Archive for the ‘Cooking’ Category

It’s popping up everywhere around here — evidence of sunshine and long days and lazy, happy afternoons.

It’s appearing in the form of swimming pools catching afternoon warmth on the front stones…

(And I don’t think this is actually a spot for beer bottles, but it does seem like this pool was kinda made with Mama in mind, too, no?)

…and dogs spread out in the sunshine, imagining they’re best friends so long as the deck is hot

…and pink swings hanging from the bottom deck, catching the afternoon shade that the pool is ignoring.

Even our meals are embracing summer, as tomatoes from the top deck find their way into roasted eggplant and lamb and mint meatballs.

(Kid LOVES lamb meatballs.)

Last summer was incredibly special — I was pregnant, and we were counting down the weeks before Nellie’s arrival.  This summer, magically, means even more.  It hasn’t officially begun, and already it’s spreading its warm charm around our house.


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We’re nearing the end of crazy times and starting our season of downtime.  It’s been a sprint for almost a month now, and this was our very first weekend to unwind a little.  On Friday night, I stopped at the store to pick up a few things for a nice dinner in–prosecco and berries, steaks and veggies for the grill, and a Smith Island cake (Maryland’s official–and officially delicious–dessert).  Even Nellie recognized the need to take a break–she slept through dinner for the first time Ever.

But it seems I wasn’t the only one with something up my sleeve.  Despite already receiving a beautiful glass and metal wind chime from Nellie for Mother’s Day, G had been on the search for something ‘just right’, and dinner last night was accompanied by a little box.  He gave me the most gorgeous necklace of peridot (Nellie’s birth stone) and blue topaz (G’s birthstone).  I almost dressed up this morning just so I could wear it.

~ * ~

This morning we struck out to Starbucks (obvi) and found a few yard sales along the way.  Nellie was the star of the show in her new yellow dress from Gwen.  She felt like a princess all day.

Yard sale season is so much fun around southern Maryland — there are always massive sales just off Rt 4 that beg us to pull over.  I’m looking for something specific right now for a summer project I’ve got in mind, and while I didn’t find that, I found something way more amazing: a beautiful, seafoam wooden cradle for Nellie that will replace her Rock N Play next to our bed.  Since we’re taking the RNP with us on our trip to Florida, I don’t plan to bring in the cradle until we get back, but she got to test it out this afternoon (sans mattress and sheet) in the shade of the plum tree while G made temporary space for it in the furniture showroom workshop.

When she had given the camera enough of her smiles, she tested the cradle out for a brief Nellie nap.

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A story about magic

G is at a big event tonight, so Nellie and I are on our own.   I had grand plans for the two of us tonight: a good meal, a long bath, playtime, and cuddling.

But tonight has not been ‘successful’.

The story begins a couple of weeks ago when we noticed Nellie was starting to outgrow the booster seat in her high chair.  But as anyone with kids can attest, growing out of one thing does not mean fitting in the next.  So we waited.

But last night I decided it was time, and I removed the seat.  This was only partially connected to the massive amount of food caked onto the seat from last night’s meal.

I do think at some point I had the fleeting thought that it was stupid to remove the seat the night before I’d be home alone with the monkey, but I ignored it.  I don’t like cleaning under pressure.

What I do enjoy is cajoling people and babies into loving me by making their very favorite meals, so I made Nellie hers: spaghetti with turkey meatballs in marinara.

And then I learned an important lesson: when the high chair hits her belly, as it did with the booster seat in place, the food stops at the high chair; when she’s got more room to move around in the high chair, however, so does the food.

I also learned the high chair should be pulled away from walls, furniture, and other once-clean surfaces.

That’s hardly a story, you’re thinking, and it’s true.  And I’d like to say that the marinara disaster was the worst of our night, after which we took a long bath, put on clean jammies, and snuggled together with smiles on our faces.

Here’s how the rest of our night really went down:

Disclaimer: the bottom half of this post mentions poop.  I made a vow to myself not to talk about baby poop on this blog.  And I haven’t…  previously, but there is no way to tell this story without mentioning poop.  If it bothers you, insert the word ‘magic’ wherever you see the word ‘poop’.  The story will probably be better that way anyway.

Since she was too dirty to play while I did dishes, I skipped clean-up and carried the little meatball upstairs for her bath.  While I filled the tub, she crawled around the bathroom depositing spaghetti sauce in hidden corners.  When everything was set, and her toys were ready for soapy fun, I took off her little yellow marinara-covered Fuzzibunz.

Just as I was lifting the naked, sauce-covered baby into the tub, I heard a small grunt escape her lips.  She was pooping in mid air with no diaper on.  I panicked and held her over the toilet, but apparently babies don’t like to poop while their legs are dangling.  Or while they’re near something designed specifically for that purpose.

Not sure what to do, I drudged up every bit of resourcefulness I had until the perfect solution came to me.  And while I like to give myself a pat on the back, I really only did what any other mom in my position would have done — I let the baby poop on her daddy’s towel.

Once she was done, and I had cleaned every inch of her with wipes (at which point a bath was hardly necessary), I dropped her in the tub and breathed a sigh of relief.  I dropped a few of the newly-cleaned toys back in the tub, and as she leaned forward to get her duck toy, she paused midway.  I knew what that pause meant.

Out came the baby, out went the bathwater, and we started the process all over again.

Editor’s note: I have to go to work tomorrow, but if I happened to be working from home tomorrow, I would totally consider cleaning the tub.  And the toilet and the floor.  You should get a new towel, too.

We’re finally snuggling now, and by that I mean she is splayed out on my lap — just daring me to move her — and I am typing around her.  Also, it might be my imagination, but the whole house smells like spaghetti.

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Lemon Rosemary

G got home much later than either of us wanted, but luckily dinner, cupcakes, and these beauties were still ready and waiting.  And for the record–they were delicious.

(Just make simple syrup using lemon juice instead of water, and add a few springs of rosemary while it cooks and cools.  With about one lemon left to squeeze, I remembered we had a lemon juicer.  Awesome.  Two tablespoons of syrup, two tablespoons of vodka–I used Belvedere Citroen– some ice, and seltzer water to the top.  I added some rosemary and a giant strawberry to the glass–why not, right?)

Obligatory Nellie shots:

See, it was still worth stopping by.

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It’s a wet mess outside today.  G is at work, so Nellie and I are doing our best to be productive.  We ran a couple of errands this morning, but after a few in-and-outs in the car in the rain, I bought her a toy and called it a day.  Home we went with her new toy, which she has been chewing on ever since.  With fancy lights and sounds, it is apparently just a really nice teether to her.

Since we’re stuck inside for the rest of the day, we’re doing what any girls would do.  We’re watching old movies, cleaning dirty baby laundry, making cupcakes, and playing with an abundance of shiny plastic wonders.  I even managed to paint my toenails and read a few pages of Martha Stewart while Nellie napped this afternoon.  I’m in awe–are you?

Now that we’re wide awake again, it’s time to take advantage of our energy.  Nellie is going to hit the mat for some more practice crawling–yesterday she realized she could pick up her hands and not fall over, so I am predicting big things from this little girl this week!  And I am going to make some lemon rosemary simple syrup for a batch of (hopefully) amazing cocktails to greet G when he gets home.  Just because it’s raining outside doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate with summer drinks inside!

Since it’s no fun taking pictures when our hair is wet and our play clothes are on, here are a few more pictures from yesterday’s sunnier moments and cuter clothes.

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If it makes you feel any better about my blog absence over the past week, I have been thinking about you.  Every day.  On several occasions I even started to write.  But then life got in the way.  Spring got in the way with its pushy fresh air and its incessant nagging for our time.

We’ve been busy with spring things.  Spring meals. Spring plants. Spring projects.  Spring holidays.  It’s hard to keep up with it all (and clearly I’m not!).  What’s particularly remarkable about it all is that this year I like spring a little more than I normally do.  Maybe it’s the unseasonably beautiful weather or maybe it’s the first opportunity to enjoy the outdoors with Nellie.  Either way, spring might be creeping up on my list of favorite seasons (where it previously placed a respectable fourth).

To recap: cupcakes, bunnies, plants.

I made cupcakes, and there was going to be a whole post about the bevy of springtime foods we’ve enjoyed (including some lamb scallopini the other night when K was visiting), but I’ll leave you with pictures of my lemon Easter cupcakes.

Nellie saw the big bunny himself, and this picture was going to go up yesterday on Easter itself, but, well, holidays are BUSY.

Most of the kids in line with us freaked out when they saw this bunny, but not Nellie.  She thought he was hilarious.  I realize I should have been standing right behind the camera since she looked at me the whole time.  She was saying, “Mom! This bunny is hilarious!”

And of course there is the great outdoor project which ate up most of our weekend.  As is usually the case with our projects, it started out small and now it’s got an appetite of its own.  But as G said, “We’re deep in it now!”  Indeed, there is no turning back.  We own pavers and pea gravel and every boxwood Costco got this season.  There will be wood features and slate features and elements of fire.  It’s not close to done (sadly), but it’s going to be amazing.

And of course, this weekend was Easter.  Nellie didn’t end up wearing her fancy dress (and thank goodness, because she destroyed cute outfit number one).  We went to the neighbors for their annual Easter party, we played a lot at home, we opened some fantastic Easter presents from Gramma K and Pappa Tom.  All in all, it was a pretty good holiday.  We just wish K could have stayed the whole day instead of heading back home to, yanno, pack for EGYPT.  Sheesh!

Here are some pics of Nellie opening her presents–she loves presents!

It was Nellie’s inaugural hat and sunglasses-wearing weekend, and we didn’t get a picture, but I assured G she would be living in them for the foreseeable sunny future.  Suffice it to say, she looked awesome.

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It seems almost silly to post — our St. Patty’s Day party (on the 10th of March) seems like eons ago.  But with the exception of Nellie’s worsening illness, it was actually a really fun night.  We enjoyed corned beef and cabbage (which the dogs subsequently ate while we were in the hospital), a St. Patty’s day cake (which the neighbors subsequently ate while we were in the hospital), and Irish beers (which I wish we could have had while we were in the hospital).  The house was decked out with clovers and shades of green.  I even picked up a little St. Patty’s day bling for the twins.  Nellie was in her St. Patty’s day best, but there are no pictures of her from the night — no fun taking sick baby pictures.

Here’s a refresh of her awesome outfit and the smile that was missing:

Here are some pics from our festivities — in hindsight, having the party on the 10th rather than the 17th worked out well, even if we did miss out on cake leftovers.

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