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. :)

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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.