September 28, 2012

Details A9.03

rolling knitting (slowest blanket ever) in afternoon light at play waiting... with a big book acrobat halloween costume in the works! food please fire dying down

We did it! I was determined to have a good week and I think we succeeded. We packed it in; made trips to the park and garden and library, crossed off car repairs and laundry from our to-do list, read and snuggled by the fire, and even managed the occasional nap- although those are still far too short for comfort. I'm also getting into the swing of teaching my class Tuesday night's and having to be coherent late into the evening, I'm so exhausted that I'm actually finally getting some sleep too which is long overdue. The cool air may also be helping.

Today it's raining and my enthusiasm for staying busy and up-beat is waning a bit, but luckily it's Friday so I kept up the steam just long enough! This week-end will be about projects around the house, getting together with some friends, and indulging in my favorite Shipyard Pumpkin beer... it's seriously the best. Happy week-end.

September 27, 2012

Simplest Lemon Mushroom Pasta

I stumbled upon this Nigella Lawson recipe in the New York times a number of years ago and it used to be one of my staples (back when I worked in an office) for those evenings when I got home late, was starving, and didn't want to really cook. I haven't made it in quite a while because our garden has been bursting with produce so every pasta dish has revolved around what's been freshly picked, but this is so ridiculously easy and delicious that I'm bringing it back into the rotation.

You will notice this post is brief, as in really really easy! I'm not sure this even qualifies as cooking since only the pasta requires heat, everything else is just prepped and mixed and we really enjoyed the spicy flavor of our raw homegrown garlic. I was expecting Little Smith to reject the tangy lemon and the texture of the mushrooms, but he surprised me by loving it and demanding seconds. I was pretty proud of that little sophisticated palette (at least for this week!).

Simplest Lemon Mushroom Pasta: from Nigella Lawson, published as "Linguine with Lemon, Garlic, and Thyme Mushrooms" in The New York Times
  • 4 c thinly sliced cremini mushrooms
  • 1/3 c extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbs kosher or sea salt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • zest and juice of one lemon
  • 4 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 lb long pasta (spaghetti, fettuccine, linguine, etc.)
  • 1/2 c chopped parsley (I didn't have parsley this time and it was actually still good)
  • freshly grated parmesan and fresh pepper to taste
Combine the lemon zest and juice, minced garlic, salt, olive oil, and thyme in a large bowl. Toss in the sliced mushrooms.

Cook the pasta in salted water, drain retaining a bit of the water and pour the hot pasta over the mushroom mixture. Toss in the parsley, pepper, and cheese and mix it all together, and you're done! Plate with some extra grated cheese and pepper.

My assistant was unusually obsessed with the lemon (it does look a lot like a little yellow ball after all- never gets old to this kid).

Little Smith and I ate ours right away warm. Big Smith enjoyed his room temperature when he got home from work with a side of sauteed chard from our garden.

Quick, flavorful, and hardly any clean-up... this pasta has it all. It's also so much fun to slurp long noodles, I certainly hope it's too early to worry about those table manners!

September 26, 2012

Just a Perfect Day

Last week was tough, nothing particularly awful but just one of those patches where I couldn't get enough sleep, enough done, and lots of little things were driving me nuts. Breaking out of a rut is always the biggest challenge for me, so I was determined to start off this Monday on a fresh note.

I pushed aside every obligation and spent the day with my favorite little pal outside, enjoying the cool fall sunshine. We went to our garden plot, picked some veggies and lay in the grass. We played on the swings, buzzed like bumblebees, and collected fallen leaves. It was a perfect day. So perfect that I couldn't stop smiling and I felt completely at peace.

Today was back to chores like waiting for car repairs and battling Red Sox traffic, but luckily I'm still riding high from my Monday... this is going to be a good week!

September 25, 2012


little me planting with my cousin / early 1980s

This snapshot is tattered and faded but it's still one of my favorites from my childhood because it's what I think a good summer looks like; dirty knees, hair all over the place, and busy! Now that this summer is officially over I've been reviewing our photos and I'm pleased to say that Little Smith did get his share of dirt this year. We didn't go on the road trip we'd hoped for, but it was my favorite summer yet, simple and perfect.

September 21, 2012

Details A9.02

morning light frittata green house visit exploring squash love chicken gazing sleeping kitty pop's breakfast special taking monkey for a ride

It's cold here! Seriously put a hat and socks on kind of chilly. I am slowly pulling out my old sweaters and pants that I haven't seen in so many months, wondering if my sandals might sneak in another day or two before they hibernate for the winter.

Little Smith is finally transitioning to a single nap, he was probably the oldest double napper out there but that schedule really did seem to suit him better. We have some classes in the morning now so it just makes sense to finally make the switch, but it's resulted in one very short nap a day instead of two decent one's and that's been a challenge. He is making up for it by sleeping in late, which means no time with pop in the morning and that isn't great either. We're trying to figure out a schedule that works for all of us, hopefully we sort it all out soon.

And now that little guy is up from his (way to brief) nap... so enjoy your week-end!

September 20, 2012

Fun Little Things: Best Brush

I don't think of myself as someone who splurges often or buys expensive things, but there's a whole category of 'stuff' where I do believe in spending more for great quality. Certain kitchen gadgets, gardening tools, a special pair of shoes... and my favorite ever hairbrush made by Mason Pearson.

I come from a long line of long haired ladies and these hairbrushes have been a staple since my childhood. I always coveted my mother's until I got my very own on my sixteenth birthday. Sadly I lost that one, but if treated properly these brushes actually can last for decades.

They are expensive, on average about $100, but somehow they do just work better. Mine glides through my unruly tangles without pulling or snagging, and when I do find myself using another brush I'm seriously shocked by the difference.

They are a nice heavy weight and come in a variety of sizes, a few colors, and with natural boar bristles, nylon, or a combination of both. Personally I love the combination, the nylon cuts trough my bedhead while the boar bristles smooth the top and prevent (too much) frizzes. I have the 'junior' size which is plenty big enough for my long and crazy hair.

After using this brush for so long, I really don't think I could ever trade it in for another. It sounds silly to be so devoted to a hairbrush, but it's good to start each day by 'spoiling' myself with something that I really love.

September 19, 2012

This Boy

This boy becomes more entertaining with each passing day. He is now quite the dancer, he points to the stereo to request music then claps and bounces and spins in circles until he wobbles with dizzies. He is working hard to learn how to jump, squatting down then throwing his arms and body up, but not quite able to get both legs off the ground. He's so pleased with himself yelling 'ump' with each effort, hysterical and adorable.

He can communicate surprisingly well with few words. He will take me by the hand, ooh-oohing as he leads me to a toy out of reach or a door left open. He uses his sign language constantly, more still topping the list and usually performed through tears as he begs for more singing at the library, more blueberries, more stories.

He does also speak, but mostly in his own made-up language. His favorite word is 'ah-dnn'. It's hard to write but it does somehow sound similar to balloon which is where it originated, (he has found new love for the once feared balloons). Ah-dnn has grown to mean anything truly wonderful, mostly those balloons and his favorite fruits.

He is trying hard to learn some real words, he's newly obsessed with the moon (mmmm) and stars (dahr) and searches the sky for them whenever we venture out, even in the daylight.

He can still be shy in new situations, but is growing much quicker to warm up. Instead of scowling suspiciously at new faces he now smiles and flirts with anyone who catches his glance.

His temper is also growing bolder. He gets mad as a hornet when it's time to clean up or leave the park which can be frustrating and embarrassing. He has learned how to throw tantrums and shakes his head 'no' at almost every request. Some days it's infuriating and other's it's just hard not to laugh.

He has impeccable balance, standing on a skateboard, chair, or the top of his rocking horse with no hands (no, he's not supposed to do that). I'm amazed by his skill and how few bonks and bruises he's gotten so far given what a monkey he is... (knocking very hard on wood!).

We are finally making some progress with holding hands and we can walk to the park, daddy grasping one hand and me with the other. He is so proud to get to walk along the sidewalk and chirps 'mama, dada, mama, dada' as we go.

It's beautiful and heart-wrenching to watch as he leaves behind the baby and  gets closer and closer to finishing up his second year. Every morning I hold him in my arms and it's as if he's grown overnight. I'm so very proud of the little boy he is becoming, serious and goofy all rolled into one. He truly sparkles and I'm grateful to share each day with him.

September 18, 2012


community garden / november 2010

This picture was taken almost two years ago, I was nearly eight months pregnant and it was just a few days before I gave birth to Little Smith. We went for a long walk through the trails at our community garden, chatted and tried to enjoy what we knew would be some of our final moments as a family of two. I was so happy, but I also felt like an enormous whale!

I'm finally getting excited for this shift in seasons, looking forward to some soon-to-be rust colored leaves and some more long walks, now with less belly and more nutty toddler antics.

September 17, 2012

Pumpkin Soup

We're plunging into fall here and I'm having a very hard time saying 'no' to pumpkins. Little Smith is pretty obsessed with them (they do look like a whole bunch of orange balls- and balls are his 'thing')... every time we go to the farmer's market he pleads for a new pumpkin and I've already given in twice. That means it's time for some pumpkin cooking! Luckily there wasn't a traumatic reaction to the pumpkin slaughter, I was a little worried.

My most classic fiasco with pumpkin soup was when I attempted to cook it in its own hollowed out shell. I made it for Big Smith's birthday and ended up with a flood of molten soup all over the kitchen counters and floor. I think that's the closest I've come to crying over a cooking mishap. Since then I like to keep it simple, and also use bowls. This is a very low maintenance soup that packs more flavor than it's few ingredients suggest.

Pumpkin Soup: adapted slightly from 'Winter Squash' by the fabulous 'Smitten Kitchen'
  • 1 medium sugar pumpkin (mine was a little over 4lbs whole)
  • 1/4 c butter, plus more for preparing pumpkin
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp thyme, minced
  • 2 tsp sage, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 5 c vegetable stock
  • 1/8 c heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds. Lay the halves on a baking sheet and rub lightly with butter. Roast until tender, about 40 minutes.

Heat a large heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Melt the butter and add the onions and garlic. Saute until softened but not browned, about ten minutes.

Add the herbs, spices and pumpkin, then add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes or until the squash is very soft.

Puree the whole mixture using an immersion blender. (This can also be done in batches in the blender, returning to the same pot- but you should allow it to cool a little first for safety).

Mix in the cream and add salt and pepper to taste. If you want to store the soup in the fridge or the freezer, do it before adding the cream which can be mixed in when reheating.

We enjoyed our soup topped with shaved parmesan and with a side of cheddar sage popovers. It's a perfect meal for a cozy fall evening.

I love these simple flavors, and so does Little Smith who used gobble this soup up even back in his spoon feeding days. The splash of cream does add a wonderful richness, but the vegan version is still tasty.

That's one pumpkin down... and I predict many more to go. Next year I think we should plant some pumpkins!