Sunday, January 16, 2011


NS loves listening to stories, but she's also delighted to read to a rapt audience (thanks to JMB for the photo).

Monday, January 10, 2011

Soup Success

The other day I made tomato soup to go with grilled cheese sandwiches and dill pickles. To my amazement, the flour did not clump and the milk did not curdle.  For the first time...maybe ever?... I turned out a tomato soup that I would have been proud to serve to company.  It was herbed and tomatoey and creamy, without being overly rich or thick, or too watery or milky.

If you're hoping for a recipe...sorry.  There is none. In fact, I have no idea why it turned out better than usual this time.  I followed my normal pattern of sauteeing onion and lots of garlic in a little butter and oil, stirring in a few tablespoons of flour and a pinch of sugar, sprinkling oregano, basil, salt, and pepper to taste, and dumping in a quart of home-canned tomato juice to heat.  I did deviate from the standard by adding maybe a cup of leftover home-canned pasta sauce.  Then I mixed some hot tomato juice in with a several of cups of milk (1%, to be precise) in the room temperature tomato juice jar before slowly stirring it all back into the soup pot to reheat.

Do you think I can pull off the magic next time?

Epiphany 2011

At our house, we celebrated Christmas without stockings or gifts or a tree.  NS' birthday, which happens to coincide with Christmas, did involve a modest showering of presents.  Still, Epiphany (a.k.a. Three Kings Day) provided a unique opportunity--at least in theory--for everyone in the family to experience the joy of giving.  Besides, a post-holiday holiday can help ease the transition to the new year and daily routines.

On the eve of January 6 we each placed a shoe on the hearth.  Morning brought a few merry surprises.  There were watercolors for NS and homemade coupons for CP.  I, the instigator of this first annual tradition, found my lovely "mothers naturally" bookmark which NS had confiscated, then later, in a generous change of heart, instructed me to hide in my own shoe.

NS also helped me to make a tea ring with a shiny 2010 penny hidden inside.  Alas, none of us was the lucky finder of the coin.  Uncle J found it in the piece we gave him.

Friday, January 7, 2011

December 2010 Highlights: Part II

We spent the last week of 2010 with my sister and brother-in-law G&M and their children.  The 12 hour trip there would not have been too bad, except that we forgot to take most of the listening entertainment that we'd borrowed from the library, and the car made weird noises, causing us to spend the night at a motel to avoid getting stranded on the highway in freezing temps.  All's well that ends well, and we gratefully arrived at our destination the next morning. Several days and a large check later, the local mechanic ensured a smooth trip home.

We had two days of good sledding and one of great snowman-building, followed by a couple of unseasonably warm, snow-free days.  Baby nephew got his first taste of speed.  I read Sarah, Plain and Tall to my older niece and nephew.  The kids conned the adults into giving them an impromptu puppet show from behind the couch.  Baby boy charmed the socks off us all.  And we had a jolly good time.

Note: In the third-from-last picture, nephew N demonstrates the proper use of his present from Grandpa and Grandma--a set of small PVC pipes.

December 2010 Highlights: Part I

My second term of teaching intermediate English wrapped up with an amazing international potluck.  I came home with so many leftovers that we invited friends over to help us eat them.  Here's my class, minus two students.  I'm second from right; my co-teacher is second from left.  What a great bunch!

Sometimes NS likes to read "books for mommies."

We witnessed the butchering of Dad's deer. NS wondered if the meatballs were going to fall out.  She ate six pieces of venison tenderloin for supper.

NS helped Grandma make gingerbread cookies. Here's one she designed and loaded with gumdrops.  

NS cuddles with Grandmommy and her handmade, personalized blanket.

The artist in her studio:

When they came on Christmas Eve, NS read Grandma and Grandpa one of her favorite story books. They reported that some parts were verbatim.

Our present to NS for her third birthday was a set of baskets with dress-up clothes. She went straight past the firefighter, doctor, frog, and cow costumes to single out this princess dress. 

Based on her favorite Little Bear book, NS chose birthday soup and birthday cake.  She helped to make and decorate the bear-shaped chocolate cake.

By the time the whole gang of aunts, uncles and grandparents got around to dessert, NS was too tired to blow out the candles.

Next afternoon we all reconvened at Auntie A and Uncle D's house for tea, more goodies than we could do justice to, and a goofy white elephant gift exchange. Note NS' golden slippers--her other favorite item from the dress-up box.