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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Vaco Taco

Guess what? I made something worth posting about that was NOT from Cook's Illustrated! I bought a small bone-in chuck roast at last week's farmers' market, and decided I wanted to make shredded beef tacos. I sliced an onion with the mandoline (on the "II" setting, about 1/8"), and sautéed it in a little canola oil in a nonstick skillet until it was soft and starting to brown. Then I added some freshly-ground cumin and some chili powder and sautéed a little longer to bloom the spices. I also rubbed some of the spices all over the meat while the onion was cooking, along with a little salt and pepper. I scraped the onion into the crock pot, added a little more oil to the pan, and browned the roast well on all sides. Then I popped it into the crock pot on top of the onion and turned the temperature to high. I added about 1/2 C of water, too, but next time I won't--the tacos were a bit drippy.

After about 5 hours, I lifted out the meat and shredded it with two forks, discarding the bone pieces and the nasty gristly parts, returning the meat to the pot with the onion. We made our tacos with whole-wheat tortillas (thank you Don Pancho), grated medium cheddar, heirloom tomato, chopped baby romaine, diced avocado, fresh salsa, sour cream, chopped cilantro, and a squeeze of lime. Yum. If I were making it for a spicy-tolerant crowd, I would add some heat, either with cayenne or fresh chiles in the sauté.



Think I could master this if I just do more yoga?


Appropriately Dignified?

So, our mayor-elect (and current city commissioner) was quoted in the paper today, in an article about making Portland even more bike-friendly than it already is. Yes, our fair city has been named most bike-friendly by multiple publications, and with high gas prices the number of bike rider is rapidly increasing. However, recently there have been a number of driver-biker conflicts reported in the news: drunk biker attacks biking-advocate driver after he chides him for blowing through a stop sign; drunk driver tries to run down biker who chided him for speeding on neighborhood streets (biker jumped on the hood and hung on for dear life for several blocks until the driver slowed enough for him to jump off safely); bike messenger and car passenger (a bike shop employee) get into a tussle (including one of them whacking the other on the head with a bike lock!) after the passenger chided the biker for not wearing a helmet.

Anyway, here's Sam's quote:
"Sorry, it's trite but true: Share the fricking road, people," he said. "And when it's hot out, understand that everyone is a little irritable."



Monday, July 14, 2008

Nine Months Old

Cindy Lou is 9 months old, though sometimes and in some ways she seems older. You look into her eyes and you just know she thinks she's at least a toddler on the inside (though she doesn't have toddler skillz). She now has six teeth. She loves water in bathtubs and baby pools, but so far (we've tried twice) public swimming pools make her very unhappy. She's started saying things, or at least making different noises to mean different things: "ma ma ma" when she's tired and wants me to nurse her; "ah!" when she sees one of her brothers and wants to get his attention; "ba ba" sometimes to say goodbye and sometimes for other things. She just started waving goodbye, and if you say, "Let's play pattycake," she'll start clapping her hands (though she's at a loss when you get to the "roooooll it" part). Finally, she no longer rolls to get around, she breaststrokes. She's getting pretty fast at it, too!


Friday, July 11, 2008

Summer Vacay: Utah II

The bulk of our second Utah stint was spent in a cabin in Midway having a reunion of my immediate family: 2 parents, 6 kids, 6 spouses, 14 grandkids. One not overly-large 5-bedroom house WITHOUT AIR CONDITIONING. Do not try this at home. :) While there were a few tense episodes between the adults, the kids got along swimmingly.

I somehow managed to catch the 2004-2005 grandkids sitting more or less still: Bud (aka Mr. Mini-Sis), Miss Pea, Captain Tornado and the Wizard (15 months separate the four of them).

The babies loved the froggy pool: George, Cindy Lou and Big. See that tongue on Cindy Lou? She sticks it out All. The. Time. (only 5 months' span)

Good thing the bigger kids didn't mind sharing their pool!

I'm including three shots of my parents with the grandkids, so you can see just how impossible it is to have everyone looking in the same direction at the same time, let alone smiling. Poor Big--it was just his turn to be unhappy about the group shot (in earlier shots, with many fewer grandchildren, it was Newton who was just having none of it).

Phew! After the reunion, we had a day to do laundry and pack everything up (plus schlep to Ogden for Mary Ellen's birthday party), then hit the road on Monday. We only had to get to Boise that day, so we had time to visit more grandmothers on our way out of town. As I said, I forgot to snap pics of the kids with Formidable Grandmother, but I did get these cute shots with Mavis's grandmother, Grandma Paris:


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Summer Vacay: Maryland

We spent our first few days in Baltimore with the kids' grandpas, the Rev. Running Nut and Grandpa Artsy Fartsy. The boys made themselves right at home. As I had previously mentioned, the Wizard's favorite book at their house was Bill Clinton's autobiography.

We attended the 91st birthday party of Mavis's grandfather, Grandpa Blue Dog. Cindy Lou is named after his mother and grandmother, so we made sure they got some good bonding time.

Mavis's mom, Grandma Rhino, was only too happy to put Cindy Lou to sleep.

Grandpa Blue Dog and the boys:

We also visited Mavis's grandparents in their 10th-floor glass-walled condo, where we got this picture of the kids with Grandma Double-Shot (small but strong!). (There were other takes where Newton had less of a puss, but this one is cuter of the other kids, and I kind of like the puss, anyway.)

The Wizard and Grandma Rhino really bonded, and he loved to follow her everywhere. She taught him a little about watercolor painting:

And helped him on the swing in Uncle Constructo's backyard (on the banks of the Rappahannock in Fredericksburg, Virginia).

Toward the end of our stay, we had a brunchy get-together with friends (I made a strata with ham, asparagus and a bit of all the cheeses Grandma Rhino had in the fridge: a little parmesan, a little cheddar-jack, and mostly this really good horseradish cheddar). A friend from a lawyer chat board brought her two kids, very close in age to the Wizard and Cindy Lou, and we got a whole passel of shots of them together.


Summer Vacay: Utah I

In our few short days in Utah at the front end (a couple of which we lost to my debilitating sinus headache), we managed to fit in an afternoon of water play chez the Laundry Queen (the babies show up most because they move the slowest):


Cross-Country Epic Journey

Well, not really. If we'd chosen to drive to Maryland, instead of flying there after driving to Utah, that would have really been epic. We'll probably end up doing that some time in the next 10 years or so. We were gone for just over three weeks, bracketing 10 days in Maryland with 4 and 6 days in Utah on the ends. I took an obscene number of photos of Cindy Lou and her boy cousins, and not nearly enough photos of the fun things the kids did in Maryland. The kids managed to see all of their great-grandparents, but I failed to take a picture of them with my grandmother, whom we'll call Grandma Battleaxe Emeritus (she's not scary any more, but she sure used to be). Or maybe I should call her Formidable Grandmother, as she was dubbed by the family of an ex-boyfriend of mine.

I'll post the pictures in three separate posts for the three parts of our journey. If you live in either of these places and we didn't see you, please forgive us--we'll try to do better next time!


Small Miracles

So, we just got back from a three+ week vacation and are trying to get back into some semblance of normality. Sleep schedules are still a bit off (including for Cindy Lou, who has started thinking it acceptable to wake up at 3 am screaming--wish me luck as I try to disabuse her of that notion), and the lawn hasn't been thoroughly de-jungled yet, but at least the house has aired out and the cleaners came today to sweep away the cobwebs. Not caught up with laundry yet, either, but then, when am I ever?

So, at about 11 this morning, I was mostly ready for the cleaners to come, Cindy Lou was napping and the Wizard had had a snack (Newton was, as usual, entertaining himself elsewhere in the house), so I decided to seize the moment and hop in the shower. When I emerged after completing my toilette, the Wizard was sitting on the toilet reading Alphabet Mystery, having removed his pajamas and diaper by himself, and having already finished his business. Wow! I think the example set by his three-year-old boy cousins (both toilet trained) at our recent family reunion has sunk in! I've been saying that pee training would begin after our vacation, and now we're back, so I guess I'd better get started! Eek.

Here he is on the couch this evening as I was going downstairs to start dinner.

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