April 30, 2012

Details A4.03

plants + sea-glass spring quiet afternoon blue eyes hallway clean-up dried daffodils not ready for bed

Now that May is just about here I am feeling a little behind with everything. We had so many hot days earlier in the month and such a mild winter that I have no excuse... but even so the spring has snuck up on me and I'm not quite prepared. I'm behind with the garden, with the class I'm teaching, with making plans for camping trips with friends and sending gifts to several loved ones. I'm trying not to get overwhelmed; to make lists and do as much as I can each day and just see what unfolds.

This is a wonderful season in new england and it's a joy to watch Little Smith discover the leaves on the trees and the flowers in bloom. He's so aware of his environment these days and after a rough start with and a few tortured flowers, he is finally learning to be gentle and touch with 'one finger'. I have lots of plans for a busy week but we'll also be trying to take some time to touch the flowers!

April 27, 2012

Well Worn

I never went to a school or had a job where I was required to wear a uniform, but the idea really appeals to me. I do try to have some style but I don't like to spend a lot of time considering it each day. I have favorites, pieces I wear again and again and in a way it is a kind of self imposed uniform.

Since my fantasies aren't usually about clothes (they're about housewares instead!), I don't need too many options and usually invest in a few items that might be more expensive but are higher quality and will last. My wardrobe gets tired of me way before I tire of it... and I'm very sentimental so it's always hard to part with a treasured piece.

Some people wear rain boots when it's raining. I wear mine ALL the time. I pretty much go straight from my Hunter boots into sandals. It probably isn't the best support for my feet but at least I'm always prepared for splashing in puddles or braving some mud. I'm very attached but my best pals are kind of biting the dust. The buckles are busted and now I've finally worn a hole clear through the heel which means those puddle splashes are a bit more soggy than I'd like.

So it's time for a new pair of rain boots, and for anyone else this wouldn't be a big deal but I'm a crazy person and every time I try on a new pair I feel bad for my old buddies watching from the sidelines.

Should I buy the same color? It doesn't look the same anymore and I feel like they started making them shinier and I don't know if I even like them... and anyway I think my boots are feeling bad that we're even having this conversation so really a damp heel is no big deal.

Does anybody else do this? Anyone? Yep I'm pretty sure I'm alone here but thanks for reading this love letter to my boots, maybe it will soften the blow when they finally do get the boot (ouch!).

April 26, 2012

One Hundred plus Mini Moments

housatonic river favorite brick wall shoulder lift slurping spaghetti community garden kickoff farmer's market lounging crazy bedhead devouring duckie

This is my 100th post, hurray!! I realize that's not that many (and I almost didn't notice it) but none the less I'm proud to have reached this little milestone. This is the one New Year's resolution that I've managed to keep and has been such a rewarding outlet.

It's been a great motivation to organize all the pictures I take as well as my own thoughts, but more than that I so value all of the amazing women (yeah I think you're all women- where are all the dudes?) who I have gotten to know through this experience. I love catching up on all of your lives and benefiting from your wisdom, craftiness, recipes, and general brilliance!

I don't know how I survived the first year of motherhood without this support system and creative outlet. I love this space and thanks to all of you guys (err.. ladies) for all of the inspiration and the support.

April 25, 2012

Beet Risotto

Beets; red, pink, golden... oh you pretty little tubers! As a kid  (and a vegetarian), beets were the one veggie that I couldn't stand. I'm not sure if I was intimidated by the brilliant color or the earthy flavors were too sophisticated for my little palette, but these days I really dig 'em. Little Smith likes them too so I guess he's already one step ahead of his mama.

A few summers ago we had a CSA share and were getting boatloads of beets in our boxes each week. One of the weekly newsletters included a beet risotto and since risotto is one of our staples I knew this would quickly become a favorite. Since the beets are grated you don't have to wait to roast them and as a big bonus the whole dish turns an amazing bright pink which either delights or frightens dinner guests!

Beet Risotto: {very loosely} adapted from Stillman's CSA newsletter which was adapted from Deborah Madison's "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone"
  • 2 medium beets peeled and grated
  • three handfuls of chopped or baby greens (beet, kale, chard, spinach, collard)
  • 4c vegetable stock
  • 3tbs butter
  • 2tbs olive oil
  • 1 1/2c risotto rice (I like carnaroli)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2c white wine
  • zest and juice of a lemon
  • 1 1/2c shredded parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
*note: in the summer when beets are fresh and still have their greens this is an excellent dish to make use of those. we're off season now so our beets were stored without the greens which is why I used some spinach.

Prep the onion, garlic, and greens. Peel and grate the beets. If you don't like red hands as much as I do then it might be good to wear rubber gloves or use golden beets, this is a bit messy!

Bring the vegetable stock to a boil in a small heavy bottomed pan. Reduce to a low simmer and keep simmering throughout the cooking process.

Heat the oil and butter in a large heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute a few minutes stirring until softened but not browned. 

Add the rice and saute about two minutes. Add the white wine and stir until it has been absorbed into the rice. Add the grated beets.

Add a ladle full of the vegetable stock and stir until absorbed. Reduce the heat to medium low. Continue adding stock one ladle at a time and stirring until absorbed until the rice is becoming tender, about 15-18 minutes.

Add the greens and lemon and continue to add stock for another few minutes (reserving at least one ladle full of stock) until the rice is tender. Remove from heat and add the final ladle of stock and the cheese, salt and pepper stirring until the liquid is absorbed.

Cover and let rest for a few minutes before serving topped with grated parmesan. I always like serve risotto with popovers or some crusty bread (because one carb just is never enough!).

I did serve this dish to Little Smith and I can't believe I forgot to take pictures because it was a serious crimson mess. I will confess that he may have been distracted by the joy of pushing the red rice around his white tray and ate less than usual, but at least he was quiet enough that I was able to enjoy my meal in peace.

My palms were a lovely rose for about a day and a half after grating those beets. A nice reminder of a tasty meal.

April 24, 2012


boston, ma / pinhole photograph by james smith

Big Smith is an incredible photographer. He works largely with pinhole images and often constructs his own site-specific pinhole cameras from cardboard and found materials. This photo is a favorite of mine and part of a show he put together a few years ago called Ground Speed which studied time and movement in the landscape. He is very talented, I'm a lucky girl.

April 23, 2012

This Boy

This baby boy is spinning my head with how fast he is learning, growing, and changing everyday. Every month since he was born I have found myself thinking, "it can't get any better than this... I wish I could freeze time so that I could enjoy him like this forever". Then he grows older and somehow it just keeps getting better.

He can be very serious, when he goes to his toddler class he usually hangs back and observes quietly or finds a new toy to puzzle over on his own. I see a lot of his "dada" in him. He loves a project like digging in the sandbox or sorting blocks. He'll sit patiently entertaining himself by moving cubes from one container to another and then suddenly he'll become frustrated (when he can't make the pieces fit) and will hurl the whole box across the room with an angry squeal. He does have a little temper.

I also see some of myself in him. He notices the details; a grain of dried rice wedged between two floorboards, a small stain on my shirt, one wilted leaf on a flower's stem. He can spot both "dahs" and "dawls" (dogs and balls) from miles away and always shouts and points when he sees them.

He loves to stand at the window and watch the cars drive by. Rush hour is his favorite time of day and he will climb up and down his little stool tapping on the window's glass and chattering to himself, "caar... vroom vroom... dada... the caaar". Dada only takes his car to work occasionally but watching him pull out of the driveway has apparently made a strong impression and "dada... the car... vroom" is his favorite expression.

He is obsessed with cars but anything with a wheel counts and will be enthusiastically identified as "the car!"; strollers, shopping carts, wheel barrels, bikes, skateboards, and wheelchairs all qualify. 

He is terrified by balloons and will burst into a deep cry if he gets too close to one. He looks at them recoiling with shock and confusion, almost as though he feels they are moving in a way that isn't quite natural. He also gives this look to moving and talking toys, bumblebees, and sometimes babies... but without the tears reserved solely for balloons.

At home he is not serious, he is silly and cracks himself (and anyone watching) up all the time. He dances, bending his knees and almost sitting on the ground and bobbing his head. He loves all music but especially a bouncy beat like reggae and motown. He walks around in dizzy circles laughing at the sound of his own footsteps and chases the cat everywhere she goes.

And he is so sweet and affectionate; running to my lap with a book, gently tracing my eyebrow with his little clammy fingers and giving lots of hugs. I love him more and more everyday and that sounds both impossible and corny but it is so very true.

I wish I could freeze time so that I could enjoy him like this forever. 

April 20, 2012

Run Run Run

This past Monday was Patriot's Day here in Massachusetts and also the day of the Boston Marathon. For the last few year's we've gone to watch the runners and it's always fun to see. I've had a few friends run marathons and the training and hard work that is involved amazes me, a great inspiration to set goals and follow through.

This year was even more impressive because it was crazy hot for April. We were suffering standing and watching in the shade so I can't imagine what it was like to run for hours under the sun. Those runners were struggling and sweating, but for the most part they seemed to push ahead. I would love to be able to get into that kind of a zone, it must be a fantastic feeling.

Little Smith never smiles in new situations. He is very serious and takes it all in. We think he enjoyed himself, there was pointing and he certainly was mesmerized by the parade of neon sneakers. It's exciting to watch him discover all these crazy things that the world has to offer... even if he keeps his enthusiasm to himself!

April 19, 2012


Breastfeeding in general and certainly weaning is a topic that feels very personal to me and while it's been in the forefront of my thoughts for a few months I haven't written much about it. I worry about opening the door to judgement (which I've gotten plenty of in my daily life, blissfully this community has been nothing but supportive). I also worry that other women will think I am judging them if they've made different choices than I have. Whether you never breastfed your baby at all or you did it for a week or are still doing it at two years, it's your body and your baby. I firmly believe that what is right and healthy for each family is different and those individual choices demand equal respect.

early may 2011

I did and do choose to breastfeed. It didn't come easily to me and since Little Smith was  born a month early, it didn't come easily to him either. We worked hard for months and months to get it down to a science. Looking back though, it was a deep bonding experience and evolved into a special ritual for us.

I've certainly received some negative comments about breastfeeding past the one year mark, but it feels natural to me. I don't know when I would have chosen to wean Little Smith if it was all up to me but the reality is that at sixteen months (plus a bit), he is slowly but surely weaning himself.

I know that there are those who don't think children chose to wean. I am certainly not an expert, but I can see that this kid is willfully electing to cut down on nursing and would be happy to give it up entirely if I never offered.

I do offer. For the last couple months I have offered frequently and been refused all but morning and evening. I've tried going to a quiet space and he just has no interest and clamors to get off or sits there with his face pressed against my boob hanging out and waiting for me to free him... that is some serious rejection. Now he's cutting back at night and even getting faster in the morning and my body isn't producing much milk.

Most people would wonder why I keep trying at all. It seems to be the best possible outcome that we breastfed for over a year and now have gradually weaned without tears... from him. But there are tears for me. It isn't just about him growing up or some strange need to keep nursing him, it's knowing that this particular bond that has been so much a part of our daily life is going to end forever. It's so final.

I know that Little Smith will soon be fully weaned. We might string things out for another couple of months but it's coming, faster than I really wanted or was ready for. I am already finding new ways to comfort him and put him to sleep at night. It's been a very gradual and natural transition, but change is always a struggle for me. I'm pleased that my son seems to tackle change with far more grace than his mama.

April 18, 2012

Easy Popovers

I am a carb addict and on the occasion that we do run out of bread, I like to make these super simple little popovers to compliment soups, risottos, and casseroles. I first fell in love with popovers while in college at the restaurant Judie's in Amherst, MA. If you've never had one, they are kind of bread meets custard meets muffin and are very light and delicious.

I like that there are so few ingredients which makes whipping them up last minute a cinch. They also always seem to impress so you get a lot of payoff for minimal effort. I've included a few of my favorite additions but you can customize these any way you like; herbs, cheese, spices... it's a lot of fun to test out combinations!

Popovers: I've had this recipe forever and I make them so often that now it's just memorized and I don't recall the source. If you recognize if please do let me know so I can give credit!
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 2/3 c milk
  • 2 tbs melted butter
  • 1 2/3 c flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
options: 1/4tsp each cinnamon and nutmeg plus 2tbs sugar / 1tbs finely chopped fresh dill plus lemon zest / 1/4 c grated cheddar cheese and 1/4tsp smoked paprika / 1tbs finely chopped fresh sage and cracked black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and grease very well a muffin or popover tin with butter. Make sure every surface and the tops are coated in butter, these are delicate and tough to get out if they stick- a flower and butter cooking spray will work wonders if you have one.

Beat the eggs in a medium bowl.

Beat in the milk and melted butter. Add the flour in three parts beating after each addition. Add the salt and any optional cheeses, herbs or spices that you like and beat until just smooth (a few very small lumps are fine).

Pour the batter into the greased muffin tin distributing equally in each of the cups. Place in the oven on a center rack and immediately reduce the heat to 375 degrees. I like to place an empty baking sheet on the bottom rack to catch any spillover and make clean up easier.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes until 'popped' and golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool a few minutes before sliding out of tin and allowing to cool further on a baking rack.

These are best served warm out of the oven but they do keep for a day in a covered container and can be reheated if they're a little mushy.

Little Smith goes nuts when I pull these out of the oven every time and urgently makes the sign for "more" because he wants one so bad he can't stand to let them cool. See this look of desperation before he finally gets a piece and all is right with the world.

Popovers are airy and custardy inside. I like to split them open and enjoy with a meal or spread them with jam or apple butter for breakfast. So easy and so very yummy!

April 17, 2012


ferry boat, seattle wa / august 8, 2006

For years and years (and years), my man rocked a ponytail. I was actually shocked when he cut it... I guess one ponytail is enough for this family!

April 16, 2012


We spent a beautiful Sunday afternoon at a working/ educational farm that is set up perfectly for littles to enjoy. It's only twenty minutes away and we got a membership because it's was too much fun to not visit again and again all summer long. I grew up in the country and I have a lot of conflicted feelings about raising Little Smith (pretty much) in the city. We're super lucky that Boston is a city that's surrounded by so much natural beauty; water, mountains, woods, and farms. We actually aren't quite in the city so we do have access to a lot of open space, like our community garden, and we have cars and plenty of parking so it's easy for us to escape (though Big Smith does take public transport or bike to work, go green!).

My hope is that just as I was raised in the country with a healthy dose of culture like museums and theater, we can raise Little Smith in more of the city with lots of the great outdoors. Either that or move any day now... I haven't quite decided!