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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

It's Cold Outside

There was a little snow yesterday, and I mean a little, at least in our neighborhood. Just enough to make things sort-of white and the roads a bit slick. School was delayed two hours and canceled altogether in snowier areas. Today it's storming to beat the band, but temperatures have risen a bit and it's just wet wet wet.

The lavender shortbread recipe I got from Adriana turned out awesome. I rolled the dough into cylinders and cut it into 1/4-inch slices using my wire cheese slicer. Today I tried these New-Wave Nutmeg Cookie Logs, only using the same sliced-cylinder method and skipping the frosting. Pretty tasty, but I definitely like the shortbread texture better.

It's been a big week of change for the two younger kids in the house. Number Two started stuttering, quite severely at first, at the beginning of the week. Then, mid-week, he abruptly decided he was no longer going to take a nap (this from a kid who only the week before had been relishing a three-hour afternoon sleep). Then, Sunday, the stutter miraculously disappeared, just when I was starting to wonder if a call to his pediatrician was in order. Odd.

The bebe has been madly chewing on her hands and flailing at anything that comes into range. She also started laughing, though it still sounds a bit strained, while being tickled or led through a game of pattycake. Awesome. Last week she had a few days where she was waking up earlier on each successive day, and I was starting to get worried she'd start regressing, but since then she's resumed her not-waking-up-before-seven-am habits (after going to bed between 10 and 11 pm). Bless her heart.

Number Two loves to hold the bebe:




Last night's dinner was flank steak fajita burritos. Well, sort of. Really more of a cross between burritos and tacos, since we used the smaller size of tortillas. For the meat, I defrosted a flank steak for 24 hours in the fridge, then sliced it in half lengthwise, then into 1/8-inch slices. It is way, way easier to do this if the meat is still mostly frozen. I tossed the meat with a little chili powder and some freshly-ground cumin, then sautéed over high heat with a thinly-sliced red pepper. I heated up a can of refried black beans with some cheese for the boys and Mavis (I'm avoiding beans for the bebe's sake), and we assembled our own tarritos à table. 8-inch whole wheat tortillas, heated in a dry skillet and kept on a plate in a kitchen towel. A small Haas avocado and an heirloom tomato, cut into chunks. Fresh-ish salsa (from the refrigerated deli case, not in a jar). Sour cream. Coarsely chopped red leaf lettuce. Yum.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Rut.

I haven't been making much new for dinner lately, just going with my old winter standbys (Butternut & Bacon Risotto, Red Lentil Dal, and Moroccan Couscous, Chicken with Mole Sauce (I tried it with boneless skinless thighs and it was even better than I had hoped--it just takes longer), Spaghetti Carbonara, Chicken & Dumplings, Maple-Glazed Roast Chicken and Root Vegetables, Sausage with Pearl Couscous, and Roast Beef with Orange and Green Mashed Potatoes. Tomorrow I'm planning on a nice Kale-Leek-Bacon Quiche, with a new locally-made Brindisi cheese. I have been pretty proud of myself for planning actual meals before it gets to be 5:15 and Mavis calls to say he's heading home and I tell him to pick up takeout on his way.

The one thing I've been experimenting with a little more is baking. I made Minty Chocolate Crinkles (and found that 12 minutes on uninsulated cookie sheets was better than the 10 they recommend). Here is the recipe for the delicious Pumpkin Pie Bread Pudding with Bourbon Toffee Sauce that my sil made for the big shindig. I also made Garnet Yam Poundcake (can't find the recipe online, but it came from the paper, too), and was more than a little disappointed. I love poundcake, and would love to be able to bake it for myself, but why is it that every full-sized poundcake I've ever made was getting way too brown on the edges before the middle was close to being done? It's happened at different times and in different ovens, from different recipes. Do I need to divide the batter and cook it in smaller pans? Lower the cooking temperature? If anyone has a poundcake recipe that REALLY WORKS for baking at home, I'd love to try it.

Anyway, next on the docket is lavender shortbread like Adriana made recently. Mmm. Oh, and I'm getting around to the (award-winning!) fudge and caramels that didn't happen before Christmas. Now I'll be delivering homemade candy for Valentine's Day.

A note about toasting hazelnuts (I needed some for the Garnet Yam Poundcake)--I know I've said various things about methods in the past, but this was my most successful yet: spread nuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and pop into cold oven. Set temp for 300 degrees, and check on them after 20-30 minutes. When the skins are cracked and they're just starting to smell fragrant, pull them out. Remove skins right away by rubbing in a towel, or wait until they've cooled and rub them off with your fingers.

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Three Months Old

The bebe turned three months old this weekend, and she's still a dreamy baby. Still sleeps and eats great, and she's generally happy. At our big shindig last weekend, a friend was holding her for a while and said, "Is she always this chill?" Yeah, pretty much. She kicks her legs, waves her arms, coos (a LOT--definitely more of a talker like my side of the family, except that she doesn't interrupt!) and smiles, and she's starting to bat at things and clutch and pick at my clothing while eating.



Today I dressed her up in her utterly gorgeous and utterly impractical (cashmere blend, trimmed in hand-dyed silk!?!? It's all my fault, though, because I picked the materials) outfit made by her Auntie K. The color goes just perfectly with her eyes.





A bonus shot of sweet Number Two:



Oh, and since I mentioned the shindig, I'll give just a brief rundown: 14 lbs of slow-roasted Boston butt; 10 lbs of russets + 3 lbs of garnet yams + 1 bunch of kale + one large yellow onion made into orange and green mashed potatoes; an assortment of side dishes brought by thoughtful guests; killer pumpkin bread pudding with bourbon toffee sauce made by sil J; 28 people for dinner; four tables, including in the living room and entry hall, plus two people on the couch; $260 raised for the Sisters of the Road (next year the designated receptacle will be more clearly marked so no one forgets). The party can't keep growing the way it's been doing and still occur at my house, so I'm not sure what we'll end up doing. Limit attendance to the first x number of responders? Cull the guest list? Start offending people so they don't want to come, anyway? Change the date to a warmer time of year so we can set up the party tent in the back yard?

Oh, and because I know you want to know, my washing machine is still broken, which means all the table linens from the party are in a pile on my bedroom floor. We're supposed to have a new motor by Wednesday at the latest.

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Had Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

As I have mentioned, we drove to Utah for Christmas. Our departure was delayed by a day because Number One and I got the barfs. I know, bummer! But what was worse was that Number Two and Mavis got sick after we got there, and we managed to give the bug to my parents and various other family members, too. We're so, so sorry about that, but I think we'd have been even more sorry to miss Christmas with the fam. Here, with the exception of the first shot, taken before we left, are some pics from our trip!

So much for trying to separate the healthy (Number Two) and the sick (Number One):



Number Two continues his photography hobby/obsession (he'll be ready for lessons in film photography from MWR in a few years). We're thinking we'll give him our old 2-megapixel camera, and then maybe he'll stop wanting to fiddle with ours.





Christmas morning was lovely. With just us, my parents, and baby Sis and her husband, it was pretty quiet.











The bebe was very popular throughout our trip. Everyone wanted to hold her. Here she is worming her way well into Baby Sis's heart.



With Number Two.



With Great-Grandma F.



Another one with Great-Grandma F. My little sis says the bebe looks like a Who, and I tend to agree. It's the shock of hair, the big forehead, the slanting eyes, the small features and pointed chin.




With my dad. See the resemblance?



With Mavis's cousin (I had to include this one, because not that many people get to see her make that face in person--one of these days I'll have to take a video so you can all hear the Veloci-Baby).



One day, we invited friends over to play. Hevansrich and her family showed up for a while, and later in the day my college roommate came over with her two younger children so we could meet her ridiculously macho baby boy, born just five weeks after the bebe (Number One and her oldest are six weeks apart, and Number Two and her middle are 10 months apart). Doesn't he look a little like a comic-book villain? Or Michael Chiklis from The Shield?





New Year's Eve day, family came to play. Sis and her family arrived in late morning, and we kicked the kids out into the backyard ASAP.



Number One couldn't resist the abandoned ball.



Mr. Mini-Sis.



Number Two was not enthusiastic about getting intimate with the snow, but in his short time outside did manage to clear a bit of snow off the patio table.



At some point during the day when all three babes were awake, we caught this cute picture of the 2007 grandchild cohort and their sibling parents. Boris, on the right, was born in mid-May, making him 7.5 months old in this picture. Bright-Eyes, in the middle, was born at the end of May, and of course the bebe in mid-October. We are also the parents of the previous cohort, but at ages 2.5-3 they move a bit fast to corral them for a group shot.



Hard to believe the two boys are only 20 days apart, isn't it? To get the full effect of Boris's chub, you have to see him with his clothes off:



Awesome, eh?

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Friday, January 4, 2008

Odd.

So, we got home from Utard yesterday evening (mostly lovely trip, thanks) and discovered quite quickly that our washer was en panne (hi, MWR!). That's not what's odd. What's odd is that some time between our arrival home and Mavis's return from the laundromat this afternoon, someone entered our garage and emptied our full garbage and yard debris cans and took the full yard debris bag that was next to them. They did not, however, take the recycling, nor anything else that we can ascertain. Today was not garbage day (it's normally Tuesday, but was Wednesday this week because of the holiday).

It's definitely time to change the garage code.

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