Tuesday, May 28, 2013


As far as seasonal foods go, spring might offer the best options. Rhubarb, ramps, morels, strawberries, etc... I guess it's not really reasonable to argue against summer and its bounty of fruits and vegetables, but the fact that spring offerings come and go so quickly as the weather warms makes them that much more exciting.

I don't think I could find ramps around here if I tried, and the little I know about morel hunting I'm not sure how to apply (abandoned apple orchards in suburban DC--I don't think so), but I can get rhubarb. Our little local farmers' market has had plenty o' rhubarb.



A couple of weekends ago, I made a rhubarb pie for a neighborhood party. Failed to photograph like the inexperienced blogger that I am. But, this weekend...this weekend, I made rhubarb streusel muffins and rhubarb compote (I had more rhubarb than I need for the muffins) and have the pictures to prove it.

The muffin recipe I took straight from smitten kitchen so there's no point in reprinting the it. I did double it, and I used half whole wheat and half all purpose flour as the author suggested. Oh, and I didn't have any sour cream so I substituted buttermilk. I thought I would need less since buttermilk is so much more liquid-y than sour cream, but nope--I wanted the full cup and a half. And they were a little drier than I would like. OK, but I'd make them with sour cream or yogurt next time.

Creepy reflection in the spoon

I tossed the remaining two cups of diced rhubarb in a pot on the stove with about a quarter cup of sugar and the juice of half a lemon. Then I cooked it at a simmer until it was good and soft. Then we spooned it over ice cream for our company Sunday night.

My sister-in-law enjoyed it!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real


lovely, lovely, lovely

My peonies survived! Peonies are my favorite flower. They're gorgeous and they smell divine. What's not to love? When we moved from Asheville, I knew there was no way I wasn't taking my peonies with me. A friend helped me dig about half of them up, and I called a nursery to discover how I should let them weather the winter above ground (in cardboard boxes covered in peat moss, if you're interested).

Well, it took us much longer than expected to find our new home, but you better believe I got those sprouted roots in the ground as soon as possible. Now I am pleased to report every single one of them survived, and I am even getting blooms on two of them this spring. Couldn't be happier. And speaking of...


Our little 14 month old decided he was ready to take a few steps this weekend with the lure of his cousin's phone.

I've been watching with bated breath and greeted this milestone with great happiness. He still prefers to crawl, and his technique is a nice segue to "funny."




Does anyone else read "Momastery"? I can't recommend it highly enough. Blogs don't get much more "real" than hers, and the strength, compassion, and humor she shares sometimes rub off on me just a little. Or, I hope they will.

I think this "mom-query" post accurately portrays her approach to life. And I love, love, love this one and this one. She's not always so controversial, though. Try this one just for laughs.

Monday, May 20, 2013

House Guests

We welcomed our first house guests to our new home this weekend. My brother and niece visited Thursday night through Monday evening, and we took in the town. We metroed, museumed, and monumented all over downtown DC in the company of Karly's college boyfriend who lives in the area. And in the evenings we ate well and played countless games of Ticket To Ride and Dominion. I had my hiney handed to me repeatedly at Dominion, but I held my own in Ticket To Ride. And I have some fabulous new recipes to share on this blog. Someday.

Linked up at Atelier.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real


This dress: gorgeous, isn't it? And the wearer, so proud.


I have a bad habit of taking on projects and then becoming very grumpy and driven until they're complete. Yes, I am a J. I got it in my head that I would make a playhouse out of the two remaining wardrobe boxes left from our move. On Mother's Day. A fun idea, right?

I think there was some fun in between the 20 times I had to retrieve the scissors from Leo, but I'm just not the most patient mother during the during. The playhouse is actually a great deal fancier now with rainbow duct tape (made me think of Project Runway), some shelf liner I found for free at a yard sale, and Maggie's painting skills. Some day it might even get a roof!

Good times


Leo and I chaperoned Maggie's class's field trip to a farm/petting zoo last week. I've never been to a petting zoo this large or one with this variety of tame animals. Maggie, like me, was a little hesitant near the larger creatures, but Leo couldn't care less.

Intrepid cow climber
Very small and very large



Sigh. After a long day of meal-preparing, ball-tossing, tricycle-guiding, errand-running, dish-doing, driveway-sweeping, floor-scrubbing after shattering an entire bottle of marinara sauce on it, and bedtime-routine-leading, the best thing I can do for myself is sit down with a beer and a magazine and be by myself for awhile. So glad the weather cooperated.

Linked up at Like Mother, Like Daughter.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Unpaid IKEA Ad

If there is one thing I can do well ("I flatter myself..."), it is make the most of the space given. This skill has come in handy in many a tiny closet or classroom, and now in this new house, the kitchen.

"Ancient" is hardly an overstatement to describe the stove. And the appliance repairman  (one burner is already out) didn't even recognize the brand name.

We really love this new house. I appreciate it more and more the longer we live in it, but the kitchen...the kitchen is plain miserable. Why anyone would build a kitchen this tiny is beyond me. The only advantages are the cabinets that reach the ceiling and how quickly you can clean the floor.

I have worked hard to make this kitchen manageable. We only found one refrigerator that fit the space (that is, one under $1500). And I have fallen in love with IKEA storage solutions. Previous to living here in the DC area, I had never set foot in an IKEA. And, I can't say I love what it has to offer as much as I was led to believe I would. Except for the storage solutions.

My very favorite item is the Bygel rail. You can buy all sorts of storage items to hang from it with S hooks like the wire basket or the cutlery caddy. Not one of these items exceeds $3.99. As you can see from the photos above, I have made great use of the aforementioned items. And here's a handy-dandy photo collage (I learned!) for more detail. My goal was to get as much off the limited counter space as possible.

One functioning drawer in the kitchen means lots of cutlery caddies.

I might as well add the following photos to this unpaid advertisement for IKEA. I also used the Bygel rail in my closet (which, ironically, is quite roomy) to hold necklaces and belts. Before you roll your eyes as my astonishing collection of belts, take a minute to admire how I repurposed my old shower curtain rings, and how the belts are grouped by color. I get immense pleasure from this end result.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real

Trying a new link-up today. I like this one because it's so open. The host blog, Like Mother, Like Daughter (great name, huh?), uses this theme to "capture the contentment of everyday life." Each participant posts a picture (or pictures) to represent each of the four adjectives in the title. So here goes:


Happy Mother's Day to me a few days early! I ran across a display of air plants at the mall after making some Target returns (it turns out the zipper on Maggie's raincoat wasn't broken after all), and decided these were exactly what I wanted for Mother's Day. And there was no real point in sending Brian when I could just purchase them myself and pick out the very ones I wanted. I hung them in the dining room windows today, and I am oh, so delighted.

 Of course, I promptly forgot the names of the plants, but they both flower and then produce babies, which just increases their bulk (unless I pinch them off to make new balls). They need to be misted a few times a week or taken down and dunked (soaked in this one's case) in a sink full of water. Low maintenance and frighteningly pretty!

And a bonus pretty is this necklace I received from Maggie today!


Poor Leo's been on the receiving end of some serious blog neglect lately. I always say Leo was born happy, and he is an extremely good-natured fella, but teething is teething, and Leo's had it bad. A few nights ago I discovered two upper bicuspids way back in his mouth that he cut when he only had his four front teeth. Leo says, "Bring on the steak!"
A little Daddy love this morning. Brian is actually wearing shorts.

Leo is loving this walker these days. It's kind of difficult to use indoors since it's pretty heavy and has to be steered around furniture. I finally had the idea to bring it outside this morning where he can practice walking on sidewalks. He had a ball but found his shoes kind of hard to adjust to.


What are handcuffs?

This one was taken in the police car at the truck touch. I guess they do look like glasses.

By Brian Doyle, the editor of Portland Magazine at the University of Portland in Oregon
Love, love, love this poem. I clipped it from the literary magazine The Sun that we subscribe to. I like a lot of the literature in The Sun, but this is only item I've ever clipped. I used to keep it on my bulletin board in my classroom, but now it's on my bulletin board in our home office/craft room. My family has gone through some pretty rough stuff in the last three years, and though a poem can only do so much, I feel it exudes a tone of peace that has been helpful at times. I also am extremely comforted by this evidence that everyone has their "mountains beyond mountains." We're all trying to find the beautiful in the struggle.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Last Weekend

Tuesday night is a little late to post about last weekend, but what a weekend it was!

We kicked it off Friday afternoon with a playdate with one of Maggie's classmates at the Flower Mart at the National Cathedral. I love nearly everything about an outdoor festival. I love festival food, I love craft booths, and I can even tolerate the crowds for a little while. In spite of the variety of shows and rides available, Maggie and her friend were most interested in hanging out in the Bishops Garden, which was indeed lovely. Maggie mostly wanted to sniff flowers, and Grant wanted to watch the goldfish.

In the Bishops Garden at the National Cathedral

Because we were in the city, Brian joined us! That was a treat for Maggie but a bit of a distraction from the playdate. I managed to restrain myself from buying a funnel cake and contented myself with a pulled pork sandwich. The kids demolished two hotdogs, and we headed home.

The next morning I cajoled Brian into coming to our local farmers' market with the kids and me. It was tiny and made me homesick for Asheville and its plethora of local food options, but it did offer rhubarb so I bought a pound or so for pie. I also bought some radishes, and the vendors were quite impressed that Maggie considered these a treat.

I did have to pay to have it installed. Does anyone do this him/herself? Can I learn?
Yard sales were in full swing in our neighborhood on Saturday, and I scored several bargains: a new chandelier ($25) for the dining room (I hated the old one and it turns out we have a dimmer),

 a pair of nesting tables ($8) that I've separated into a end table and a table for the alcove in our bedroom,

and a child-sized table with two chairs (not picture unfortunately, but $10). I plan to to paint them and put them in the office/craft room. Not a bad haul, huh?

A local nursery school was sponsoring a "truck touch" Saturday so Maggie and I left Leo napping and Brian working and headed out to get friendly with some large vehicles. The event was a total hit, and I plan to keep my ears open for such events in the future. What a perfect event for small children who are so intrigued by these vehicles but are never allowed to climb in them!
in the bulldozer

honking the horn in the UPS truck

wearing a fireman's overalls and boots

Family from Boston was in town, and we had lunch with them on Saturday and brunch with them on Monday. We also attended our next door neighbors' labor party (one is a labor lawyer and one works for the Teamsters). They also have a four-year-old daughter, and within a few minutes' of our arrival, she and Maggie had disappeared off to her room and shut the door. When did that happen? I love the independence!

I brought the rhubarb pie, and it was a hit! I enjoy cooking to an extent and baking quite a lot, but there's nothing more satisfying than having an appreciative audience. One man had told his wife on the way to the party how disappointed he was that no one made pure rhubarb pies anymore. And then I had brought one! I wish I had taken a picture of it, but sadly, no. It was a pretty pie.

Our weekends are hardly ever so jampacked with fun and adventure, but this was a great one to link-up at Atelier, albeit late.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Lest I Forget: Maggie's Vocabulary

Maggie and her "microwave."
I may be especially enamored of Maggie's mispronunciations and vocabulary trial-and-error because she was late to talk. But then again, all mothers may be this crazy about their kids.

The archway over open French doors is an "overpass."

"Very" is "davy." Leo's diapers are "davy, davy stinky." Maggie wants a zipperumpazoo of her "davy own."

Pointing to the insole inside her shoe: "Mommy, bubble in it." (Arch support)

This girl doesn't get candy often!

Maggie: (shoveling jellybeans into her mouth at lightning speed)
Me: Which color is your favorite?
Maggie: (silence)
Me: Do you like one color best?
Maggie: (long pause) Mama, me just eatin' 'em.

When she was telling her daddy about her Easter egg hunting experience, she told him the eggs were filled with walnuts and pinos (tomatoes). Hmmm.

"Mama, me suitcase on."

Stethoscope, maybe?

With her "coppin shart."

And, finally, Maggie loves berries. Especially "boobabies" and "black boobabies."

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A Spring Walk

The weather has been strange this spring: beautiful and warm for a week, and then we're back in sweaters and jeans. After two days of rain, Maggie and I were eager to spend a little time outdoors so she dressed for splashing, and we went out hunting puddles.

Our new neighborhood is teeming in azaleas and, boy, are they lovely.

always disappointed in the lack of smell
This face

"Mama, me jump like kangaroo!"

Of course, we found a worm. I don't know if it's the bug study at school or what, but Maggie is not at all squeamish when it comes to worms. I love it!

Returning the worm to its natural habitat. Though I think it might not have survived Maggie's tight pinch.