is the Mexican Tortilla Pizza, chosen by Joanne over at Apple Crumbles. Check out her blog for her modifications to the recipe and lots of pictures.

This recipe was so good! I had put all of the ingredients for the dip together in a bowl the day before I was making this meal, but didn't have a chance to run them through the food proc. So they hung out in the fridge for a day, which ended up being a good thing -- I recommend letting this dip sit for a while in the fridge before serving, because the flavors had melded so well, the dip was so cilantro-y and lime-y. Just delicious.

We had this on Monday night, for our dinner playdate. It was a cinch to quickly whip up the dip and assemble. I had also chopped the extra cilantro the day before so I could just pull it out of the fridge and quickly sprinkle it on the baked pizzas before serving. I'm glad I had prepped a bit in advance, because the house was in a state of sheer mayhem with the kids running around and trashing the joint.

The kids ate mac and cheese and we moms ate this. It was delicious, I will absolutely make it again. I was going to add some cheese, even though the recipe doesn't call for it, but then I forgot and honestly didn't miss it at all. And here is the final yet-again-un-photogenic product: Still Life with Bear and Dinner on Paper Plate:



The only bummer is that I had a ton of cabbage leftover and no clue what to do with it. I should have looked for some recipes to use it up, but didn't and it all went to waste. Suggestions??

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wordless Wednesday (Now with 100% more Wednesday!)

Delly reading a book to her baby bear, aka "Light Brown Bear" (very creative around here with the names), aka "Blueberry" (when we pressed her to give the bear a name), aka "Kitty" (last weekend all bears were named "Kitty" for a day).

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Monday, September 14, 2009

dinner playdate

Josh is out of town for a few nights, so we had a couple of Delly's little buddies (and their moms, since the kids can't drive) over for dinner and fun. And oh, they had fun.

Who's under these covers, with the lights out?


Oh hi, it's 3 toddlers in hysterics.


And babies want in on the action too.


Then Delly convinced the boys to play dress-up and pretend to get married.


Now the guests are gone, the girls are asleep, the lazy-hostess paper plates are tossed, and here is my dessert. More of the peaches I picked, all peeled and sliced and drowning in white wine since yesterday (a brilliant little idea I stole from Orangette).

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Weekend wrap-up

Highlights from our weekend:

*Clean house
*Got our family room a bit organized
*Fun with our family to celebrate the Hattonettes' birthdays
*I made a Pflaumkuchen for the family, using my dad's mom's recipe, straight from Deutschland
*Mimi walked! (And then today did not walk. Oh well.)
*Saw lots of friend at our temple's monthly holiday program for preschoolers
*Delma was greeted by all of her temple friends with big hugs, you'd think she was Madonna or something the way they all flocked to her when we arrived
*impromptu lunch date at our house with Delly's best buddy, they made sticker projects together
*I made applesauce!
*I peeled more peaches, drowned then in white wine and am looking forward to getting sloshed eating them tomorrow night
*I get to go curl up in bed with a good book (A Homemade Life) and a good husband

Saturday, September 12, 2009

walking bean

Mimi, our little Meemer Beaner, started walking today. She's taken a few steps here and there over the past week, but she hasn't really been too interested in it. It's been making us crazy that he hadn't started walking yet, because she is so steady on her feet when she's standing and cruising, her balance is amazing. And then this afternoon, while our family were here to celebrate Delma and Mimi's birthdays, the little thing just started walking around. It is so stinking cute. That's our big news for the day!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Kick Out the (Peach Melba) Jams!



I made Peach Melba (1/2 peach, 1/2 raspberry) jam last night. It was so easy and I am so proud of myself. I feel like a pioneer.

My dad was over for dinner and I got jamming after we ate and put Delly to bed. He was going to leave right when I was cooking up the jam and was about to start jarring, and I said, "Don't you want to stay and see the magic happen?!?" He was all, magic? Pfeh. He grew up in a little town in Germany, stuff like making jam is so old hat to him. He is not easily impressed. But! I filled up a dozen jars and still had some left over so we put it into some little containers to be refrigerated instead of stored. And my dad got some. Score. And then he was won over by the magic of my jam. Or as "won over" as he ever is. I think he said something along the lines of "That's not too bad," which basically means it's super-awesome.

Next I want to try apple pumpkin butter.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

CEIMB and Barefoot Bloggers


So I joined another cooking blog group, Barefoot Bloggers. Hi, gang! Nice to be here. This is my first week, and the recipe is the Birthday Sheet Cake, chosen by Susy of Everyday Gourmet.

Like the name says, it's meant to be baked as a sheet cake. I didn't have a sheet cake pan, so I made cupcakes. Something about this recipe seemed very old-fashioned to me. Maybe it was the corn starch and corn syrup, I don't know. I felt like I was chaneling my inner 50's housewife. The cake was good, I liked the lemon in it (the batter smelled great). It tasted like a sugar cookie.

I dipped the cupcakes into the frosting because it was runny, so they were very smooth and pretty. But I did not really care for the frosting. It wasn't sweet enough for me, it pretty much just tasted like semi-sweet chocolate chips. Some like that, but I don't really care for it. I froze half of the cupcakes to use this coming weekend, so I wish I'd halved the frosting recipe instead of having so much left over that I tossed. I definitely won't use the frosting recipe again, but I would probably try the cake again.

And in 2 weeks, the next BB recipe is another cake! Oh, it's so tough being forced to make more cake. Poor me. :)

***********************

This week's Craving Ellie in my Belly is Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches. It's hosted by Pamela of Cookies with Boys, check out her blog for the recipe and her review of the recipe.

LOVED IT. I've never made anything BBQ-y before. The recipe was so easy, and so good. I used this "Shredded Chicken" meat alternative, and it made such a nice little lunch for us when we had a friend visiting last weekend. It ended up sitting on the stove for quite a while because I started cooking too early, so it cooked down a lot and got really thick. It was delicious. I will absolutely make it again.

I am not posting the picture I took of this sandwich. Josh saw it and said "It looks like poop." I said, "It's a sandwich. You can see the lettuce and the bread!" He said, "It looks like someone put poop on lettuce and bread." So, there you have it.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wordless Wednesday



OK, maybe not entirely wordless. Sorry! Please note the pink blur on top of the girl on the left. That is a water balloon that Delma threw (with obvious glee) and that made a direct hit on the top of Danielle's head. So much for "No Throwing!" Danielle, by the way, was not hurt. Just soaked.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Mommy's girl

Delma was never a mommy-baby. I often tell people that she has been a fiercely independent person from the day she was born. She wasn't a cuddler. I think maybe only a handful of times in her entire infancy was she so cozy in my or Josh's arms that she drifted off to sleep while we held her. She's always needed her personal space. She rarely showed any preference for one of us over the other, and when she did start to it was almost always a preference for Josh. She very much became a Daddy's Girl.

Mimi, however, has been a totally different story. She is a squooshy little cuddle-bug. She loves to be held. She'll rest her head on your shoulder, she is inconsolable if she's in the mood for a cuddle and you need to put her down to pee or something. She is ALL ABOUT mommy, which makes me feel like a rock star but also sucks the life out of me. Seriously, if it were physically possible and I let her, she would crawl right back into me. It's no wonder my labor had to be induced after I was 9 days late -- that girl never would have budged on her own.

After Mimi was born and Josh had to take over Delly-duty so much more so that I could nurse and care for Mimi, it wasn't that hard on Delly. It wasn't tough for her to spend a bit less time with me, she didn't much notice my absence. But. Something has happened in the past month... Mimi has finally become a bit of a threat, now that she's on the verge of walking and is sharp as a tack and into everything. Now she's all about me too, and has become a little Mommy's Girl.

Our family dynamic has totally changed. Delma begs for me. Josh feels rejected and bummed out. Mimi makes a bee-line right for me when she sees Delma getting up in my grill and literally climbs all over me to get in on the mommy pig-pile action. Oy. I'm not going to lie, the adoration doesn't suck. But man is it exhausting.

Monday, September 7, 2009

head case

Today was overall a lovely day. I got a chance to do all sorts of make-me-happy things: raspberry picking with the family, Indian lunch, peach picking on my own... At home later in the day I got to do some baking and made dinner. Mimi was in a good mood, was was being so funny and had me laughing out loud. Delly was sweet and cuddly, hopped into the bath with me this morning and was a funny little nut as usual. But she didn't nap and was rough during and after dinner, and pushed us past our limits.

What's hardest for me with parenting, what makes me craziest, is how immediately influenced I am by Delma and her moods and behavior. It's like I'm a raw nerve, I have no reserves to buffer me, and (most, though not all, days) all it takes is her freaking out to reduce me to a disastrous puddle. I lose my temper, I behave horribly. It makes me feel like an insane person. And then everything is fine and all is forgiven, but at the end of the day it leaves me tapped out and exhausted.

I can already see how it will be better. Now that Mimi is bigger, and Josh and I actually get some breathing room on occasion and have the space to feel like ourselves again and not just solely parents, we get the opportunity to build up that reserve so badly needed. But it's slow going. And in the meantime, well, I guess ending every day -- no matter how awful -- with hugs and kisses and I Love Yous is a success.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Peaches and Raspberries and Jam, Oh my!

Our local farm market had a fruit jamming and canning class last week, but didn't anticipate the throngs of people who would want to take the class. So they scheduled 4 additional classes... I called about 30 minutes after registration began and got one of the few spots left.

Tonight I peeled fresh, ripe, local peaches, and canned them. I helped make peach and peach melba jam. I learned how absurdly easy it is, and I can't wait to try it myself at home. The only thing on my to-do list for tomorrow is to go pick peaches and raspberries and jam the shiznit out of those babies. Stay tuned!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Me and my girl

Today was a beautiful day, and we came up with the grand idea of going to the cute little near-by zoo. But then there was an errand that needed running, and Josh and I decided to each take a kid and get our stuff taken care of. Josh and Mimi to the Apple Store, and Delma and me to the zoo.

This was something we hadn't really prepared ourselves for before Baby #2: the whole Divide and Conquor situation. When there was just Delly, we were a solid little family unit doing everything together. Josh and I could both focus our attention on the one babe, and we could spend our free time together as we always had pre-kid. Then, when Mimi came onto the scene, it was all different. Josh had to take over Delly-duty much more so I could tend to Mimi. It's made for some strange, unexpected (by us ignorant dum-asses) dynamics. It's meant Josh couldn't spend as much time with Mimi as a baby as he did with Delly, and didn't get to bond with her the same way. It's meant I haven't been able to spend as much quality time with Delly as I'd like. It's meant that as a couple Josh and I have been separated more often during our free time than we'd ever been. It's been weird.

So, it was nice to get a nice chunk of the day alone with my Del today. At the zoo, I pushed my (empty) stroller and Delly pushed her little stuffed baby bear in her doll stroller. Side by side. It was so sweet, I think it was just what both she and I needed.

Friday, September 4, 2009

season's harvest

Our sad little attempt at a garden this year was SUCH a bust. Parsley died, peppers, cauliflower and brussels sprout all got chomped beyond recognition my slugs, and the radishes turned into ant condos. Zucchini did OK, but with our dashed spirits was a bit neglected and only produced a few edibles.

We have a patio tomato plant that did nothing forever, then all of a sudden had a few little yummers show up.



The second I saw them I grabbed them, hacked 'em up and turned them into a salad.



They were good. I wish there had been far more of them.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

CEiMB: Waldorf Chicken Wraps


This week's Craving Ellien in my Belly recipe is Waldorf Chicken Wraps, hosted by Jessica over at Johnstone's Vin Blanc.

For the "chicken" I chopped up a bunch of these veg chicken drumsticks, which are so insanely good they make me swoon. There's a Chinese restaurant up in West Hartford called China Pan (or as we call it, China Pants, and also we don't just say the name, we sing it to the old SpiderMan theme song tune: "China Pants, China Pants, does whatever a China can...") that has an A-MA-ZING selection of vegetarian and vegan meat and seafood alternative product dishes. One of our favorites is the Vegetarian Drumsticks, which the owner basically told me they invented, and I believed him after I spent a ton of time online trying to track them down to buy but never did find them. Dump them in duck sauce and prepare yourself for a little plate full of heaven.

And then recently I found out Veat had been discontinued, and somewhere in some discussion thread someone mentioned this company in NYC that sells great meat alternative stuff that's just as good as Veat. I checked it out, and lo and behold! Our drumsticks. These are literally the EXACT product that the dude at China Pants carries, along with a bunch of other things on his menu, like vegan citrus spare ribs (drool...), prawns, duck, etc. I have ordered from them twice so far and am just thrilled that I found them!

Um, what were we talking about? Right, these Waldorf thingamajigs. Simple recipe, and they were very tasty. Josh loved them. I did not love them, but I did like them a lot. I don't think I'd add them to our dinner recipes rotation, but they would be great to whip up for pot-lucks and picnics and whatever. If you're a chicken salad type of person, you'll dig this recipe.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

purses

These are some bags I made a while ago, using Sarah's Pleated Purse Pattern.

I made this one for myself first.



It came together really easily, so I decided to use the same pattern for a bag for my partner in our crafty club. For this one I used an Amy Butler charm pack to patchwork the outside panels, with coordinating fabric for the lining and handles.



This is such a great pattern! It was good for me to learn how to put in a magnetic snap, too. On the first bag I made for myself I did a quick-and-dirty job with the snap, and it really isn't sturdy enough to just grab and pull the snap apart by the fabric. I did it correctly for the next one and it made a huge difference. Not sure how it's holding up, I should ask my pally.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Life in 3D

Oh hi! Were you stopping by expecting to see a Craving Ellie in my Belly post or something? Yeah, not so much. The past 2 have been very meaty, and things at home have been rather hectic, so... you know... This week I'll be back in the saddle, I promise! Also, I signed up for September NaBloPoMo, to kick myself in the blogging-pants. We'll see how that works out...

The biggest news at Chez Zero is that my big baby girl Delma turned 3. Oy. We have celebrated primarily with rousing, enthusiastic tantrums and time-outs. And also jumping around in a new purple leotard and eating purple cupcakes.



Delly had a gymnastics party with her little friends this past weekend, it was really great. Thankfully the day wasn't very hot, so it didn't smell too badly like a litter box in the gym. The big kids who work there did a good job of keeping the little kids herded (reminded me of that commercial about herding cats), and the littles all had a ton o' fun. They also did not like sharing toys and at least half were crying at one time or another, but that's life in a room full of preschoolers!

And Delly made out like a bandit in the gift department, lots of crafty stuff and dress-up stuff. And her first Barbie, which I am particularly excited about.

This really has been a tough couple of weeks for Delly. The lead-up to her birthday, with all of the excitement and anticipation... And she's officially moved now into the pre-school room at daycare, which is great for her because most of her friends have moved over already in the past few months and now they're all together again. But she's leaving a teacher whom she loves very much and that has been hard. Big changes for a little girl, and it's taking its toll on us all. I'm assuming that we will all survive this. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

CEIMB: Triple Chocolate Cookies



I had to cheat a bit on this weeks Craving Ellie in my Belly, because it's not a dish that can be easily vegetarianized, so I hit the archives and decided to bake up the Triple Chocolate Cookies. Um, hello? Yum.




I did add the optional salt, and am wondering if I accidentally added more than the 1/4 tsp called for, because the one I ate actually tasted salty. I thought it was great, though, like salted chocolate. So good. Also, as usual for me, so not photogenic. Piles of poo on a plate. Dig in!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

CEimB: Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Lemony Cream Cheese Frosting

This week's CEiMB was chosen by Leanne over at Enjoying my Favorite Things. Oh Leanne, God bless you for picking the Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Lemony Cream Cheese Frosting. I am a BIG fan of carrot cake and of cream cheese and of lemons. So, I was all about this. I thought that 1/2 tsp of lemon zest just sounded like a cruel tease so I multiplied that by about a kajillion. My dad was over last night and we all dug in when these babies were frosted. My dad said, "I'm with Mae West on this one: Anything worth doing is worth doing in excess." He may have gotten the quote wrong but I couldn't aggree more with the sentiment. The frosting came out very lemony but really not overpowering or too much. Super-extra-special-delicious. And though grating carrots is admittedly not a favorite pastime of mine, this makes a small batch so it's not a ton of work, and other than that the recipe comes together in no time. I will make these again and again and again.

Our camera had a dead battery so my iPhone had to pinch-hit last night. Not a great photo, but at least it is photographic evidence that I made these, so no one can accuse me of lying.



Oh and also, I had no cupcake papers so these guys were just freestyling in the muffin tin. I checked them after 18 minutes and they were done. They probably would have been even better if I'd taken them out a minute or two earlier. Do the papers add to baking time?? Enquiring minds want to know.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Dear Twitter, I Love You

When I first started tweeting, it was just a sort of experiment to see what all the hoop-lah was about. I'm on the Faceplace all the time, I can update my status as my day progresses, many of my close friends check in there throughout the day and it's a fun place to be. Isn't that enough?

Twitter at first just seemed to be a place for people to spew out every little thing they think and do all day long, in 140-character snipets, and it seemed absurd. But then I started following a lot of my favorite bloggers, and suddenly there was all of this added context for the posts I was reading. I felt like I was getting the inside scoop, hearing about the puppies nipping their ankles and the kids screaming as they wrote blog posts that I would then go read, and it added a whole new layer of richness to the experience. I'd follow designers waiting for the mail to see samples of fabric or sewing patterns that I'd then buy, or authors slogging through work on books that I'd go on to read. I'm right there with them, and all of the little daily trials and tribulations and joys become part of this larger, more organic web of context and sharing and experience.

Blog posts can be very personal, and often very off-the-cuff, but there is understandably quite a bit of editing behind the scenes. Good bloggers write with focus and edit well, while still allowing for their own personality and style to shine through. Over in Twitter-land, though, no one asks for focus or editing. Just spit it out and move on, typos be damned (or even required, to squeeze your thought into 140 char). And I can tweavesdrop on exchanges between other people, often very funny people, which is very appealing to my voyeuristic tendencies.

I've been hooked for a while. But then last weekend I had this very small, but wonderful experience. We were having a dinner on Saturday night with a few friends from our temple, all of our kids, and the family of our brand-new rabbi. We would be doing the Havdalah ceremony (to non-Jews: Havdalah is the weekly observence of the end of the Sabbath, or Shabbat, or Shabbos, at sunset on Saturday). That afternoon, my friend who was hosting the dinner texted me and asked if I had a Havdalah candle that I could bring. I texted back that no I did not, and I also didn't have the box of spices we'd need. And she was all hello? Box of spices? And we both panicked.

And then I thought: Twitter can help me! I follow several rabbis, rabbinical students and knowledgeable Jews. I sent out a plea for help from my phone as I was out running errands, and within minutes I had the info I needed for what the necessities for the ceremony were, what we could use that we already had at home, and we were all set. (Thanks again @heidihoover and @imachai!!!) Jews save the day!

I called my friend and gave her the scoop, and told her I'd heard it from "my rabbi friends on Twitter." I might have felt a little bit like I was very cool and fancy. And she might have chuckled mockingly a little bit. And that summed up why I love Twitter, the immediacy of connecting with all of these people all over the world. It's like IMing with scads of people simultaneously. It makes me happy.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

CEiMB: Baked Onion Rings

This week's CEiMB recipe is Ellie's Oven Baked Onion Rings, chosen by Meet Me in the Kitchen.



When I was working on these, Josh came home to find us in the kitchen, me furiously dipping and coating my onion rings while Mimi sat on the floor at my feet howling and Delma stood next to me screaming over and over and over MOMMY I NEED LIPGLOSS. So, you know, I didn't really take much care in the assembly of this dish. I was very quick and sloppy in throwing them together, and it shows. Goodness, that photo looks unappetizing. I'm sorry you have to even look at it. The onion rings, however were very very good.

These ugly yummy babies came out a wee bit spicy for me. I would try them again with different herbs, maybe Italian seasoning or something. Also -- man, those baked potato chips were good! I am officially hooked.

Onion rings that aren't all greasy and fried and bad for you. Thanks, Ellie!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

CEiMB: Aromatic Noodles with Lime-Peanut Sauce


I didn't think I'd be able to cook along with the Craving Ellie in My Belly crew this week. We've had a heck of a week. But this recipe was so quick to throw together that even I, with my sinus infection causing throbbing pain in my head and neck, and with my needy baby with her ear infection, and with my crazy toddler and her I WANT TO COLOR WITH CHALK I NEED WATER THE BABY IS TOUCHING MY PUPPY PAPER, and with my husband stumbling around like he's about to keel over because our house has been consumed by like one huge atomic germ, could manage to pull it off. It's that easy.

I didn't have fresh ginger, so I used this ginger/garlic paste sort of stuff that I had in the fridge. When I blended up the sauce I thought I had totally blown it with that uncalled-for garlic, but once it was on the spaghetti it tasted just fine. And I didn't have red pepper flakes so I used cayenne pepper, but I used a little less than the recipe called for because Josh said that cayenne is hotter than the red pepper flakes. What else... Oh, I used broccoli, green beans and baby peas. Some people have talked about adding edamame or other things to get some protein into this dish, but peas actually have quite a bit of protein. I think. Or did I just unintentionally make that up? I really do think I've read that in some reliable source somewhere. Also I didn't think I was going to dig the whole wheat pasta, but I used some by Bionaturae from the overpriced health food joint and it was GREAT.

All in all, a fast and very tasty meal. I will definitely make this again. You can see the recipe here or at the blog of our host this week, Supplicious.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

CEimB



For this week's Craving Ellie in my Belly, Lonely Sidecar picked the Lobster or Shrimp Roll. They look so freakin good. I am a huge fan of lobster, despite being a mostly vegetarian. I do eat seafood outside the house but never prepare it at home. So I had to skip this week's recipe.

But I really wanted to try the gazpacho that everyone made a few weeks ago, so I whipped up the White Gazpacho with Grapes and Toasted Almonds.

Good God. It flew together in no time and was absolutely delish. I didn't get it entirely smooth so it still had some nice texture. I will definitely use this recipe again, it would be great when having dinner guests because it is so stupidly easy but seems very unusual and fancy. I'm a big fan of fancy deception.

Also please admire that rad trifle bowl that rarely sees any action. We got these from Crate and Barrel with a wedding gift certificate, it's a set of nice heavy Polish glass bowls, a big mama one and I think four of these smaller ones. They're lovely and I've never used them as actual serving bowls for some reason. Add that to my to-do list: Use pretty bowls for something either than staging food photos or storing dead batteries.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

CEimB: Breakfast Cookies

This is my first week participating in Craving Ellie in my Belly. Hi, gang! What's for Supper? is hosting this week, serving up the Breakfast Cookies. I'm so happy this was my first recipe, because I've actually been looking for a good breakfast cookie recipe. Delma eats her breakfast at daycare every morning, so we try to send her easy-to-pack stuff that's relatively healthy. Packing 2 meals plus snacks every day is a lot, especially since we try to keep it pretty simple and we don't want her to get bored with all the repeats of meals. Like when we make a box of Annie's, and then she has mac 'n cheese (with lots of frozen wee peas tossed in to make us feel like she's eating something healthy!) for lunch for 3 days...

So, breakfast cookies. Easy to pack, chock full of stuff I feel good about her eating. I didn't have time to try to stage a photo that would make some big lumpy cookies look lovely. They taste great, though -- not very sweet at all, lots of good stuff that will have you picking at your teeth for ages after eating one of these bad boys.



We only had a sad bag of basically walnut crumbs left, so I used half walnut and half pecan, toasted and then chopped into oblivion. I usually leave nuts in cookies or muffins sort of chunky, but I wasn't even paying attention tonight when I was pounding on that chopper (that sounds dirty), and they ended up practically powder. That's fine, though. And we also didn't have any bran or other flake cereal in the house, so I used Grape Nuts. Oh, and I didn't have pastry flour, so I just used regular whole wheat and all-purpose. I have no clue how that may have changed the final outcome.

This is a great, super-easy recipe and lends itself to countless variations. I'll definitely try with dried cranberries, and with some fruit-sweetened chocolate chips. Yum!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Craving Ellie in my Belly

So, I decided to join the Craving Ellie in my Belly group. I really want to try new recipes on a regular basis, and this will force me to do it. I picked a great week to start, too -- Breakfast Cookies!

Posting is each Thursday, and I have the night to myself for a bit tonight while Josh is out at band practice, so it looks like Delly will have a fresh-baked cookie for breakfast tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

struggling

I'm struggling a lot lately. There really is nothing particularly rough happening, Josh and I are great, my job is going well, I have been finding little bits of time to do some sewing and play with the bread maker, Delma is becoming a very fun little buddy, and Mimi is finally becoming enjoyable and engaging. But. Our days are long, both girls are up before 6 every day. Mimi is still very time- and energy-consuming. Delma is a toddler, 'nuff said. Our house is in a constant state of disorder, which totally messes with my sense of calm and stability. I am in the worst shape of my life and can't (don't) find time to exercise. At the end of the day I have no energy to blog. The weekends are fun but are filled with errands and go too fast. We don't have a dishwasher, so, oh those dishes. And don't even get me started about the laundry.

I'm pretty much feeling like a hamster on a wheel. It's all just basic life stuff, I know, and it's not stuff that's going to go away. But I just feel like we can't stay on top of things, let alone ever get ahead. The daily grind is sort of beating me down. I'm looking forward to Mimi getting a bit older and us having some more breathing room in our days. I want more joy, I want to create more magic in our world for my girls. I want to create beautiful little adventures and projects and memories.

I need to make a pledge to my family and to myself, to make it happen. I need to make the time, even in small bitty doses, to do things for myself like exercise and sew and write. I need to do more than just *manage* my children, I need to do more to enjoy them. I need to make some joy and magic. Or at least try.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Happy Burfday to me

So, I'm 37. My birthday ended with Delma housing a cupcake (that she frosted and then decorated by herself with almost an entire bottle of star sprinkles), a Lindt dark chocolate truffle (that I only gave her because I thought for sure she'd hate it and spit it out), and most of my piece of chocolate cake (that I was too busy chatting with my dad to notice she was inhaling). She then spent over and hour and a half past bedtime singing and hooting and chatting to herself in bed before finally passing out. That girl can really rock.

Delly has a habit of saying "my" instead of "I." Like, "1,2,3 here my come!" Or, "Oooh, my like that!" In honor of her unique grammar and rock star lifestyle, Josh doctored a photo of Delly as a b-day gift for me:



Perfect. 37, here my come!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

smockety

Delma has developed a bit of an obsession with pockets. She likes to hold little things, like rocks or beads, and since she is not allowed to carry her own little things around in school, or have little choking hazzards around Mimi, she has realized that pockets are the perfect solution. She can fill them up with rocks, beads, barrettes, hair ties, etc, and have all her little treasures close by without getting into trouble. But not all of her pants/shorts/skirts have pockets, so I whipped up a smocket using Alicia's tutorial. Now if Delly is wearing something without pockets, but needs to stash some little treasures, we can toss this on her over her clothes.



I squared off the ends of the straps and put snaps on instead of tying them. I used a nice cotton/linen blend from jcarolinecreative.com that hides schmutz and cat hair very well and can just go in the washer and dryer.



Here's a close-up of the pocket, which was a total late-night hack job. It's really bad. But it works, so there you go. Plus it has mushrooms. "Mommy, I like mushrooms!"



I have some little tops similar to this shape that I made for D when she was a babe, and that Mimi will wear this summer, and am very glad to have found this pattern for larger sizes. So easy to modify it, make it completely reversible (leave off the pocket), make it longer or shorter, etc. Love it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

big day

Delly hit a major milestone this weekend when she pooped on the potty for the first time. We were beyond thrilled. Josh and I both got tears in our eyes, and while Delly sat on the toilet, grinning from ear to ear and practically bursting with pride, we sang the Shehecheyanu. Josh said, "It's a red-letter day! May 23rd, mark the calendar!"

May 23, 2009. The 30th anniversary of my mother's death. Delma Elizabeth, for whom our own little Delma is named. It was a very bittersweet moment when I realized what day it was and what it meant.

Delly is finally figuring out what the relationships are in our family, that her grandparents are also Josh's and my parents. She likes to ask us about it. She and I were talking about it in the car one afternoon last week, and I was quizzing her. I asked, "Who is my daddy?" "Opi!" Then she paused and asked for the first time, "Who's your mom?"

It knocked the wind out of me, though I've been waiting for that question for some time now. It took me a moment to recover, and Delma was staring at me in the rearview mirror. Finally I answered, "My mom died."

"Why she died?" She was watching me like a hawk.

"I don't know why, honey."

The tone had become very somber, and Delma wasn't comfortable. Out of nowhere, in true Delma fashion, she started spazzing out, laughing and flailing her arms and wagging her tongue, and lightened the mood. She is most excellent at providing comic relief.

I don't know what she understands about death. She knows that flowers die and that bugs die. What that means in her squooshy little brain, and how that translates to people... Who knows. And I'm certainly not going to press the issue. But we are entering a new era, our first baby is not a baby anymore, and the questions are only going to get tougher. I just hope she always feels safe enough to ask.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

baby blanket

Here's an atrocious shot of a baby blanket I made last week. A friend is preggo with her second child, she has a son at home and is now expecting a girl. Is it just me or does it seem like when someone already has a son, and then they have a daughter, they go completely bonkers for the girly stuff?? I think I would. All I have to say is Thank God I had daughters, or else I'd be raising some baby trannies.



So, the blanket. Some Michael Miller Disco Dots on the front, and Minky Chemnille on the back. Such a totally simple project, but it was SUCH a bitch to make. Took three tries, because of the minky... It's slippery, so I had to pin that thing like crazy before sewing, but also the machine grabs it differently than the cotton and was pulling it all over the place. Sewing the width-wise sides was actually pretty easy, but the length-wise sides (going along with the ribbing) sucked. It was just a torturous process, and one I'm not likely to repeat anytime soon. BUT -- the finished product came out pretty cute. As long as you ignore the fact that when you fold it it's totally not squared. And also it left my house, like everything leaves my house, with a fine coating of cat hair.

And then to prove that it passes stringent approval process of the Baby Council of America for Promotion of Cuddly Items, I let Mimi have at it. And then Delly wanted in on the photo action. This resulted in exactly ZERO decent photos of the blanket, but oh well. At least it left my floor a little cleaner.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

wedding crafts

Last month my fab gal-pal Moira tied the knot. Not only were Josh, Delma, Mimi and I luck enough to attend the joyous event, but Moira also asked me to help add some hand-crafted bits.

I helped make the cupcakes, which were topped with sweet little images of vintage seed packets.


And I made two ring pillows, one for each of her sons to carry. I knocked off ideas from some that I found on Etsy... just little satin pillows with a bird's nest glued on top, some moss glued inside to fill it a bit, and some little plastic eggs glued it. And orange ribbons glued to the pillow, poking out from under the nest. OMG, the wonders of the glue gun! The one thing I did which worked out very well and I'm pleased with myself for figuring out, was to sew a button to the middle of the pillow -- to squoosh the middle in and make it nice and sturdy and flat for the nest to sit on. They came out quite cute, if'n I do say so myself!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

yet another blog to read

Thanks to Christina, I have a new blog to follow: What Not To Crochet.

And Rainn Wilson Tweeted yesterday about another hilarious blog: This is Photobomb.

Friday, April 24, 2009

sprung


Spring has sprung. Last fall I meant to go crazy planting tons more daffodil bulbs, but then that kid Mimi showed up and all hell broke loose and it just didn't happen. But we do have a bunch blooming out there, and this is one of my favorite places to put cut daffodils. I have 3 of these little glass vases with suction cups on them, I think I bought them in Paris in the super-hip gay part of town. I love them. By "them" I mean the little vases. Though I do very much love the daffodils and the gays too.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

switched at birth

Tonight Mimi was sitting on a blanket, happily gnawing on a toy. Delma did something that made Josh and me explode into a massive fit of laughter. Delly started laughing. After a moment we noticed a strange noise. We looked down and Mimi was bright red, sobbing, tears streaming down her face. I picked her up, but it was so absurd that it made us just laugh harder, and that made her cry harder. And Delly was imploring, "What's wrong with Mimi?!" We couldn't answer her, beyond the obvious that Mimi had been scared and confused by our loud and sudden laughter.

I know there's nothing particularly remarkable about that. But come on. In this house? We laugh A LOT. Loudly. And Delma is 2 and energetic and makes noise. And this baby is as jumpy and easily spooked as a cat. Weirdo.

Somewhere out there is a baby who smiles and laughs and wonders why she's stuck in a family full of people who always look like deer caught in the headlights. And we have that family's baby.

Prison on Mars and Venus

The other night Josh and I were watching something on TV where someone was in prison. I don't even remember what show it was. It clearly left quite an impression.

Josh said, "That's my worst nightmare." He meant jail, that the idea of being in prison was absolutely terrifying to him.

I could not relate. At all. All I could think was how awesome it sounded. You get a full night's sleep every night. Someone cooks your meals, you have time to exercise every day. People earn degrees while in prison. I could read books. I seriously think it sounds great. Aside, of course, from the fact that I couldn't see my family. But really, the sleeping and reading make it seem like a worthwhile trade-off.

And then Josh was all Hello? They rape and stab each other in prison. I guess that's true, but I can't stop thinking about what a lovely and refreshing break from reality prison would be. A girl can dream, can't she?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

To lawn, or not to lawn?

It is like feast or famine lately with my job. Some days I'm trolling around looking for work to do, and then weeks like this one come along when I am absolutely pummeled with more than I could possibly get done. But being busy makes me happy and makes me feel actually productive and involved (imagine that!) and makes me -- wait for it -- like my job very much. Just in time for my organization to announce the latest in a constant succession of realignments, in which my neck is on the chopping block. Awesome.

And what's the best thing to do when you might lose your job? Why, spend $$ of course! We desperately need a professional to turn our blob of moss, boulders and critter holes big enough to break a leg in, into an honest-to-goodness lawn that we can feel safe letting Delma play on. Plus, after I get laid off I'll have plenty of time to enjoy it.

Monday, April 13, 2009

nice news coverage

This is a nice story that ran on the front page of the New Haven Register. It's about an Iraqi family that my synagogue, Temple Beth Tikvah, is sponsoring. Very cool.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

slight improvement

Today was a marked improvement over yesterday. Delly got to stomp in some muddy puddles (a la Peppa Pig) at Chatfield Hollow. That girl digs puddles.

The minute we put the girls to bed, Josh literally walked straight from their room to the kitchen to whip us up some killer margaritas. We just sat on the couch, getting loopy and watching TV, shell-shocked after a rough couple of days.

Before I had kids I never ever ever could have even imagined that going to work on Monday morning would be a welcomed relief. Oy freaking vay.

Oh, these girls.