Saturday, December 20, 2008

Winter Song

Winter Song with Ingrid Michaelson

I love this song and I just found the video.

Feeling Grateful

We got lots and lots of beautiful snow last night. It's so nice when this happens on the weekend when we don't have to be anywhere.

Fiona brought up a tray of two cups of tea to us this morning. Mine was perfect, Earl Grey with milk. Doug's was milkless English Breakfast. She accidentally put milk in it at first (which is actually how he prefers it) and so started over. The screeching we heard earlier was due to the fact that Sophia wanted to carry the tray up. Sophia adores her sister and equally adores working in the kitchen. Anyway, Fiona was obviously quite pleased with herself...she was just beaming. I tried not to tear up. I'm such a sap.

Yesterday, Fiona had a "holiday shopping" thing at her school. I think the profit goes towards the PTA. She was very excited about it. They take an envelope with money in it for shopping for Christmas gifts. You write on the front together who they want to shop for and how much they want to spend on each person. We sent Fiona with $20, 6 of it from her allowance. She allocated $4 for each person: Dad, Mom, Sophia, Sobo, and Eliza (they had a section for friends, parents, siblings, and grandparents). Fiona gave us our gifts right away. She was beaming. Mine is a faceted glass "gem" with "Mom" on the front in a pretty box (the girls both just love boxes). Fiona says it is a diamond and she spent ten dollars on it, but she saw it and really wanted it for me. I'm not really a diamond kind of girl, but this is the most beautiful one in world. (Sobo, your gift is on the way!) I did tell her that one does not need to know the cost of a gift. I was very touched she gave me something she thought I would adore. I thanked her for it and we had lots of hugs. She said, "Thank you for telling me how much you like it".

She saw her friend Eliza admiring a necklace with two hearts, so she was very sneaky about buying that for her. She gave it to her afterward. Eliza was so pleased, but she said that she shouldn't give it to her (I think she thought it was just for family). Fiona pointed out to her that she had budgeted for a friend on the front of the envelope.

Days like this make up for all the screaming, all the "I hate you!! You are the stupidest, meanest mom in the whole world!! You hate me!!! You don't love me at all!!" and then some.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Sophia loves Shut Up and Let Me Go by The Ting Tings:

I asked if she wanted some music. She said "Yes! I want that song that goes...I ain't faking this. Hey!"

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Just a Quick Woo HOO

I'm still walking around in a bit of a daze.

I had a fabulous time with Ellen Aim in Ithaca a couple of weekends ago (oh boy, I haven't written in a while, have I?) You can read more about that trip there and it has pictures!

More to come.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Happy 4th, Sweet Sophia

Okay, it's really tomorrow, but I'm excited. She's excited!

Four years! They've been four wonderful ones.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Pippi's Pining for the Fjords

Fiona talking. I swear she looks like she's grown up in New Yawk.

Alas, after just telling a friend that our birds are so messy, and actually, I'm really not fond of them at all, we found Pippi lying on the bottom of her cage. I think I hear my taxi to Hell just outside the door now. (Although another friend of ours, who let us borrow the steamer for the wallpaper, said I should test it out on the birds.)

So we buried her in the back yard and Fiona sang some songs. She doesn't seem particularly sad, but Sophia is a bit sad. She keeps saying she misses Pippi and wants to write notes for her to put outside. She also keeps asking why Pippi died. I have tried to answer this in several different ways, but she still keeps asking. Don't we all.

The leaves are all pretty much yellow now. However, there are so many peepers here that it is actually affecting traffic. That combined with the desperate construction going on makes for some uncharacteristically stopped up traffic.

I'm so looking forward to October 23-26, where I will join Ellen Aim for her visit to the Cornell Law School! If we can find a room somewhere. It's a long 6 hour drive there, so I'll have to load up the Pod with road songs.

I will tentatively say that I may have a very minor source of income and a major source for a creative outlet. I have started making cakes for a friend's coffee shop and they seem to be selling very well and have received lots of compliments. It makes me very happy.

Friday, October 03, 2008

He Taught Me How to Turn My Cheek When People Laugh at Me

And, boy, am I laughing. My dad sent this, Ellen Aim posted it, and I have to share it, too. Try to hang in there (it's not easy) for the lyrics at 1:45.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Triana's Visit

Today was Fiona's first violin lesson! I think it went well.

Last night was Open House at Fiona's school and her teacher told us that Fiona is pretty much at a whole different level of reading than the rest of her class. Unfortunately, the 2nd graders have reading time at a different time, so apparently she can't go there. I'm not too worried as she spends a lot of her free time reading (and she can't hear you when she reads, which is exasperating, but at the same time, I totally understand...). We saw her reading basket and we'll see about putting some more advanced books in there or something. Her teacher wants her to work on comprehension, which she is pretty good at, but could be better--she tends to read very quickly. Again, I can relate.

We had a great visit with Triana, who wrote a great post about it at her blog, so I'll let you read it there. Suffice to say, good times were had, silliness ensued, and good food was plentiful. Fiona still mourns and mopes (mainly after school, which is prime moping time) for Kendra's presence.

This is the best foliage season ever. I can't believe how bright the leaves are this year. Some years it's very yellow and brown. This year is Red! Orange! and Yellow! It is outstanding. I took some lame pictures and they don't really do it justice.

I did take Triana to Hen of the Wood, where I did not get a recent menu, so I don't really have details. What can I say? The food was utterly divine as usual. They really know how to cook their pig. However! We saw the Chef, Eric Warnstedt, who was named one of Food and Wine's best new chefs of 2008. So that is incredibly awesome. But before I discovered that, he was there in the hallway with us and I asked him if he was the chef (doh, I knew that, but I can't start a conversation to save my life), and then, upon affirmation, said I loved his food and wanted to shake his hand, which I did. Squee! I said I had to bring Triana there since she had never been. After being seated, we got a little amuse bouche of grilled bread, blue cheese, and bacon. Oh, the bacon. I did have pork for an appetizer and entree on top of that. What can I say? I love pig, and it is magic at Hen of the Wood. I do remember Triana had the hanger steak, which she was worried would be tough, but I said, do not worry. They know how to cook meat here, and it will be perfect, or they will redo it. It was perfect.

I've posted this before, but it's not on YouTube anymore. It's worth repeating in honor of bacon:

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Ten Foods You’ll Find, Eat, and Regret at the State Fair

I love food—the greasier the better. So any day that includes deep-fried calamari with warm marinara sauce is a good day—no, a great day—by my standards. There’s no better place to get your greasy grub on than at a state fair.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


This year we went to Shelburne Orchards instead of Adams Apple Orchard, just for a change.

Most of what we picked were Macs, but we got some Honey Crisp and something I can't identify. The trees aren't marked at all, as far as I can see. But the apples are great.

They also have the best cider doughnuts we've tried so far. They're rolled in cinnamon sugar, and they are warm and perfect.

All the apple picking was done by the girls. I just sat and watched and took pictures.

They filled two of these.

Sophia's drop off at school is going marginally better. Sobo left Tuesday for Texas and we miss her. Triana comes today and will be here until Sunday morning! We're going to Hen of the Wood tonight, which she has not been to before. Obviously, this must be remedied.

The wasps are back. They are only in the attic right now. I was up there at the worst time--in the middle of a very sunny afternoon. Trying to seal up a window crawling with cluster flies and wasps is not my idea of a good time. There may have been screaming.

Monday, September 22, 2008



Post coming up soon about our apple picking, with pictures. I gotta get the playroom ready for the Kilted Carpenter to finish our windows. Did I mention their house is purple, too? Nearly the same purple.

Sophia's drop off at school has crashed into a double helping of drama every MWF morning. She doesn't want to go. There is screaming and crying. It's ugly. I don't know if she isn't ready for this or what. She did fine at drop off activities this summer. It really sucks.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Food Blathering

I finally got my paws on CookWise, by Shirley Corriher, which I bought more as a reference book than for the recipes. I actually forgot it had recipes. Anyway, it explains how and why things happen in cooking. A great book in a similar vein is Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking, but without recipes.

Lo and behold, she has my favorite waffle recipe in there. I've seen similar waffle recipes in other books, but the best is Marion Cunningham's (from The Breakfast Book). The waffles are the lightest I've ever had. The outside is crisp and the inside is soft. You can substitute whole grain flours in part for the all purpose flour (AP), but it loses some crispness. The flavor is still excellent.

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (or instant)
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups warm whole milk
1/4 pound butter, melted
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 cups AP flour
2 large eggs
1/4 tsp baking soda

Sprinkle the yeast on warm water in a very large mixing bowl (you'll need it to be large so the batter can rise) and let bubble. Instant yeast does not need to be proofed (you don't have to wait for it to bubble). Add the milk, butter, sugar, salt, and flour and whisk until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand overnight at room temperature. If it's really hot where you are, refrigerate the batter.

In the morning, beat in the eggs and baking soda. Cook in your waffle iron. It's essential to serve this immediately, because it starts to lose perfection as it cools down.

I am not one to put maple syrup on my waffles (I'm strictly a salted butter on my pancakes and waffles kind of person...I want to taste waffle/pancake, not syrup), but warm maple syrup is a nice accompaniment. Fiona staunchly swears by fruit compote on hers.

Waffles are one thing I simply will not buy mix for. I have weakened to a few convenience foods since having kids (jarred tomato sauce, Annie's macaroni and cheese shells, even !egads! frozen pizza ...I'm sure there are more examples, but I am drawing a blank), but not waffle and pancake mix and not granola. (Pizza dough is so easy to make, so feel free to mock me. I do make pizza dough, but sometimes it's so nice to just take something out of the freezer.)

Granola is so easy. Both the girls love it (sometimes they even want it for lunch) and I can put all sorts of treasures in there. I like mine rich in nuts--and this is where I put my maple syrup. I use either that or honey for the sweetener. I love adding dried fruit (after baking) like cranberries, raisins, or blueberries, but I love the dried fruit from here the best, especially the strawberries and the raspberries. They need to be kept very dry, though, or they get chewy. I also love my granola heavy on coconut, preferably unsweetened. It's so easy to vary the flavors and it's so easy to make. I cannot imagine buying it.

Daily Drama

We have been going to Sarducci's often for lunch these days. One table is next to a mirror. Sophia loves to watch herself eat in the mirror. She makes hilarious faces. I'm sure by the time we leave, there are copious garlic oil handprints and lip marks on the mirror. Last week, she looked in the mirror, cried out and buried her face in my arm, declaring, "My freckles are hurting me!"


We went to the Tunbridge World's Fair Parking was crazy! The little VT highway was totally jammed! Well, it was a lot for here.

Sophia and I in front of the cow barn. We also saw some oxen, four of them Fiona's teacher's.

The carousel was a huge hit. They went on three times.

Fiona continues to read and continues to be very excited when she has homework. I've noticed her avidly reading It's Not the Stork which we bought for her a few years, ago, so I've upgraded her to It's So Amazing!

Fiona with It's So Amazing! This is a fabulously comprehensive sexual education book for ages 6 and up. So far, she thinks the funniest thing about it is the hair-do on the cartoon duck. I wonder when that will cease to be the funniest thing. This picture was actually taken at a restaurant; she insisted on bringing it inside to read. I love this book because not only does it present the basics in a matter of fact way (but with cute drawings), it also discusses contraception, different types of families, adoption, HIV/AIDS, and sexual preferences.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Random Pictures

Sobo brought the girls these Japanese rice paper umbrellas.

She oozes personality.

And today's moment of Zen.

We have lots of great cemeteries up here, due to the granite quarries around. This is from Hope Cemetery in Barre.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Violin Concerto for Mums in D Minor

We started renting a violin for Fiona. The bow is purple. Her lessons should start soon. There are free group lessons during school once a week, but I think we are going to look into private lessons as well. She also wants to learn piano, which is great, but I said let's take it one instrument at a time.

She's coming down with a cold or something. She came home from school today with a sore tummy and a runny nose with sneezing. She said she just wanted a box of tissues, a bag for used tissues, and her violin, so she could practice "outside in the fresh air next to the mums".

This violin is so small, it's like a pinky violin.

Oh, by the way, the carpenter did a fantastic job with our windows. We're definitely keeping his number for future projects. He's also very cool in that he wears kilts. I guess it is his trademark, because when you write out the check, you make it out to "The Kilted Carpenter". So if anyone needs a carpenter in central Vermont, give a shout out in the comments.

The Incredible, Edible Egg

So I did make a souffle with those sexy eggs. I got even more the other day. The sweet person who is always there and looks for eggs for me seems to know the secret places to find eggs. Normally, he just goes to the coop, but I saw him looking in bushes near the farm stand, too, for eggs. Free range, you know.

The above is a roux (the flour and butter cooked until light brown) with the egg yolks, milk, and seasonings (pepper, salt, a bit of cayenne--I'd put more in, but Sophia might eat it). It's very dark compared to when I use grocery store eggs. Normally, this would look very pale yellow.

I love egg whites. When we would make chocolate meringue at school, we had to use an enormous mixing bowl. The thing is, to fold in egg whites in that volume, you can't really use a whisk or a spatula. You have to use your whole arm. (Actually, it does work better to use your hand to fold in whites, but a whisk works well, too). Being covered with chocolate meringue is definitely not a bad thing. And if it makes you squeamish to think of someone's arm in your meringue or cake probably should eat your meals at home.

Before (I added cheddar--Cabot's Hunter's Cheddar--and Parmesan).

After. Great fun to eat.

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Sound of Silence

Is really louder than you would think. Both girls are at school today. We have this great carpenter putting windows in (hallelujah!) and even that is so. quiet. Friday would have been the first day of the Loud Quiet, but I did volunteer work all morning.

I feel like I should be eating something like Fruity Pebbles and drinking Dr Pepper and watching Supernatural, but that would probably put me into some sort of coma.

When the windows are done, I'll get paint colour samples and start on my descent into Wallpaper Hell (which I'm sure is the 9th level of Hell).

Sunday, September 07, 2008


Maybe I could sacrifice my beans and sunflowers for this:

A couple of pudues, in the south of Chile, specifically in a city called Ensenada.
Pudu is the smallest deer in the world, its original of Chile and is in danger of extinction.

Thanks, Dad :)

Star Trek + Nine Inch Nails = Closer

= Brilliant!



Cosmos is now on iTunes.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Two Things

Sobo and Sophia were taking a walk near our house. Sophia bends down to pick up a leaf. She said, "Oh, a Japanese Maple leaf". She was right. I am not sure where she picked that up...

Fiona and Sophia are helping Doug at the grocery store in the self-checkout line. I, personally, go nowhere near the self-checkout line. A woman is chatting with them as they check out. They get to this sparkling Rose that we get: it's good with food and easy to drink. Fiona says, "Oh, this is that champagne that I like so much!"

Friday, September 05, 2008


This picture is actually from "Drop In" day to set up her cubbyhole and get used to the place a little more. Today was her actual first day of school, and she did very well. She played by herself at first and gradually played with the other kids. No surprises here. She helped make the soup, which they make every Friday with a vegetable from each family. I don't think she ate the soup, but they had apples to eat, too.

We actually have a day of summer today: a steamy 85F. Then it starts to plummet and we'll be in the low 60s for a high. I love this time of year.

One nice thing about this year is the food available locally. We often stop off at Dog River Farm for corn picked that morning, amazing tomatoes, etc ... but the best thing they have are their eggs. Far better than anything at the grocery store, even better than the eggs at the local co-op, these eggs have a dark orange yolk and are very perky. What is more disappointing than cracking open an egg to find a watery white and a yolk that can't even hold itself together? Okay, recent events not withstanding. Let's focus on the little things. The problem with the eggs is that they are sporadically available. Today, we hit the jackpot. I never see the eggs anymore, but if I see one of the farmers there, I ask about them. He recognizes me now. Sobo asked today, and instead of half a dozen here, 4 there, we got a whopping dozen and a half eggs. We will be having souffle tonight.

I made a roast chicken last night (I don't know if even the "hormone free/organic" chicken--from who knows where--is bigger these days, but lately, it seems to take longer to fully cook the meat around the thigh bone. I should probably go back to getting our chicken locally.) and amazingly, both the girls ate it and (!!!) the garlic green beans (from the Dog River Farm). Sophia ate some potatoes and Fiona, who did not like the potatoes--and never has liked potatoes unless they are in french fry form--actually tried the potatoes. I feel invincible. Dare I make a kale/Parmesan souffle? I think I'll stick to garlic and Parmesan tonight. It will be so cool, because the souffle will be orange. I'll try to get a picture in our dark kitchen.

And now, a la The Daily Show, here is your moment of Zen:

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Feeling the Need for a Five Course Venison Dinner

I could have cried, but I really felt more like manical laughter when I saw this.

These are the sunflowers that we grew from seed, which were actually about to make it to full bloom this summer. These are the beans that we have been enjoying and were at the peak of production. You can see where the beans were too tall to eat.

Look, deer, you have the whole of the forest. Stay away from my garden! I'd get more garlic/rotten egg spray, but really. What is the point now?

Grrr. I'm most annoyed by the sunflowers. I was really looking forward to those.

Dental Star

Sophia did so astonishingly well at the dentist, that instead of just "counting" her teeth, she had an actual cleaning and fluoride treatment AND X-rays! It was surreal...except that she didn't really talk a whole lot to the hygienist and she nodded yes to every question. This time, instead of trying to hold back tears because of my own personal hellish experience with the dentist as a child, I was trying to hold back tears because it was going so well. Look, I'm a sap, okay? I did manage to hold myself together, though.

Anyway, she, incredibly (because getting a toothbrush in her mouth at home is a whole other ball game, let alone floss...I tried not to laugh when they asked me if we floss her teeth), has no decay at all. The only problem is the constant thumb sucking. It's causing a cross-bite and a slight overbite, a narrowing of her upper palate, and a huge gap in her bottom front teeth (people think at first she has already lost a bottom tooth). I'm sure they will introduce us to the orthodontist in about four years (kids seem to go in a lot earlier to the orthodontist than in my day!).

Now for Fiona's nitrous oxide/cavity filling experience on Tuesday. Gulp. I'm actually not going to that. Sobo offered me a Xanax for that, but I'm not sure it's a good idea to combine it with the Lexapro. I had no idea children required so many pharmaceuticals.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Hen of the Wood Again

We love Hen of the Wood. We returned there on the 23rd while Sobo watched the girls. Hooray for Sobo!

Again, Hen of the Wood did not disappoint. No pork belly on this menu, but they did have Niman Ranch pork cheeks, which could not have been more meltingly tender. That was served with a mustard creme fraiche. We could not decide between the crispy fried oysters with tarragon aioli, lemon zest, horseradish and parsley or the hen of the woods mushrooms with Vermont bacon and grilled Red Hen Bread. We got the oysters, which were light and lemony and delightful. If I had to pick a favorite, though, it would be the pork cheeks.

For the entree, we had the short ribs, which are braised overnight, and was served with chard...and I can not remember the starch for the life of me. Oh, I think it was smashed potatoes. Doug and I ate half of everything and then switched plates and he had the first half of this. I was too mesmerized by the short ribs to really notice anything else. We also had the smoked Labelle Farms duck breast with local kohlrabi puree (now there is an underused and under appreciated vegetable, if there ever was one), Pete's Farm Lacinato kale, and blackberries. Now, the duck was great, but the star of this plate was the kale. It was cooked with shallots (I actually thought it was garlic, but the server said it was shallots) and it was just so flavorful and tender. I could have eaten a whole bowl of this kale. Lacinato is a great variety of is not very bitter and it is really easy to cook with.

We had the cheese plate again (I didn't write down the cheeses or grab a cheese menu, but it was delicious) and one dessert: a clean tasting lemon tart with caramel ice cream and candied hazelnuts.

I did grab the wine list this time, and we splurged and got this.

This was a big wine, with dark juicy fruits and just a real pleasure to drink. It went so well with everything. It even somehow went with the oysters (whew). This would also be satisfying to drink on its own, but it was just a star with the pork cheeks. It helped that the pork cheeks tasted like something deities would eat on Mount Olympus.

Why You Should Not Nap

Right before you pick up your child: You will only notice in the nick of time, while waiting outside surrounded by people, who all seem to be checking everyone out anyway, that your wrap around skirt is about to fall off. You only show a brief glimpse of underwear to all; it could be worse.

This happens while you are talking to someone who you think is someone else and as you are tying your skirt back together, you remark that your daughter is thrilled her son is in her class (J). Embarrassment must have muddled your brain, because she informs you that you have her confused with someone else, because her son's name is C.

What a stupid day.

Last night Doug and I played hookie from the preschool parent's night and went to the Main Street Bar and Grill instead for drinks and nibblies. I learned that I love Hendrick's gin in a dirty martini (they give you three olives: regular, stuffed with garlic, and stuffed with blue cheese) and I learned, to my great unhappiness, that I can not drink two of them. A little tender today. We had some yummy shrimp quesadillas and an almond/peach tart with caramel ice cream and a blueberry lemon cake. Doug had a blueberry martini and a lychee one. The blueberry one used local blueberries (we have great blueberries here), but the lychee one was the winner, I think.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

1st Grader

Fiona starts today. She now officially goes to school all day, every day. It's going to be so strange.

Sophia wants to go, too, but she has to wait until next Friday.