November 30, 2012

Details A11.03

cousins birthday strut hide and seek morning rolling ball up up walking the line frozen nose taffy relaxing

We spent last week at my aunt and uncle's enjoying lots of good food and company for Thanksgiving. My aunt is the world's best host and we were a big crowd, with 26 adults at the table (every one of us family) as well as a few kids and five dogs. As you can see, the dogs were the only one's interested in joining us for pictures :)

It was wonderful to see everyone, especially my cousin's six month old baby (my niece) who has changed so much since August. Little Smith was most excited to see his seven year old cousin and  it was very sweet to watch him follow her around. I think she was sick of him by the end!

On our way home, we stopped in Connecticut to visit my grandmother who turns 99 in a few days. 99! I actually didn't realize that she was that old and I am even more impressed by her, still funny and feisty and sharp. 

Of course we did hit traffic. It never fails, and Little Smith always decides not to sleep a wink when we'd really really like him to. Many thanks for raisins (which he calls 'nut') for keeping him calm. The car seat could now use a good washing.

This week we have spent way too much time inside. I am still adjusting to these short days and haven't been strategic about taking advantage of the best of the daylight. We'll be working on some fresh air this week-end. Happy Friday!

November 29, 2012

Winter Garden Risotto

Cooking in the winter can be a challenge for me. While it's a great time to get cozy, standing by the stove and loading up on nourishing food, I like to base my meals on fresh veggies... and our garden is pretty much asleep. I cut the last of the brussel sprouts a few weeks ago and we are left with nothing but kale. Luckily we also have some preserved treasures from the summer; frozen basil paste, garlic, jarred whole tomatoes, and sundried tomatoes (those were from a friend's garden and add a wonderful depth and texture).

A creamy risotto seemed the perfect choice for this celebration of the garden, past and present. This is the third risotto that I have shared here, and there will likely be more. I love making it almost as much as eating it. I also added beans, because no meal is quite complete without them!

Winter Garden Risotto:
  • 1 qt vegetable stock (or a bit less depending on how the rice cooks)
  • 4 tbs butter
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups risotto rice
  • 1/2 c white wine
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, smashed and diced
  • 1 28 oz can of whole tomatoes (or 1 qt jar), drained -reserving 1/2 c of liquid- and coarsely chopped
  • small handfull sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 medium bunch of kale, stems trimmed and discarded and coarsely chopped
  • 16 oz cooked or canned garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • basil (I used one ice cube of frozen basil puree, but you could also use a handful of fresh or a few tsp of dried)
  • 1 1/2 c parmesan cheese, grated
  • salt and pepper to taste

Prep all of the ingredients and set aside the 1/2 c of tomato liquid from the can. 

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

Heat a large heavy bottomed pan over medium heat and add the butter and olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the rice and stir for about one minute. Add the wine and stir until liquid is absorbed. Add one ladle of vegetable stock and stir until the liquid is absorbed. Repeat this process, adding the stock a ladle at a time and stirring for 10 minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, chopped kale, garbanzo beans, 1/2 cup tomato liquid, and basil (unless it's fresh in which case add it at the end). Stir to combine and continue to add stock a ladle at a time until the rice is tender, about another 8 minutes.

Add the parmesan cheese along with one final ladle of stock. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for about 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

I was so pleased with this dish, it was just exactly the flavors I was craving, which doesn't always happen when I'm experimenting in the kitchen. Little Smith loved it too, but it's so dark now at his 5:30 dinner time that I couldn't get a satisfactory picture. I might add one later today, after we gobble up the leftovers for lunch. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

November 28, 2012

Birthday Balloons

The big birthday morning started at 5:30AM, when we reluctantly crawled out of bed to inflate balloons. James filled them and I balanced on the bed, collecting floating balloons and tying on ribbons. I think we were both hoping to go back to sleep once this chore was over, but Little Smith seemed to know it was his day and wanted to get it started early.

We collected the balloons in two giant handfuls and entered his room singing Happy Birthday. He was still half asleep and totally baffled... then completely fascinated... then utterly delighted. The kid loved it and hasn't stopped asking about the balloons (which he still calls 'ah-dn') ever since.

He didn't want to leave his birthday crib, so we let him play and watched the sunrise before turning him loose to play with his new easel (and the many other toys from family... I can't believe there is another holiday coming up).

Our celebration was pretty mellow, especially since we had driven home from New York the evening before; lunch with friends followed by a cake-ish. The truth is that I just didn't have time to make a proper cake, and I actually shed a tear or two over it. I know it seems like a stupid thing to beat myself up about, but for me the cake is the heart of a birthday and I definitely wanted to make Little Smith one every year. I just had to accept that I can't always accomplish everything I'd like to. Parenthood is slowly teaching me that lesson.

Instead we bought a fruit tart from Whole Foods, which was a hit with our fruit lover, and just enjoyed an evening by the fire with some deflating balloons. It was a very sweet welcome to the year of two!

November 27, 2012


harvest festival, stockbridge ma / october 2011
One year ago today I wrote my very first blog post. I didn't really have a sense of what this space would be, but I wanted to be more diligent about recording images and thoughts during this special time at home with my son. I was also coming to terms with that decision to stay home and still searching to make sense of it all.
I'm pretty shy and don't usually like to self-congratulate, but I am really proud of this journal. It's an amazing thing to have an archive of so many little moments that would have easily been forgotten. As any of you who keep up blogs of your own know, it takes a lot of work, lots of late nights, and making that commitment to myself that it's worth the time. I'm so happy that I have stuck with it.
The greatest surprise perk in keeping this digital journal, has been 'meeting' such a great community of inspiring women. Some of you have been here nearly every day, five days a week, watching Little Smith grow, get hair and teeth, watching me try to stumble my way through motherhood and a few recipes. In that time I have also had the pleasure of sharing in many of your daily lives, seeing your kids get bigger, getting inspiration on parenting, fashion, art, cooking, and so much more. I truly value these friendships.
Thank you all so much for following along, whether you are a fellow blogger friend, or just silently reading, I am honored that you have shared in this year with our little Smith family. Stick around and see what trouble we can find in 2013!

November 25, 2012

This Boy

This boy is two years old today, and his Birthday month has brought with it big changes. My shy little man who used to linger in doorways clinging to my leg has vanished. He now bounds into any room like a wild thing, laughing and babbling and bursting with energy.

Real words are being discovered and he's attempting new ones each day. It's exciting to actually understand his requests; 'moo ku pee' (moo cup, aka milk, please), 'uh oh mama, kaaa uh' (cat is up... on the counter, where she shouldn't be). He will also repeat words he hears from us or on the radio, my favorite so far is pickle, peekoo which sounds so adorable coming from his little mouth that I really could listen on repeat all day.

He still loves the details and is so careful with his blocks, puzzles, and little cars, studying them and humming to them quietly... then sometimes smashing them with a loud burst, just when I least expect it.

Dancing is still a favorite and he is perfecting his moves, jumping high with both feet off the ground, twisting, and spinning in circles with his arms stretched out until he is lightheaded and stumbles to the ground. He particularly enjoys bluegrass with lots of fast fiddle work and will sign for 'more' whenever the best songs come to an end.

He has discovered 'no' and uses it with reckless abandon; 'come sit for dinner'...'no!', 'would you like more broccoli?'...'noo!', 'it's bath time'... 'no, no, noooo!'. We are working to encourage 'yes', but it doesn't seem to have the same appeal. 'Can you say yes?'... 'no!'.

Families have become fascinating to him, 'Mama, Dada, and Baby'. He assigns roles to everything from blocks to scrambled eggs, big stuff is all 'dada' while smalls are 'babies'... babies are his favorite every time.

He is still so very loving and sweet; worried when one of his friends has a fall, crawling up on my lap to give 'butterfly kisses', running to greet his pop with hugs, and gently snuggling with the cat. 

It is stunning that it has taken only two years for this whole little person to develop, this engaging boy, full of character and love and lots of attitude. I can't put words to the deep joy that I feel in watching him discover more of himself everyday. 

I love you to pieces monkey. Happy Birthday sweet boy. 

November 20, 2012


very little smith's first fire / december 3. 2010

We are coming up on a second birthday! Little Smith was born on November 25th, Thanksgiving in that year. Of course this means his birthday will always be overwhelmed by the holidays, but also that he will usually be able to celebrate with lots of loved ones. 

We are traveling to New York to share some thanks with family, all my cousins are flying in from the west coast and abroad. My aunt always outdoes herself hosting, and if my count is right there will be about 25 family members at the table and usually a couple of close friends as well- good thing it's a big table!

We will also be making a stop in Connecticut to visit with my grandmother who is sharp as a tack even in her mid 90's (don't even think about getting her going on politics). Cross your fingers for us that the traffic cooperates, the driving is by far my least favorite part of our holidays and we are now officially entering the season.

We'll be home for the week-end so that Little Smith can wake up in his own crib on his birthday. I am thinking of filling his room with balloons, but I'm not sure if he'll be delighted or terrified.

Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving, I know that I have so much to be thankful for this year. I'll be back on Sunday with a few words for my little man on his birthday. Sniffle sniffle, he is growing up so fast.

November 19, 2012

Before the Snow

We pushed aside our chores and savored the last of fall with a family hike on Sunday afternoon. The smell of winter is definitely in the air, I could feel the snow on its way even on this mild day. Little Smith looked at at the bare tree branches overhead and asked again and again 'air eef go' (where did the leaves go?). I felt a little sad explaining to him that they had gone away until the spring. I do miss them. 

We walked until the sun fell behind the hills and the light faded. There just isn't enough time in these short days, between the end of naps and nightfall. When we reached the car it was dark, and as we drove home a little voice called from the back seat, 'air ssss go mama?' (where did the sun go?). I don't know buddy, I could use a little more myself.

November 15, 2012

Details A11.02

joy sunset stroll indoor safari gourds from my mother's garden the gift that keeps giving fun with hats afternoon snack family brunch movie time (rare but on this day... required!)

I need to learn my lesson, to never praise Little Smith as a good sleeper or in an easy phase because once I've put it in writing the universe conspires to prove me wrong. It has been a good week, but also full of willful challenges; tantrums, skipped naps, demands. Little Smith's language is exploding, he's particularly focused on mastering phrases designed to boss me around. 'No, is mama turn!' is a favorite when he is asked to clean up, sit and eat, or take a nap. I am so very happy that Friday has arrived and I will get some help for two whole days! We are going to a birthday party, getting geared up for heading to New York next week, and hopefully we'll fit in a bike ride or a hike. Fun- right?


And now, for an exciting break from our regularly scheduled program... the hilarious Allison honored me with a shout out and a few questions. I am not great at this kind of thing, but I will stumble my way through.

What book are you currently reading? I have always been a big reader and I am deeply embarrassed by how little I read these days in terms of actual books. I am plugging my way through a biography of Jane Goodall, but I have been at it for a while.

If eating a cockroach ensured you and your family financial security for the rest of your life would you do it? Without a doubt. Although if you asked me this question about a burger I am really not sure I could do it.

Do you have any phobias? Yes, I am afraid of mold or strange things growing where it shouldn't. When I was seven years old I left a towel wadded up behind my trunk for eight weeks of sleep-away-camp. It grew this red fungus which I naively tried to scrub away until a counselor saw me and told me it was mold and should be thrown out. I'm still haunted by the thought that I scrubbed at that mold- let's never mention it again.

If you could possess one super power, what would it be? I always wanted to be like Mary Poppins and make things fly through the air on command. I don't know if that's a super power but it would be pretty cool.

What is your favorite food? I love food so this is really hard, but if I could pick just one category it would be pizza. It's so versatile and can be topped with anything seasonal. I never ever get sick of pizza.

What do you like best about yourself? I'm determined. Once I set my mind to something I make it happen. Now if only I could set my mind on sensible goals!

Do you give homeless people money when they ask, why or why not? Yes, I usually do. My father always, always gave money to homeless people throughout my childhood. On many occasions he would take them to buy shoes or gloves or even out to a meal. He would usually stop and talk with them, and there were even a few instances where he gave out his number and helped people to find work or to seek counseling. Sometimes it was thrown back in his face, they ended up stealing or disappearing, but one man in particular really turned his life around. I do know when I hand out money it could be spent on drugs instead of food, but that's okay with me. In that moment I am telling the person that I believe in them, whether or not they hear it is up to them.

If money was not an issue and all of your basic needs were taken care of, what would you do with your life? I am truly really happy with my life right now, so I would probably just keep living it without that pesky stress of money. I would also buy an air-stream, pack up my guys and the cat, and hit the road for a year of camping and exploring.

When do you feel the most clarity? In the bath tub! I do some of my best thinking there.

There are 3 contestants, only one can win: cake, pie, or cookies? This question is insane, I'm addicted to all three. I suppose pie, I couldn't live without the possibility of apple pie topped with a slice of cheddar cheese.

Squirrels: love or hate? I actually don't have strong feelings about squirrels, I guess I love them. They are pretty cute and they keep my cat entertained. I'd really like to see a flying squirrel, those look amazing!

There you have it, more than you ever wanted to know about me. Happy week-end!