Tuesday, February 24, 2009
The boys have colds. Again. Matteas wouldn't wake up this morning, so I made the mistake of letting him sleep in. He decided to skip his afternoon nap, so he was one grumpy little bear all evening. At dinner, he made it through maybe three bites of noodles before passing out.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Aaron continued his Valentine's tradition of bringing me two bouquets, but I put them both into one vase; I couldn't really capture their majesty with my camera, in real life they're ginormous. Another Valentine's Day tradition is that, instead of going out, we have an in-home date and cook together. Aaron found every candle we owned and lit them on the table.
We made shrimp cocktail and lemon drop martinis to start. We drank the lemon drops before I got a picture, but they were perfection.This picture looks totally unappetizing I think, but it was one of the best meals we've ever made. Aaron made garlic mashed potatoes and they were the perfect consistency; the secret is a little gadget called a potato ricer, and it makes super fluffy potatoes. We also made pan-seared steak tenderloin, covered in the most delicious sauce; we caramelized an onion until it was reduced to a soft golden-sweetness, then added some beef stock and reduced it down. Then we added some cream and reduced it some more before adding a little blue cheese, salt and pepper. I'm just going to be honest and admit frankly that I'm going to toot our own horn here: it was amazing. Amazing. We also made Caesar salad, but I didn't like how any of those pictures turned out. For dessert I made creme brulee, which was nearly perfect. Nearly, because as you can tell from the picture, my brulee job had some granular troubles. I started with a too-thin layer of sugar and the custard underneath started to scramble before the sugar had properly melted, so I added some more sugar which only made things worse because then the sugar was unevenly melted. I would have used a torch, but I don't have one and the broiler is a pretty imperfect tool for this job; you can't concentrate the heat properly. Besides the grainy topping, dessert was excellent. I changed the recipe to scale it down for two and reduced the sugar a little. It took me years to figure out how to cook for two, so in the interest of helping anyone else out who doesn't want to make eight creme brulees at once, here's my recipe: Creme Brulee for Two 1/2 cup whipping cream 1/2 cup half-and-half(you can use all whipping cream if you like) 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 4 egg yolks 3 Tablespoons sugar Preheat oven to 250. Combine egg yolks and sugar in a medium-sized mixing bowl and stir gently. Do not whisk. Meanwhile, heat the cream and half-and-half to a bare simmer. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Working very slowly, gently drizzle the warm cream into the egg yolks while stirring constantly. Do not add cream all at once or the egg yolks will scramble. When combined, pour mixture through a fine mesh sieve(this step isn't absolutely necessary, but it makes it very, very smooth). Pour mixture into two 6 oz. ramekins. Place ramekins in a water bath(the water should come about half way up the ramekin) and bake for exactly 60 minutes. Remove ramekins from water bath. When cool enough to handle, press plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard and place in the fridge to cool for at least two hours. The longer you can let them cool, the better the texture. If desired, once the custard has cooled you can sprinkle each one with 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar and place under a broiler, watching very closely until the sugar has melted. Cool and serve.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
On Monday afternoon, Damien and Mousi welcomed Madeline into the world after 19 hours of drug-free labor. Mama, Daddy and Baby are all doing well and getting plenty of food; still working on sleep :)
I didn't want to have the flash go off in her face so this one's a little a grainy, but aren't her eyes so cute?!
Friday, February 6, 2009
Four years, three different home addresses, two healthy boys, one happy marriage. Yesterday was our fourth wedding anniversary, and we celebrated by going out to dinner while the boys played at Grandma and Grandpa's. Over dinner at The Met, we shared our experience of the past four years and it was interesting to see that we sometimes had very different impressions of the same experience. For example, Aaron said he has really fond memories of our first apartment, while that stage of our life together was definitely the hardest for me. Jack was a cranky newborn, always angry, always screaming, never content. I'm so relieved that he has grown into such an amazing little boy, and there are so many things that make him happy. Lately, the beach makes us all happy. We've taken advantage of every sunny day this week, heading to the beach right after school. We've hit a different beach each day, but each one is pretty much a boys' paradise; train trucks run along each one, so while we're playing in the sand and throwing rocks we get to watch a train go by.
Jack recently discovered the power of rain boots and loves to wade through the streams and tide pools while relishing the security of his dry feet.Matteas doesn't love his rain boots as much, and I recently cut the tops off to give him a little more flexibility. My attempts to keep him dry at the beach have mostly been futile, but luckily he doesn't seem to mind. I, however, do mind when he decides to run full-tilt into Puget Sound in the middle of winter. I didn't get to him quite in time the other day and he made it into the water up to his ankles before I grabbed him, and I thought the feel of the water would give him pause. No such luck; no sooner had I plucked him from the chilly water than he turned around and ran right back again, not the least bit discouraged by the cold water but very angry with his mother for ruining his fun. I admire his bravado, but I sort of wish he would develop a sense of his own limitations. Namely, the fact that he can't swim. I have to pack extra clothes for Matteas anytime we go to the beach. I was really pleased with myself for bringing the pants he's wearing because they're quilted and lined with flannel so they're extra-warm; ten seconds after I took this picture, Matteas sat down on the wet sand. I keep telling myself that if it doesn't bother him it shouldn't bother me, but I know he'd let himself get dangerously cold before he'd complain if he thought it meant leaving the beach. I'm really looking forward to summer when I can actually let him get wet for a while, and he'll be a little more stable on his feet. I've been really loving the stage the boys are in lately, which is part of the reason I haven't been blogging much; I've been too busy enjoying my kids. Back in the days of Jack's constant screaming or the early stages of my pregnancy with Matteas, when I'd lie on the couch too nauseous to move and Jack wreaked havoc on the house, I kind of figured things had to get better. Other mothers assured me that it would, but it was hard to conceive of anything different than my own personal experience. In my experience, motherhood was hard and mostly unrewarding. Rather than feeling like I was working hard at something I wanted to do, I felt like motherhood was what kept me from doing all the other things I wanted to be doing instead. I remember the feeling of impending doom while I was pregnant with Matteas; it was a really rough transition for Jack and there were many, many days when I would just show up at Briana's and ask her through my sobs how the hell she had four children and wasn't insane. Then Matteas was born, and the instant the midwife put his warm little body in my arms I was deeply impressed with his sweetness. Helping Jack through his feelings of displacement was pretty hard for the first six months or so, but then he just seemed to grow up. He became reasonable, and I found I could do things like take both boys to the grocery store by myself and shop without any incidents. Matteas is now a year and-a-half, and the boys' friendship continues to deepen. If one cries, the other(assuming they haven't caused the tears) comes running to hug and comfort the injured. They have common interests, like the beach and the library and playing with cars and trains. It's been especially rewarding to help Jack grow up, and while as an infant absolutely nothing satisfied him, there's now a long list of things we can choose from that he loves to do. He loves to cook with me, and we've been making our own alphabet cookies. We still have our cranky days, but most of the time I can identify what went wrong(not enough sleep, too much sugar, no outdoor playtime) and do better the next day. Now, instead of wishing I could do other things, I find myself turning down opportunities to go out so that I can be home with my family. Especially now that we have some rhythm to our days, I find my days with my boys satisfying and fulfilling. Some of the best days are days like the ones pictured above; I'd made dinner while Jack was at school, so after we got cold and wet at the beach we came home and had a hot dinner and warm baths. Good, good times. Thank you Aaron, love of my life, for a wonderful(albeit challenging) four years and two amazing little boys. I'm looking forward to more. Of everything.
Monday, February 2, 2009
Poor Grandpa Tom is probably suffering horrible withdrawals from the lack of grandbaby pictures, but there is an explanation. Several, in fact. First, the boys had awful colds starting about two weeks ago. Jack got it first, and on the worst day he woke us up at 4:30 in the morning to tell us that his body hurt all over and that "I hate being all sweaty." We put him in bed with us, gave him Motrin and eventually we all got a little sleep, but I've been feeling a little like I have a newborn baby what with the middle-of-the-night parenting and lack of sleep. Matteas came down with the cold about four days after Jack, and had it for longer. There were several feverish nights when even Motrin and the comfort of Mama's arms weren't very comforting. To cope, we had lots of tea parties. The weather outside was awful so we couldn't go outside anyway, but it made the feeling of being couped up worse. I had to let the boys do whatever I was doing in order to get anything done, and it was slow going. To celebrate our recent wellness, on Saturday we went on a family hike. Matteas kept putting his hand out to pet the back of Daddy's head. It was 2 1/2 miles roundtrip which isn't a big deal for me and Aaron, but I was really impressed that Jack made it the whole way. Especially because about three days earlier, I took them both on the same hike by myself. It's a great trail near our house that goes down to a lovely beach, so you get to look at different kinds of terrain. It's hikes like this that make me so glad I live in the Northwest, and convinced that I couldn't be happy living anywhere else long-term. The other reason I haven't posted in weeks is because my memory card threw a fit and refused to surrender any of its pictures. I tried and tried, but to no avail. Aaron eventually succeeded in eeking a few pictures out of it by downloading a few at at time, but there were over 1,000 pictures on the card and I wasn't prepared for that kind of time investment. This morning I left the boys with Madeleine and took the rebellious memory card to the mall, where I met a heroic man at the camera store who recovered all but three of my pictures. He did this by doing some tricky things on his own personal laptop, above and beyond the standard camera store experience. I'm going to write a letter to his manager and suggest he be given a raise, extra paid vacation, and whatever sort of gold medal they have for remarkable employees. He also gave me instructions on how to treat my memory card with more respect(it had nothing to do with how many pictures were on it) to avoid future mutinous behavior. He also pointed out that my camera's resolution was set unusually low(hmm, I wonder how that could have happened?), so all in all it was a very useful and productive experience. Kind of embarrassing considering the fact that I took photography in college, but not with this camera. So I should be posting again soon, complete with great pictures.