April 30, 2014



This week he: ate pancakes for one dinner and two breakfasts (thanks daddy) / started jumping over all the thresholds in the house more often than not / climbed on the rocks and fences at drumlin farms / rode in daddy's car  / went to the model railroad show at mit / had very few tantrums and even proclaimed several times how happy he was.

This week she: started scooting backwards on her belly and (maybe) really trying to crawl / used her now two teeth to bite mama a couple times and then laughed herself silly / rolled off the bed (oops!) / rode in daddy's car / took a shower with daddy and seemed to enjoy it more than the bath / did better with sleeping after we let her cry for a few short intervals, it was not easy!

April 29, 2014

One on One

*mama-baby alone time

*daddy-baby alone time

There are few things in this world more intoxicating than a baby. We don't have much time to slow down and drink in all the rolls and giggles with an energetic toddler in constant orbit, so we both make a point to steal her away for some dedicated snuggles and toe nibbles whenever possible. Eight months has to be some kind of magic, I could eat her up!

April 27, 2014

Fiddlehead Risotto

If you have been following my recipes for any length of time, surely you are thinking, 'she's doing another risotto?'. Oh yes... I can, I will, and I did! 

We lucked out and smuggled a generous collection of fiddleheads home from my aunt's Easter fixings. I love fiddleheads, which truly taste like spring, but I actually don't have a ton of experience cooking them. After browsing the internet for some recipes and reading the third warning about proper cooking and storage to prevent foodborne illness, I decided to be cautious and make certain mine were good and cooked, especially since they were a few days old and I was serving them to my three year old. Risotto is always a safe bet to please all the eater's in our house, and the richness of the cheese proved the perfect compliment to the grassy fiddleheads. 

Little Smith was quite taken with the spiral form of these baby fern fronds, and it was difficult to wrestle them away to get cooking. We ended up pairing them with some edamame (also left over from Easter), but peas would be equally delicious and verdant. If you don't have fiddleheads, asparagus has a similar bright flavor. My basic risotto recipe tends to stay the same, so improvise at will.

Fiddlehead Risotto:
  • 1 qt vegetable stock
  • 4 tbs butter
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 c risotto rice
  • 1/2 c white wine
  • grated zest of one small lemon
  • 3/4 lb fiddleheads
  • 16 oz shelled edamame (frozen is fine or use peas)
  • 1 1/2 c grated parmesan cheese (plus more to garnish)
  • handful of minced italian parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste 
{Prepare the fiddleheads by submerging them in a bowl of cold water, removing the brown foil bits and trimming the ends. I decided to steam mine in advance (again, paranoid after reading about illness and with my toddler eating them), but honestly I think they would be fine added earlier in the cooking process directly to the risotto raw, which is how I use asparagus in this dish.

If steaming the fiddleheads, bring a few inches of water to a boil in a large pot fitted with a steaming basket and steam for about three minutes until just tender.}

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

Heat a large heavy bottomed pan over medium heat and add butter and olive oil. Add onion and garlic and continue to cook for about three minutes, until translucent. 

Add the rice and stir for about a minute. Add the wine and stir until the liquid is absorbed. Add the lemon zest. Add one ladle of vegetable stock and stir until the liquid is absorbed. (If you are not pre-steaming the fiddleheads, add them now). Repeat this process, adding the stock a ladle at a time and stirring for 10 minutes.

Add the edamame and continue to add stock one ladle at a time for about 4 minutes, add the steamed fiddleheads and cook another 4 minutes adding stock until the rice is tender.

Add one final ladle of stock, the parsley, cheese, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Remove from heat and let sit covered for about 5 minutes.

Spoon into bowls and top with ribbons of fresh parmesan.

Little Smith was slightly hesitant about these coiled green 'slinkies' in his rice, but once I coaxed him into giving them a try, he relaxed and enjoyed the meal. And I do know that it's slightly unusual for a three year old to eat risotto with his hands, but that is just how he rolls these days... I pick my battles. I snapped these photos over my own bowl during our candlelit lunch, which has become our little rainy day indulgence this spring.

I'm hoping to get my hands on a few more fiddleheads before this fleeting season ends, I'd like to try them simply sauteed and served with some eggs or in a wrap... if I get the chance I will report back on my favorite preparation. I'm getting so excited for all the fresh produce on the horizon, I can hardly wait!

April 24, 2014

A Children's Easter

*to do: boil eggs, snack, cut LS's hair, color first batch of eggs, shop for dress clothes, lunch, throw together coffee cake (which will be ignored as gluten has become evil), color second batch of eggs, dinner, baths and bed, find tights without hole, find dress that zips, wrap gifts,  james to switch car seats, pack and pack and pack... breakfast, shower, pack more, james to load car, sew sleeves on baby's dress, extra food for cat, pick up flowers and diapers, sit in traffic, dispense snacks, sing songs....

... deep breath. give hugs, unload, share laughs, eat good food, enjoy the sweet faces we've missed, take long walks, visit with goats, hide eggs, rise before dawn, and hope the cute kids and bubbles and beautiful scenery and full bellies are enough to distract everyone from how tired these two parents are. (there is a reason we are not pictured!).

My aunt never disappoints with her amazing hospitality, she throws a mean party and our family table always numbers over thirty. Not only did she feed us delicious meal after meal, but she even rearranged the bedroom for Little Smith and Baby Roo so that there was a bed with big boy rails and a crib, just as cozy as could be... not that they slept of course! We are endlessly grateful to have such a wonderful and loving family to enjoy the holiday with, and hurray for cousins, too cute.

April 22, 2014



This week he: got a haircut, colored easter eggs, and got a new tie all in one day / loved hanging out with his cousins and running around outside / was really excited by the lollipops and chocolate in his easter basket / fell on his beloved train and cut his lip and gums / drove the golf cart with uncle steve / got a brand new car seat for a very big boy

This week she: impressed the whole family with her charms / kept mom and pop up all night so that we did not impress the whole family with our charms ;) / enjoyed her first taste of real spring weather and sunshine / started scooting more on her belly, but still seems far from crawling / continued to be the happiest and least sleepy baby in town

*We are freshly back from a long weekend in New York, celebrating Easter with family. I'm still amazed by all the work and stuff required with traveling with two kids, but we had so much fun and loved the mild temperatures and sunshine almost as much as spending time with so many of our favorite people. I am insanely backlogged with posting in this space, so many thoughts and pictures, so little time. We'll see what I can pull off.

April 18, 2014

Little Helper: Grocery List

We try to make it a point to get Little Smith to contribute and help whenever possible, both with larger projects as well as simple daily chores. It is true that often little hands make tasks take twice as long, but I'm convinced that it's also the only way to get anything done when you are tethered to a couple of kids all day. He is generally very excited to pitch in and asks at least once a day, 'mama, can I help you?', and so I have been making extra efforts to find specific ways of engaging him in the day's work.

One of our favorite rituals has become the weekly grocery list. I take my grocery shopping seriously (some people like shoes or clothes, I like food), and that means hitting up two large chain stores plus a mix of smaller farmer's markets. It's a lot to ask from a three year old, but I have found that putting him in charge of finding a handful of items does wonders for holding his interest. I started making him his own list so he could track his groceries, and he loved it so much that over time I began to add quick drawings and now alphabet letters. 

It's so simple and quick but makes this basic chore into a much more interactive experience for Little Smith, and I suspect that we will continue to adapt these lists as his interests and learning goals change. Hopefully we will be sending him to the garden to check off a few of these items pretty soon too, but I suppose before we can pick, we do need to plant!

* You will notice the baby is doing her part to ensure a smooth shopping trip by soundly sleeping. That's the way I have been planning it for months now, and I'm really dreading the fast approaching end of the bucket car seat. I see shorter shopping excursions on the horizon, sigh.

April 17, 2014



This week he: saw lots of birds and announced 'it's spring!' / helped clean up our garden and unearthed his forgotten digger / was so excited to sleep right on the ocean and be 'blown out to sea' / climbed a giant sand mountain and got soaked in the waves / got ice cream two days in a row / helped make mini muffins for school (and ate a lot of the apple pieces in the process) / was stunned and maybe even thrilled to wake up to fresh snow, 'it's not spring!'

This week she: grew a tooth, wow! / really really really struggled with sleep (did I mention she is not the best sleeper?) / loved watching the ocean through the sliding glass door / fell asleep on daddy's shoulder while we were walking around town (she doesn't sleep well, but she sure is cute when she makes it happen) / thought about crawling... okay I made that one up, honestly I'm not so sure she wants to crawl!

April 15, 2014

Extreme Waterfront

We enjoyed a little last minute family vacation over the weekend and got our first taste of the ocean for the season. Our friends generously offered their waterfront cottage on the south shore, and I think we were all amazed by just how close we actually were to that water! It really felt as though we were out to sea, inspiring a game that had Little Smith spinning in circles giggling, 'I've been swept out to sea!' for the better part of an afternoon.

It finally has been feeling like spring here (I am not discussing the forecast for the rest of this week though), and I think the taste of warm weather got to my head because I somehow entirely overlooked a coat for Little Smith. He weathered the very windy and occasionally rainy trip in doubled up hoodies and his trusty hat, and despite an accidental beach soaking, I think he managed to stay warm enough.

I always prefer being anywhere in the off season, probably owing to my hermit tendencies, but I can't understand why anyone likes a crowd. Strolling around the sleepy streets and beaches and hearing little beyond the roar of the ocean was my perfect idea of a weekend.

This was also our first attempt at letting Little Smith sleep in a regular bed (aside from his big boy bed at home) and he did beautifully, but poor baby Roo was a mess in her travel crib and despite that amazing ocean lullaby, none of us got much sleep. The silver lining was a truly glorious sunrise, who knew that having children would give me 'the opportunity' to appreciate so many sunrises (ahem, yeah... trying to find the positive in a life wherein sleeping until 6AM feels indulgent).

The best part of the trip, aside from getting to stay closer to the ocean than I ever dreamed possible, was that it only took an hour to get home. I sometimes wonder why we have chosen this city to raise our family, it's so expensive, the winters are brutal, the people aren't always the warmest and it can be difficult to make friends... but then I drive up to New Hampshire and enjoy a great hike or sneak in a quick trip like this one to the ocean and remember how rare it is to get the benefits of city life with such proximity to nature's wonders. It's probably just the promise of spring talking, but I am feeling very lucky to be right where I am.

*and since we were in a super photogenic place, of course our camera battery died before we could get a single shot. Thank you iPhones, for always bailing out our flaky selves!

April 11, 2014

Play Porch

I used to have this recurring dream, back when we lived in a 500 square foot apartment (filled to the brim with snowboards, skis, skateboards, home canned jellies and relishes, home brewed beer, potted vegetable gardens, art and drafting supplies, a cat plus litter box, and a fish tank!). The dream was that I discovered some hidden room or extra space, it had been there the whole time but somehow I'd just never realized it was right under my nose. 

That's pretty much how I feel about our new little 'play porch', it's like magic extra space that we discovered overnight. I always knew I wanted to use this porch as a play area, but the floors were covered in moldy AstroTurf with various layers of asphalt and waterproofing paper and I just imagined whatever was under there was unusable and we'd need to put in some kind of new flooring. The access door was also in Little Smith's original nursery, and when I was pregnant with him and feeling overwhelmed with the idea of getting it together before he was born, I sealed up the door so that it would be less drafty and put the project on hold. 

Once we converted the nursery to an office last fall, I wasn't so paranoid about opening up the porch can of worms, and of course the second baby increased our need for space as well. I patiently waited for some reasonable weather to get going on this project and when I finally tore up everything that was nailed down to the floors, I was very pleasantly surprised that the original subfloor was in great condition and totally usable. We just sanded the floorboards lightly, filled some of the nail holes, and painted them with a high gloss exterior floor paint which instantly transformed the whole space.

We had a very tight budget and spent less than $250 for everything, start to finish. Much of the furniture is from Ikea, because that's what we had laying around for repurposing and what was affordable. The bench is a 'vintage' Ikea Lack shelving unit that we put on wheels (you can't see them in any of these pictures but trust me they are there, because we really do think everything is better with some wheels!). It was such a tight fit that we had to assemble it in place, stressful for a minute but it worked out perfectly. 

Little Smith is completely in love with this space. He was so excited through the whole process and really helped quite a bit. It was his idea to get all the hanging cups under the windows for him to stash his various collections (acorns, pine cones, and pumpkin stems to name a few) and he has been out there bird watching or scooting / crashing into the bean bag every morning this week. Baby Roo is pretty much happy anywhere, but she certainly enjoys watching her big brother keep busy and I'm sure in no time she will be tearing this place apart. It just makes me smile every time I come out here, and we are looking forward to doing a few planting projects on the windowsills as well. After a long and dark winter, a bright and fresh space was just what we all needed. I can already feel that this is going to be a very good summer!