Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Last week the weather hovered around 85, which is particularly hot without air conditioning. But today the sky was overcast, and I wore jeans. So I during nap time, I put on my ipod and
and began chopping butternut squash.
This is a great recipe is you have a hankering for Butternut Squash Soup -- a little taste of Fall.

8 Cups Cubed butternut squash (peeled)
2 Cups chopped granny smith apples (peeled)
1 1/2 Cups chopped onion
1/2 cup celery
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp. Curry powder
Vegetable or chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
Shredded White Cheddar to top

-Bake Squash on Sprayed pan @400 for 45 min (I peeled it first, which is really hard to do, but the squash cooks faster. Much easier to bake then peel and chop).
-In large soup pot saute onions, apples, bay leaves, celery for 10 minutes.
-Add pressed garlic and curry stir continuously for 2 minutes.
-Add Squash and Broth (I used about a box and a 1/3), salt and pepper simmer for 30 minutes uncovered.
-Remove bay leaves.
-Mash with potato masher to desired consistency or you can puree.
-Smother with white cheddar!

And then Fresh Fig Galettes (from the book Fresh From the Farmers' Market).

I was listening to a sermon -- which I have never done before while cooking -- and the pastor was talking about the California poppy. He said that he sees it not only as an example of God's creativity, but of God's love for humanity; nothing needs to be beautiful for us to survive. And as I listened, I looked down at the figs I was cutting, their thin leathery skin, the sigh of white, their soft mouthy centers. Love.

And what better thing to do with such a beautiful slice of fruit then to put it in a crust.

And bake it til it browns.

This would be tasty in the morning, warm, with a cup of coffee. Upon first bite, the word that came to mind was "earthy"; the fig is an earthy fruit, after all. I cut the sugar back to 4 T's because my figs were soft and ripe, but I think a little more sugar would have served them well. The crust is buttery but not too rich, and the sprinkling of sugar on top makes it a treat unto itself. (again, the coffee would play in well here).


for the dough:

2 c flour
3/4 t salt
1/2 c unsalted butter, chilled, in small pieces
7 T solid veg shortening, chilled, in small pieces
~1/4 c ice water

-In food processor (or mixer, or simply using a whisk), combine flour and salt.
-Add butter pieces and pulse a few times, just until fat is evenly distributed and coated with flour. (or simply cut with knives)
-Add shortening pieces and pulse a few times until coated with flour. There should still be pieces of flour-coated fat about the size of large peas.
-Transfer to large bowl.
-Drizzle with ice water while tossing with a fork until it begins to come together
-then gather the dough with your hands. You may have to knead it slightly to get it to hold together, but that's better than adding more water
-Handle dough as little as possible, then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hrs.

Preheat the oven to 425


1 1/2 lb fresh figs
6 T sugar (or less if quite ripe)

Egg wash: 1 egg yolk whisked with 2 T heavy cream (or make do with whatever you have -- I used a splash of whole milk)
Sugar for galette rims

-Quarter figs (or cut into sixths if large). Set aside.
-Just before you are ready to assemble the galettes, sprinkle figs with 6 T sugar and toss gently

-Divide dough into 6 equal pieces.
-Working with 1 piece at a time, roll out on lightly floured board into a circle about 1/8" thick
-Transfer to baking sheet
-Arrange 1/6 of figs "attractively" -ha -- in the center, leaving 1 1/2 " edge all the way around
-Fold over edge to create a boarder, making sure there are no cracks in the dough or the juices will leak while baking (patch with little pieces if necessary).
-For each galette, brush the border with a little egg wash then sprinkle border generously with sugar.
-Bake until crust is golden and fruit is bubbly, 22-25 minutes
-Transfer to a rack and cool slightly before serving

Saturday, September 26, 2009

First Impressions: Cloth

Note* I recommend not reading on if you become squeamish at the mention of dirty diapers, or worse yet, at descriptions of the contents (so, for example, Kaia Joye, you may want to skip this one...)

Eden's been wearing cloth diapers for about 36 hours. I placed a big order of bumgenius diapers through Kelly's Closet the other day (Cottonbabies is also a great site). It felt risky to be putting up so much money this late in the game -- Eden is almost 16 months -- especially with a daughter who is now telling me when she has to go to the bathroom. But, I figure better late than never.

As I was waiting for my order to arrive (I am still waiting, by the way), a friend gave me a bunch of hand-me-downs, most of which are Fuzzi Bunz. And so we began.

To answer your questions:

-Yes, cloth diapers are chubbier than disposables and make her have a big bum that is especially cute with skirts. So far, all pants still fit (though I haven' t tried the snuggest ones).

-I surprisingly like the fuzzi bunz diapers better than the bumgenius because the leg holes are adjustable and I can make them snugger. I may not have the bumgenius sized right (you can change the height of it) and I will try making it smaller and tell you if that matters.

*another note is that since I am using used diapers, it's possible that they are less absorbent than new ones would be*

-She's been wearing all diapers with double inserts.

-The diapers have worked WELL during waking hours, and I've found them to be easy to use.

-The toting-extra-things deterrent has also proved not to be bad.

-I have yet to wash them. It takes one cold wash, one hot wash, and one hot rinse. (the water usage is a problem. I am choosing to fight the landfills ). THAT will be a production, but I think I'll get into the routine. But as I said, I have yet to do it...

-She SOAKED through a diaper with double inserts the first night. So last night I changed her before I went to sleep thinking this would solve the problem. It didn't. So, we'll use nature babycare disposables at night.

-She also peed through the diaper while napping. Not sure what we'll do about that, yet. I'm going to try again.

[Now that I've seen the soaked cloth, I am in awe of how much liquid disposable diapers absorb]

-There is a magical product that eases the fear of dirty cloth diapers quite a bit. I don't know the name (will find out if you want it), but essentially, it looks like a dryer sheet that you lay in the cloth diaper. If the baby poops, you lift out the dryer sheet and flush the whole thing. If the diaper is just wet, you wash the dryer sheet with the diaper and reuse it. It eases the dirty diaper deterrent.

This morning I experienced what I think must be the very worst of cloth diapering. Eden had a dirty diaper. When I pulled her pants down, I found that poop had oozed out of both diaper leg holes (bumgenius) and coated the inside of her pants. The poop was HUGE. And like glue. Glue-mud. The easy shake-the-poop-into-the-toilet trick -- well, let's say there was no shaking. More scraping. I will stop there, but the whole process lasted a long time and is not one I possibly could have done in public (though I guess i would have just thrown the whole thing in a wet bag and dealt with it at home). I can't imagine the diaper will ever become clean again. Ever. I am tempted to throw it away. But I won't. Partly because that would defeat the whole purpose. And waste a lot of money. But still, I am tempted.

The good news, though, is that I DID it. And washed my hands in scalding water for a while. And moved on. The worst is over. I should add that I didn't use one of those dryer sheets this morning, and that may have made the whole thing easier. Except for the oozing. Gross.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Half Birthday

My Mom had a way of making many things magical when we were growing up: the fairies were alive, we had free reign of our furniture-less living room, we "sledded" down the stairs on a crib mattress evenings our dad was away, we played "candy bar and liver" on our drives home from school (my mom would ask if we did something and we'd say candy bar (yes) or liver (no) -- a good way to extract info), there were rituals -- to our drives, to our dinners, to our years. One day we marked each year was our half birthday. We probably did different things, but I remember half cakes and the fact that everyone knew it was our special half-day being highlights. My brothers still count down to their half-birthdays -- one had to teach his wife all about its importance -- and they are on either side of 30.

Yesterday was Silas's half birthday, so I tried to follow suit. We talked about it for weeks. We anticipated the amazing greatness of giving up sippy cups on that day (hallelujah!). We practiced singing "Ha-- Bir---t---yu---." And of course we made half a cake.

Since we were meeting friends (at the most beautiful playground in the world) anyway, we took the cake along.

Unfortunately that afternoon Silas turned to his alter ego the "MEAN BAD GUY" and terrorized his friends, which made the park a little less fun for all... Here he is making his flexing face, which is very close to the "mean bad guy" face but without the yelling...


As of this moment, Eden is wearing cloth diapers. A turquoise one at the moment. She has yet to go to the bathroom. I've placed a large order, gotten more from a friend (thank you Jen!!) and am committed.

When I saw a friend in DC who was using cloth, I thought, yes, it's more work, but if that were the only option, I would be doing it without complaining. So I'm going to pretend it's the only option, suck it up and do it (finally).

I will definitely keep you posted. It feels like an undertaking.
And it is.

(She loves them -- she keeps picking them up and parading them around the house saying, "dress! dress!" because they are bright colors...)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Falling into Fall

I haven't quite found my footing for Fall yet. We have very little scheduled -- no classes, no music, no sports, no gymnastics, no swimming -- which I kind of like because I want to be conscious of the appeal to over-schedule. But with our wide open days, I'm finding that I feel a bit aimless. It's as if I haven't quite gotten in a groove since we got back from our trip. What DO we do with wide open days every day?

I haven't felt this sense of aimlessness for a long time and am surprised to find it cropping up again now. I feel a low grade anxiety or sense of isolation as I try to piece a day together. Most of my friends have their kids at school the mornings we don't, so the chances of meeting up with them are suddenly gone. And afternoons --4-5:30 or 6 -- are quite short.

Silas, all of the sudden, would really LIKE social interaction. Hanging out with Eden and me doesn't cut it like it used to, or involves his pulling Eden's arm as hard as he can or "falling" on her and smashing her face into the ground.

So, once again, I am feeling my way along and reassessing what is important for our days, for our sanity, for development. Yesterday I made a list of fun places we could go. Today I'm making a list of creative things we could do here. I used to put curriculum together every day -- and it looks like I need to bring a little bit of that energy back to life now.

An aside: as I wrote this, I just watched Eden wander around the living room, pause to look at the cluttered coffee table where there are inviting things like a remote control, roll of tape, and phone charger, ignore all of those things and move in for a dollar bill, saying "MOE-NEE! MOE-NEE!" She then picked up a sharpee (which clearly shouldn't be on that table) and stood there "drawing" (thankfully the top was on) on the dollar. I have now extracted the sharpee, but she still has the dollar... I should add here that her knowledge of the word "money" comes from her grandmother -- thanks mom! -- and is especially embarrassing in a crowded store when the cashier hands me change and my 1 year old starts yelling "moe-nee! moe-nee!"

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

September Tears

It never occurred to me until this year when everywhere I turned I overheard adults having conversations about so-and-so starting 1st grade at blah-blah-blah, or how the first day of kindergarten was this Thursday or how such-and-such just started high school or left for Amherst. September not only marks a season of high excitement and nervousness for children across the nation who walk into new classrooms, sit next to new people, take home backpacks of new demands and wonder who will be their friends this year, but a season of testing and heart pangs for parents....

Does at least one person in every family leave school crying at least once in September? On Monday a friend called me crying after having left her 5 year old on the curb with her big backpack and tears in her eyes to find her own way to her classroom, on Tuesday a friend told me -- yes a grown man -- how he left school crying after watching a girl be repeatedly cold to his daughter on the playground as she stood dazed in the sea of new kids, and this morning it was my turn.

I did the whole morning wrong.

Silas woke up with a little cough: "I have a wiwwy (really) bad cough mama."
And a few minutes later, a pain in his arm.
Then a pain in his back.
Then one in his leg.
"I can't go to school."

Instead of tuning in to him, we all went out to breakfast. Where Ben and I had a lame argument. And Silas most likely absorbed that the tone of our breakfast was less than fun. When we were done, we had an awkward pocket of time before school started, so I took the kids to the nearby market where I'd been meaning to go to buy my favorite bread. I figured I would get a few things for his lunch and we'd go straight to school.

In the market Silas was cold, Silas's leg hurt, Silas didn't want to go to school. I got him a hard boiled egg, a yogurt, and a peach, and at the car, put them in a plastic bag I emptied, along with a restaurant mint from the center console. I had no string but found some Mardi Gras beads that I used to tied the bag closed. Voila! Special lunch! -OR- Voila! My-mom-is-taking-weird-care-of-me-today lunch. It depends how you look at it. I'm not sure how he did.

Anyway, we got to school and he did NOT want me to leave. He clung. He cried. He screamed. He begged. And I left. UGH -- LEAVING!

All I wished was that I could have redone the morning -- sat with him, read to him, reassured him more attentively than I had. And maybe even taken him to school late if he needed a little more time.

But I didn't, and so in the car, I cried a September cry and drove home.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Fortunately Eden sings to herself and makes herself known.
Today I heard her and turned around to find her holding these:

A little while later, I noticed this:

Close one.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Back in Pacific Standard Time. Sort of.

I have that vague feeling I had with a newborn as I faced the long, broad day ahead with an edge of anxiety wondering how I would ever get to the other side. What does one DO all day?

The first day home with the kids after weeks away is like this. I feel like I'm trying on someone else's clothes. And they're kind of itchy. I wander. I can't quite find a rhythm. I feel alone, which I am after so many days of living with parents, sisters, brothers, in-laws. I am back in my space. And I can't quite remember how I do that.

This is today.

The day began at 4:55, which is a bit better than I expected. But at 1:30 I am DYING for a hard long nap, and Miss Eden is uninterested and crying in her bed. We aren't quite moving together yet.

And so I shall go get her. And wake up Silas in a bit and plunk the three of us on the beach in hopes that the sight of ocean will throw me into perspective and that the sun will reset our clocks.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Blustery Windy Ocean

I have escaped to the top of the beach house with a laptop, notebook, cup of coffee, and have turned the chair to face the huge windows. For two days it has stormed -- the kind of heavy-handed, windy storming I long for in California. It's the kind of storming that froths the waves, makes foam blow down the beach like tumbleweed, that turns the ocean color of rough slate. It makes the dunes' sea oats and pampas bob and bow as the grasses change colors in the storm light, become blue and purple, their feathery heads almost glowing.

The windows are cracked in front of me and wind whips inside in ribbons of cool. It is sweatshirt weather, fall weather. I'm sure when the sun returns, we will be back to summer again, but in the meantime, we bundle up and are reminded of season shifts.

Staying at the beach during storms is entirely sensory: yesterday I look a long shower in the outdoor shower -- cold wind rushed through the wide spaces between the slats as the water poured out as hot as I could take it. Heaven. Later in the day my sister Kaia Joye and I went for a long walk in the wind, which ended up being in the driving rain. Sand blew like needles into the backs of our legs and cold rain soaked our clothes. But the beach was scattered with treasures: whole hinged clams, palm-sized jelly fish (sea jellies), a puffer fish, hollow whole crab shells, jackknife clams. Then another hot shower, and an evening of wind blowing in through the screen door, and wide dark clouds bulging and blowing above us as we made dinner.

Dinner was lobsters. Justin drove down from Rhode Island yesterday with a cooler full of lobsters, so there was lobster racing on the kitchen floor, lobster "hugs" as their long rubber-band-ed claws spread across the children's' chests, and of course hot lobster with butter for dinner.

Silas, Finny, and Eden have all found me now, so it's time to go back downstairs with my now-cold coffee.