Sunday, June 17, 2018

Ben's Summer Haircut

One of my friends was telling me how she cut her son's hair, and I looked at the YouTube tutorial she used and thought I could do that.  I asked Ben if he wanted his hair a little shorter before the summer heat, and then I bribed him with Minecraft time, and everything was golden.  For every minute I would spend cutting his hair, he would get a minute of Minecraft time (this is an extremely big deal to Ben: currently he only gets 30 minutes of Minecraft on Saturday and Sunday).

I took him out in the yard with the clippers my dad gave me, and set to.  I cut off his longer hair (we're still finding chunks in the grass, to Genevieve's disgust), so the clippers did not hurt so much. The haircut lasted 15 minutes - Ben was almost disappointed it wasn't longer, but I was so pleased with the results and he was ultimately pleased to have extra screen time.  Bribery is probably not a great parenting tool, but it gets great results.  It's also how I'm getting ponytails on Phoebe these days.

Ben felt so fine and sharp after his shower to wash off the hair that he put on his favorite shirt for supper.  Someone in the house dressed for dinner!  How I love that boy.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Three At Last

Phoebe was sick on her birthday and after her birthday party was rescheduled twice, we finally celebrated with grandparents.  I had baked her cake in early May and stashed it in the freezer, so finally I could pull it out and finish it up.

 It's a wacky cake (chocolate) flavored with bergamot.  So when the recipe called for hot water, I used very strong decaf Earl Grey tea!  I got the idea from my friend Jess.

Then I iced it with Italian meringue tinted pink, and served sour cherries on the side; I got the idea for the cherries from Moosewood - Mollie Katzen calls them Danish cherries, but most of us would call them cherry pie filling.  I decorated the cake with mint leaves and candied cherries (I have them to use in Grandma's Christmas bread), and I do think the effect was more Christmassy than I intended.

I used my frozen sour cherries that the girls and I picked at an orchard last year.  The whole combination was so delicious.  I've been on a kick this year to use fruit in interesting ways for desserts.  Typically, I think I would have served ice cream with this cake.  No one missed it here.

Phoebe loved her cake, loved her party, was just a total birthday champ from beginning to end. She was fascinated by "the number on my cake." She actually tried to eat it in the happy chaos after she blew it out and I was cutting the cake. And now one of her conversation starters is "the number on my cake" and "it's wax, and we don't eat wax."

I'm glad we waited until she could fully participate and appreciate her birthday. She's a kid now, not my baby - I have such mixed feelings about this passage of time.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Phoebe's Piece Bag Dress

Continuing the theme to dress Phoebe for the summer from my stash. . . I limited myself to my piece bag for this one.  It was fun! I thought at first I would do sherbet colors, but somehow, I was irresistibly drawn to Amish colors.  I call this Phoebe's Amish sundress, which is a hoot because they would never mix colors like this, wear sleeves or flounces like this; no part of this is Amish except my imagination.

Phoebe likes this dress because she can put it on so easily and it just floats around her (privately, I think the dress looks like it's wearing her, but since she's just a little kid playing, we'll let it pass).

As you can see from the photos, the dress is seeing some serious play time. This is Phoebe's new little sandbox that her daddy made her for her birthday.  She turned three while she was sick, and we had to postpone her birthday party twice, but we gave her the sandbox on her birthday.  And it brought a smile to her sick little face and she dabbled in it.  Tomorrow, finally, is the birthday party!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Back in March I Had a Birthday

I even had a celebration of my birthday!  My husband and I went to the new Trinidadian restaurant in town.  I also asked for, and got, a shelf for my cookbooks.  Thank you, dear husband!

They had been crammed in a nook above my cupboards (and some of the really tall ones are still there), but now they are easy to see and grab (if you're tall). I also see that I could add some more cookbooks to my deliberately slim collection.  I'm considering Six Seasons by Joshua McFadden or Smitten Kitchen Everyday by Deb Perelman. For now, a cookie tin and funky cookbook are holding the space. Feel free to recommend a cookbook you're loving.

I also had some time to play at my sewing machine on my birthday - that was fun.  You know how some purses these days have tassels hanging off them?  I wondered if I could make a little patchwork dangler for my purse.  I like it, although I think maybe I put too many textures on it, but oh, it was fun to take a break from pressing duties and just play.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Phoebe, Working in Her Anchor Shirt

Well, wow.  I did not mean to stop blogging 3 weeks ago.  I really did not.  It's just that someone always needs something around here and what I need takes a back seat.  Well, I need to blog.  I've got so much to tell you and show you!

Let's start with some happy photos of Phoebe in a new little shirt I made her from fabric from Laura's boxes.  It was not quite wide enough for this little shirt - I had to piece the sides.  I also used some piping from Laura's boxes on the neck and pocket and finished the hem with bias tape, although Phoebe was much too busy to stop and let me show you. 

I'm very pleased with this simple shirt.  Phoebe needs some summer clothes because my source of hand-me-downs up and moved to Canada (hi Mary Anne!).  I could buy clothes at the store, I know, but it's infinitely more fun to root through my fabric and patterns and sew for my little girl, especially since my big girl might be moving on from mom-made clothes.

Phoebe, by the way, was felled by a very nasty stomach flu after these photos were taken.  She's still not back to normal, although I think we're getting there (and let's pause and reflect on how much of my time went to that whole process - I say that by way of explanation for blog silence, not bitterness). 

It's sobering to see my sunny little bird lying in bed all day with a white face. So I'm really enjoying these photos of her working hard in her little anchor shirt.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

"Give it to Laura"

Recently, a friend's mom, Ruth, contacted me to see if I would like some boxes of vintage fabric that her mother Laura had saved over the years in a farmhouse in a northern valley. Ruth told me that when people had a scrap they didn't know what to do with, they said, "give it to Laura!"  Some of it was from Laura's mother, even. 

Laura's things were sorted through when her son took over the farmhouse, and some of the relatives wanted to throw the scraps away, but Ruth, Laura's daughter, saved the boxes. Laura considered this fabric like money in the bank, a valuable resource for making things. 

Ruth kept the boxes for years and now gave them to me because she looked at my work and thought I could appreciate the beauty and utility of vintage scraps.  I am so honored.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Breakfast Mushrooms

My family and I have parted ways over breakfast, and it's great! I had been still making breakfast for everyone every morning, a default mode left from the days when the big kids were too little to make their own.  They had started to grumble because different morning temperaments have different breakfast requirements, can I get an amen? 

It was one of these situations that happens often with growing kids where I forgot to step back and reevaluate the routine, and once I did, it seemed so obvious that we needed some tweaks! I still set Phoebe up with breakfast, but first and foremost, I please myself at breakfast time and provision everybody else.

Sometimes they want ideas, or I coax them to eat a perishable that needs to be used; sometimes I even make muffins or something and then they eat them . . . or not (I make sure the leftovers can be frozen so that food is not being wasted). The big kids and my husband really appreciate making their own choices, and I appreciate the break.

I'm on a savory breakfast kick, so I'm often making mushrooms. Simple, delicious mushrooms that make me feel like a hobbit at home eating breakfast (certainly not out on the lonesome, dangerous trail to destroy the ring - oh no, but at home in Bag End with the sun shining and the kettle humming).  

I chop a number of creminis, usually more than I think because they shrink as they fry, then I fry them in a little bacon grease over medium heat.  The trick to frying mushrooms is not to stir them too much at the beginning, but let them release their water and start to brown. 

I sprinkle them with some dried thyme, fresh pepper, and truffle salt.  I keep a small jar of truffle salt to really amplify mushroom flavor when mushrooms star in a recipe. 

When the mushrooms look nicely browned and the kitchen smells like a hobbit-hole, I turn the heat down to low and splash in a tablespoon or two of heavy cream as I stir.  The cream will sizzle and then disappear as it clings to the mushrooms. If you want creamed mushrooms, then sprinkle the mushrooms with a bit of flour before you add the cream, and add more cream to make a sauce that will thicken as you stir.  So so so so so good.  

How do you do breakfast at your house?


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