Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Getting More Involved

 The boys helped make dinner tonight.  Jack wanted to try making salad, so he picked some spinach from the garden, juiced a lemon for dressing and asked me to cut up some almonds he'd gotten out.  He ended up not really grooving on it, but I added it to the big bowl of arugula salad with lemon vinaigrette and Parmesan that Aaron and I were eating, and as it turns out the almonds were delicious.  I told Jack that I loved the combination, and he was pleased to have contributed something. 

When Matteas saw Jack juicing a lemon, he was desperate to juice something as well so Jack suggested I let him make orange juice.  Normally I get really OCD about messy kid experiments right before dinner, but I think all the sunshine today made me a little more laid back than usual so I said yes and gave Matteas a bowl.  He did his best, and I helped him squeeze the last drops of juice out of his mangled orange.  Then Jack juiced another orange and I had Matteas help me strain the pulp.  Next, we added the juice from the fruit salad I'd made the boys for lunch and topped it off with a little blood orange soda for added fizz.  The boys were so pleased with their efforts and were chatting away the whole time, Matteas' voice shaking with excitement as he hatched a brilliant plan: "Jack, you can make a salad while I make the juice, and then we can share the food and have a party!"  This was a particularly amusing plan to me because neither of the boys like salad, but I encouraged them in their communal sentiments. 

Because we were feeling fancy, we poured the juice into champagne flutes and lit candles, which I had the boys pick out at the store earlier this week.  We had a family toast, and the boys pronounced the evening the Best Dinner Ever.  I need to come up with more ways to authentically involve them in meal preparation, not just give them mushrooms and butter knives whenever they want to 'help.' 

We also planted a whole bunch of seeds before dinner, and we're going to make charts to keep track of how long it takes before they sprout.  Because everything is more official when you make a chart.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Baby Shower Cake

 I am getting around.  In a cake baking kind of way, that is.  A friend of a friend is being thrown a fancy baby shower today, and I got to make the cake.  I lost a little of my enthusiasm as I was whipping up a batch of frosting at 9 p.m. last night, knowing I would be frosting into the wee hours.  As the cake started coming together I got more and more excited, and when I was finished with the rows of tiny dots I almost woke up Aaron so he could admire it in real time.  I decided he could wait until this morning, and as a testament to my cake obsession I woke up at 7 a.m. and couldn't go back to sleep.  I never wake up at 7 a.m., or have trouble going back to sleep.  Generally speaking, 7 a.m. and I are strangers. 

I blame the flowers.  I bought some beautiful baby blue hydrangeas yesterday and congratulated myself for getting the flowers a day ahead of time, but it was warm and by the time I got them home the poor hydrangeas had wilted.  So I got up early this morning, had coffee with Aaron and then went to not one but two stores in search of suitable gilding.  Hydrangeas aren't really in season, so I got roses and gerbera daisies with some pale green (scarce)hydrangeas for accent. 
Because it's important to see these things from all angles.

Look!  Cute dots!

I love the brown centers of these daisies.

From the top.

And now I want to make myself a wedding cake.
I can sort of understand the appeal of flowers made from frosting in that the end result is an entirely edible cake, but I think real flowers are so much lovelier.  Plus it's not that much work to take a rose or two off your slice of cake before eating it.  I am now fantasizing about having my own bakery and making cupcakes that are each topped with a single baby rose, you know those tiny ones sold in three-dozen bunches?  I'd top the vanilla frosted cupcakes with a tiny red rose, and the chocolate frosted cupcakes with a pale pink rose.  Then I'd probably have to make some robin's egg colored frosted cupcakes and top them with orange roses...

Also, I finished this cake a full five hours before delivery time.  I'm getting almost professional.

Friday, May 20, 2011


Matteas helped me plant these seeds, carefully tracing his finger in the soft dirt to make a trench, mindfully sprinkling in the seeds, then gently covering them like he was tucking very small children into an earthy bed.  He is also a faithful little waterer, and as the spinach and lettuce have come leaping out of the ground he declared "Look mama!  It's because I did such good watering!"  Last night we had a salad, all the greens for which came from our own garden.  Matteas desperately wanted to help me cut the arugula, and when we came to a baby leaf he begged me not to cut it. 
He finds it easier to collect eggs, now that he understands there is no chance that any of them contain a baby chicken.  This morning we slipped on our boots and headed out to the chicken coop together, and he let out a yell of joy when he saw four brown eggs nestled among the wood chips in the milk crate we use as a nesting box.  I love that gathering eggs is something we do every single morning, but it hasn't lost its magic for Matteas.  Or me.  There is something mystical about picking up a still-warm egg in the early morning sunshine, the way the curve of it fits perfectly into the palm of your hand, the satisfying weight of it.  I love that we can get breakfast from our own back yard, literally.  We haven't bought eggs in months, we just use our own eggs when we have them and go eggless when we don't, which doesn't really happen.  We get at least three eggs every day, and during a week when the boys are interested in other things for breakfast it doesn't take long to accumulate a dozen.  And that's how we know it's time for cake.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Some Kind of Recovery

 I was talking to someone the other day and somehow, drawing came up.  Everyone who knows me is aware of my passion for food, but there are other things about me that have fallen by the wayside since having kids.  I felt a tiny prick of grief when I realized that drawing is no longer a part of my life to the extent that someone would be surprised to know that I ever did it.  And, not for the first time, I took a look at my life and asked myself, when the f*** did that happen?
 As a teenager, drawing was a way to stay sane.  Alone in my room, I could say whatever I wanted to say in a language of my choosing.  This is a drawing I did of a paperback cover for Fahrenheit 451, but for the pages of "armor" I chose my own texts and kept a running list of authors as I worked on it.  I started this when I was 17.  Eleven years ago.  When I pulled out my tablet this morning, I found an expired moth among the pages.  A place I used to go on a regular basis has become such a ghost town that living things go there to die.

Oh dear.
It took four years, but we finally finished the master bedroom.  Noticing that we had an "extra" room on our hands, I decided to jam my drafting table into it.  It was kind of a disaster and Aaron eventually came home and fixed it, but the point is that now I have an established space to get all dramatic and creative again.  I'm curious to see what will come out of me now that I'm not driven by huge amounts of teenaged angst; then again, I've got plenty of parenting angst, but somehow that particular brand feels less artsy.  Perhaps if I stop locking myself in the bathroom with chocolate, I might actually finish a drawing.