Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snowed In!

The sky looked ominous; CP's last day of pre-Christmas school was shaved off an hour early in anticipation of the Big Snow. Nonetheless, at 5:00 I was all geared up for my choral society's Christmas concert. Supper was in the oven, childcare arrangements were made, and my black choir dress was laid out on the bed. As I reviewed the directions over the phone for CP's brother and parents who were en route to the concert, the stunning proclamation arrived via email: the concert was canceled! They changed course for our house, ducking in out of the already-swiftly accumulating snow. Overcome with excitement, NS zipped about, talking three times too loudly. My sister-in-law's family (the Ms) from half a mile away announced their a surprise visit by pummeling the house with snowballs. Inside and outside the frosty doorway, we sang "Happy Birthday" to Grandmommy and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" to each other. After they went on their way, we cozied around the fire and turned in early.

We woke up to snowfall and all day watched it fill up the world. Shoveling was a strenuous exercise in futility, as the wind swiftly drifted and masked our paths. CP burned the brush pile in the pasture--something we'd often talked about doing in conjunction with a hot dog roast and sledding party--but the snow was too deep and fluffy for sleds, and there was no way we could get to a store for hot dogs. A walk to the compost pile through knee-high snow left me breathless.

Apart from a frightening lunchtime episode of back pain on the part of my father-in-law, the day floated on in suspense, a hush in the clamor of routine obligations. The mail did not arrive.

Evening time brought the Ms back over the 0.6 mile trail lugging baskets of turkey, gravy, stuffing, three cranberry sauces, and a stellar array of Christmas cookies and candies. After they shook the snow off, everyone gathered around the festive table for a feast including green beans, baked corn, and mashed potatoes...and, of course, another round of "Happy Birthday."

Church services were canceled. CP, Z and I got to work on the driveway. Fortunately, the neighboring farmer had plowed the lane up to our gate, so we only had to dig out a path for the cars from the house to the gate. It was a three-person job, especially given the measly tools--one smallish snow shovel, a dirt shovel, a bedraggled broom. I used my boots more than anything. Late morning we were able to get the cars out and trek over to the Ms' house to tank up on nourishing chili and luscious, homemade glazed donuts. As JJ observed, we lived fully during these snowy days!

NS rugging with Grandmommy:
Drifting made it hard to determine snow depth, but it was around two feet:
Some drifts were waist-high (on me):
Holiday feast:The birthday girl:

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Twinkle, Twinkle

Friday, December 18, 2009

NS: A November-December Gallery

Bedtime story with Papi (a.k.a. Daddy):Cookie baking with friends P and Auntie K:
Cooking cousins:
Even on the chilliest days, sometimes this is the outfit of choice:
Sunday morning family photo attempt in the backyard:
Hair styling (this occupied her for probably half an hour one evening):
Fashion show (in case you can't tell, it's a backward sleeper with a shirt for a do-rag):

Monday, December 7, 2009

When Parents Fight...

...toddlers giggle and ask for more. At least when it's a snowball fight.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Early Thankgiving

Last weekend about half of my side of the family--the regional contingent--convened at our house for a mostly traditional feast consisting of (in mostly reverse order): apple pie, pumpkin pie, cranberry salad, turkey, stuffing, gravy, baked corn and edamame (tender soybeans boiled in the shell).

Afterward we sang some Thanksgiving-themed hymns, then sat sleepily around the living room, trying to rally our creative powers for a goofy game of "two truths and a lie" which included guessing who wrote the statements. At least one of us was snoring on the floor before the game ended.

Dad, Mom, CP, NS and I had worked up a decent appetite during the day by planting Norway maples, oaks, pony tail grass and a rhododendron bush around the property. NS got to ride in the brand-spanking new blue wheelbarrow (not pictured) arguably purchased for the occasion.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Leaf Series

Thursday, October 22, 2009




Good night, garden


Maple (eastern view from front porch)


Today it may as well be summer, but a few days ago, N was getting appropriately dressed to go outside: two jackets and a coat. Not wanting to leave Buddy (the beloved stuffed gerbil/hamster/guinea pig? pilfered from Grandmommy), she tucked him into the front and off they went.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Biker-Teacher Makes It Big!

The National Milk Campaign recently got wind of CP's athletic and professional prowess and contracted him for their celebrity milk ads. Be sure to look for him among the ads in your next issue of Newsweek or U.S. News!

Snapshots from the Life of a 21-Month-Old

Broadcasting smiles:Following in her father's fashion footsteps:Multi-tasking:
Snuggling against the cold with cousin R and Grandmommy:
Always moving forward:

Apple Season

There's something irresistible about fresh apples.

Back in August I started pestering the local orchard, calling every couple of weeks to find out what they'd have and when and how much. Finally, early in September, sister-in-law A bagged some Gingergolds and Granny Smiths at the quirky S&P surplus store in town. In a joint applesauce-making day, we turned out 30 quarts of yellow sauce, trading our sugar-free ideal for an unlikely, but fuller-flavored, combo.

But that wasn't enough. I wanted to sink my teeth into those rosy fruits, so a trip to the orchard ensued. Two bushels of Jonathans promised plenty of juicy snacking and cinnamony dessert-baking. To make them last longer, I cajoled CP into an applesauce Saturday, producing 25 1/2 quarts of tangy-sweet pink sauce behind glass for the winter.

Alas, the remaining half-bushel of Jonathans are getting soft and spotty, even in the cold crisper. So I'm scouring the cookbooks for apple-anything and -everything. I stumbled on this simple, tasty Saudi Arabian dish from a vegetarian cookbook called "The World in Your Kitchen" (thanks, sister H!). It's a sort of curry, but mild and sweet. The three of us ate it all in one dinner.

Apple Bean Pot

2 Tbs. oil
1/2 onion, sliced (I used 1 small)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground allspice (I omitted, not having any on hand)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cumin
2 cooking apples , chopped small
1 1/4 c lima or butter beans, cooked (I used more) with liquid
1 tsp sugar (opt.)
salt/pepper to taste

Heat oil. Saute onion until golden.
Add spices and cook for 2 min.
Add apples and sugar. Stir to coat fruit and cook until soft.
Add beans and enough bean liquid to cover bottom of pan.
Add salt and pepper to taste and simmer 5-10 minutes.
Serve with rice or cracked wheat and yogurt.

Still I wasn't satisfied. This morning I made another orchard run and came home with one bushel of Staymans and a half-bushel of Empires, for baking and eating, respectively. If they go soft on me before mid-winter, what'll I do? Applesauce, apple snitz, and frozen apples for pie. What else?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

August Past

It's already mid-September, and I'm still in semi-denial of summer's demise. Here are a few looks at my final summer fling.

Taking an unprecedented five-day leave of absence from motherly and wifely responsibilities, I took a 15-hour road trip to attend a friend's wedding as a bridesmaid. Carpooling with two other wedding guests, I stopped for the night at sister GG's conveniently located B&B. Happily, we arrived on her birthday (we seldom are together on her birthday due to geographical barriers) and got in on the silly celebrating.

After dinner Bro-in-law M whipped out a providential "Filipino" cake replete with beach, plastic palm trees and rubber slippers (a la Hawai'i):

Sistah A licked the icing off the bottom of a slipper (which we soon discovered to be magnetic):N-boy contemplated his slice of the beach before digging in:

Some of the wedding party (official attendants) and the newly dubbed "wedding posse" (unofficial attendants) collaborated to arrange floral centerpieces. All flowers were grown by friends/acquaintances of the bride:
The bride seemed to be thrilled with her bouquet:Bridesmaids' bouquets:
The glowing almost-newly-weds:
As a bridesmaid I got a makeover and hairdo (both of which are practically foreign concepts for me):The bridal party table:
The "fruit tree" centerpiece at the reception:The bride and her wedding posse (fast friends from college days):

August Portraits

Ruby slippers model:

My whole immediate family got together for the first time in about five years (unless you count brother D's wedding day last summer):

The sibs:

The Kitty and her Manager

Here's NS at one of her favorite activities--micromanaging Bandida's provisions:

Bandida loves a ride as much as her manager. Leave the car door, trunk or window open, and you're likely to have a feline stow-away. Leave the stroller on the porch, and she's sure to take a nap in it. When CP leaves his commuter bike on the porch for even a short interval, she finds a way into the bags for a comfy snooze. She hasn't sneaked a ride all the way to school...yet.

Finger Painting

Last month I tried finger painting with NS. I made the nontoxic paint by mixing a few tablespoons of flour and water with several drops of food coloring. We used wax paper taped to the tablecloth as a canvas. The colors lacked intensity, but that could probably be remedied with a little experimentation. What captured NS' imagination more than painting was the opportunity to stir and mix liquids using little bowls and spoons.