Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Farewell to Fall and Happy Hanukkah!

Don't let that photo fool you; I took it a couple of weeks ago, before it suddenly got COLD here in North Carolina. Jude has gotten pretty good at smiling for the camera. Isobel... not so much.
We went to Pennsylvania for Thanksgiving, where my talented and energetic sister-in-law, Nicole, made pilgrimwear for the children. Check out her post about it here. There's a really fantastic photo of Jude. And don't be fooled by the way she (generously) acts like I helped with the project. I watched. And I probably asked Isobel to hold still for the photos. So I guess that counts as helping.
I didn't have to ask Johanna and Caroline to hold still because they are wonderful models! Aren't those bonnets cute?

Here's a fun game: compare the babies. While we were in Carlisle, I tried to recreate a photo taken by a FAR superior photographer, Mike Dirle, when Isobel was about 10 months old. Jude is 9 months. Do they look alike?

Last week Isobel brought home a menorah that she painted at school. So I bought some candles, and we've been lighting it every night. I've really enjoyed learning about Hanukkah through Isobel. It is such a beautiful, joyful holiday. Here's Isobel with the menorah. We had only one candle lit (plus the shamash) since it was the first night.
And behold! Jude is moving around on his own, slowly. I took this video a few days ago, and he's actually gotten a bit faster since then. He's such a little sugarpie.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Mixin' it up.

Why can't every day be dress-up-as-Catholic-clergy day?

Jude loves him his monster hat and raises his fist in 'Baby Power!" That's what he wore to church on Halloween. Yep, we like to mix it up. Sock monkey makes no apologies.
Isobel wore her lion costume, which you can check out here if you missed it. She was too busy running around in a sugar-induced frenzy to have her picture taken on Halloween, so here's a photo of her at the fantastic Children's Museum in Raleigh.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


I love everything about Fall, but pumpkins are sort of the physical embodiment of that love. Here is what I did last night:

Yup, I made that there Glitter Pumpkin, and it is the most perfectest sparkly thing since Edward Cullen. Plus it was an easy enough project that it would be pretty difficult to screw up, even for a person such as myself. (Thank you Martha or whichever of her underlings came up with this idea!)
In other pumpkin-related news, we went to a pumpkin patch last week, the same one we went to last year. The light was perfect and we were all feeling festive, so I took lots of pictures.

On Saturday we went to the North Carolina State Fair, which was, to be honest, kind of a bust. It was hot, crowded, expensive (Brooke paid $8 for a BBQ plate that tasted terrible), and Isobel and Jude weren't old enough to enjoy much anyway. But we did see cows, goats, some amusing T-shirts for sale, and some incredible pumpkins:

I've been eating lots of pumpkin-y sweets. LOTS. And because I can't not share something that brings me so much joy, I made a google document full of recipes. I haven't tried all of them, but the ones I haven't tried yet come from friends who are very reliable sources. So here it is, the pièce de résistance:
You'll note the absence of a pumpkin pie recipe. Here's the shocking thing: I don't particularly like pumpkin pie. I know, it's strange, given my passion for pumpkin. I think it's the custard-y texture that bothers me. Another glaring omission: I don't have a recipe for Pumpkin Cheesecake! Anyone have one to share?
**Edit: Master Baker Amy shared a Pumpkin Cheesecake recipe, so I've added that and fixed the blank page 6 problem. Enjoy!**
In closing, I think this is beautiful:
(Don't laugh. I lived in Nebraska for 7 years as a kid, so corn has sentimental value.)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

In which Isobel is fêted.

That's right, folks, wee Isobel has completed her third year of life. Can you believe it? It's strange to me that she is no longer an infant, no longer a toddler, but a preschooler now. Luckily, she's the size of your average 18-month-old, so I can still scoop her up and pretend she's my little tiny baby. A lot of older children have the same urge. She gets picked up a lot, and then she says, indignantly, "Hey! I'm not a baby!"
Come to think of it, I can understand how she feels. I've always been fairly tall, but as a tween I was extremely scrawny. I had a few friends who were bigger who liked to exert their physical strength by putting me in frequent headlocks, throwing me over their shoulders, etc. Isn't that weird? I mean, these are girls we're talking about, not big tough jock boys. Maybe the way they treated me was an extension of their frustration with their own changing bodies. Anyway, it was humiliating at the time, but kinda funny in hindsight.
Moving on, here are a few photos from Isobel's birthday party: the cake, the tiger (face paint by Grandma), the friends.

It was a good time! Isobel has a great group of friends who all play together really well, and they didn't make me sorry for not planning any games. We did have a piñata (at Isobel's request) and some fantastic food, provided by Brooke's dad.
In other news, we had my friend Wendy here visiting for a week. Highlights included sushi and the North Carolina Art Museum. Regardez!

(Isobel liked rice at the sushi joint, but she wasn't particularly impressed with the museum.)
And, just to balance out this Isobel-heavy post, here is a photo of Jude's party face on during Isobel's birthday snacktime shindig at school:
Speaking of babies, I HAVE A NEW NIECE!! Her name is Amélie, and she is beautiful. Photos will be posted here sometimes soon.
One more thing that you probably already know, thanks to my shameless self-promotion on facebook and gmail: I'm now a reviewer for The Blue Bookcase! I love this book blog. So far I've reviewed Tender at the Bone and shared my Top 10 Literary Crushes, but you should really just read the whole blog because all of the writers are cool and smart.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

run, run, run, run, run

This morning I ran my very first 5K, the Women's Only Walk and Run here in Greensboro at Women's Hospital (where Jude was born just over 7 months ago! Ah, the memories). Isobel ran in the Girls' Only Mini Walk and Run, and she rocked it. She even ran an extra lap around the course, just for good measure.

Ha! That face just says "Yeah, that was fun... I guess... but what was the point?" I think the whole procedure was a little confusing to her, but she didn't mind getting a medal and a bandanna.
Jude was pretty sad for most of the morning. It was MUCH colder than I expected, for one thing, and I didn't dress him warmly enough. Plus he just didn't appreciate all the commotion and being separated from me. Poor little guy.

He perked up a bit as it got later (and hence warmer) and he took THREE naps today to recover from the ordeal.
Here I am, looking triumphant!

My primary goal was to RUN the whole time, and I did it! I ran harder than I do on my usual morning jogs, and I came in at 33 minutes 27 seconds- 384th place (out of 2,203 finishers). I had a really good time, and the best part was proud Brooke waiting for me at the end.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Brooke is back!

We were on a routine visit to the G'bo library and found out that MR MCFEELEY WOULD BE THERE!!! OMG, LOL@@@!! It was epic. Generations of kids have been inspired by this man to dress up like an old-timey deliveryman and maintain a positive attitude even in the face of insurmountable odds. Just uttering the words "Speedy Delivery" could change you from that malodorous, ordinary kid that had to eat reduced lunch, wear homemade outfits complete with knockoff sneakers and had to barter the sweets in his lunchbox for safety to a middle-aged postman reeking of self-confidence and gentility. Also he created a whole generation of kids obsessed with punctuality and impeccable grooming. He showed some old puppets from the show like Daniel Lion (pictured) and King Friday. Also he is a PA native and therefore was better looking than most people in the room. Isobel sang "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" for all.

Giada De Laurentiis showed up and helped Christina with this recipe and told her "I LOVE your hair". Then she got in to a rusty 1992 Ford Taurus and muttered something about "being late for that...uh...cooking thing...out there in the woods. With the bears." and sped away. It was weird, but the food was amazingly delicious. Pictured: Brown Butter Risotto with Lobster and Sautéed Spinach with Garlic.

Jude told another one of his "dirty diaper" jokes again here. I keep telling them they're getting old, but he thinks they are comic gold!

Greensboro Greek Festival! Now with more baklava! Christina ate 13 pieces of this stuff before convulsing on the floor like a tent revival meeting. It took 5 Greek dancers to revive her. She would later claim that eating that dessert was a life-changing experience.

Pictured are the Greek hotties. Character shoes are universally flattering.


Friday, September 17, 2010

five things I like


Bento. I may or may not have spent an inordinate amount of time making this octopus out of muenster, nori, and fake bologna (baloney bologna? Har har.) for Isobel's school snack. I blame it on Brooke, who came home from Boston last week with this book for me. So I guess I'm joining the ranks of type-A moms who can't even make a freaking snack for a preschooler without it being perfect. But you know what? Bento is so cuuuuuute! And, miracle of miracles, Isobel actually ate the octopus. So that in itself makes it worth the effort.

Haupia with fresh fruit. This is a wonderful light, cool Hawaiian dessert that I had forgotten about for the last 10 years or so. And it's super easy. (recipe from the aformentioned book)
Coconut Pudding (haupia)
4 to 6 tbsp sugar
4 to 6 tbsp cornstarch
1 (12-oz) can coconut milk
a few raspberries or other fruit
-Combine sugar and cornstarch and stir in 1 and a half cups water. Pour coconut milk into a saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar mixture, cooking and stirring constantly until thickened.
-Spoon into container or pour into a square pan and chill until firm (like Jell-O). Top with fruit.

Our back yard. I can now let Isobel disrobe before bringing out the non-washable sidewalk chalk. We can have a soundtrack to our hopscotch sessions (there's a working outlet in our back yard). And we still have highs in the 90's here, so we're making the most of it.

Seriously, So Blessed! One of the funniest, cleverest, perfectest spoofs I've ever seen in my long 27 years of life. Go there and be entertained.

Puck. A jar of this deliciousness was given to me just a few weeks before I came back to the U.S. from Kazakhstan. I loved it, and then forgot all about it. So imagine my surprise when I saw that happy little flower at Madina Market yesterday. It's like a more spreadable cream cheese. In Almaty I was told it was Russian, but the label says it's a product of Denmark. Anyway, tasty, tasty stuff.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

grapes, and other happenings

Isobel is in preschool! My oh my, where does the time go? She's being stoic here, but actually she loves, loves, loves "may shawome" and would be happy to spend all day every day there. Sometimes when I'm not giving her what she wants, she dramatically cries "I want to go back to my school!"

My latest favorite photo:

And Jude eats food now! I have a little bait-and-switch technique that I use to get him to swallow a few bites of rice cereal each day. He's more okay with the whole food in mouth idea than Isobel was, but still not particularly enthusiastic about the mush. Here he is, waiting patiently in a stylin' bib made by Anne Gish:

This last Saturday was mercifully cool and not humid, so to celebrate the imminent passing of Summer we went to Benjamin Vineyards,

where we picked two pounds of these beauties:

I had heard that wine grapes aren't like table grapes. Actually, I think someone told me that wine grapes are inedible, which isn't true. Brooke had eaten those two pounds of grapes by the time I returned from the E.D. Sunday night. Isobel and I politely declined. I can't abide seeds in grapes, and I think Isobel was also turned off by the thicker than usual skin. But the ripest ones do have a lovely, very sweet flavor that really is remarkably different from your run-of-the-mill grocery store grapes. Smell a glass of wine, and you'll sorta get the idea.

But even if I wasn't too interested in eating them, picking the grapes was a pretty cool experience. They're so aesthetically pleasing. This particular orchard had black, red, and golden varieties, and we gathered an assortment.
In lieu of grapes, Jude got his first taste of apple that evening:

Mmmm, fruit. Definitely a bigger hit than yucky mushy rice cereal, and I can't blame him.