Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Anything To Avoid Folding Laundry






Fiona thought this was hysterical, as I knew she would. Sophia was less enthusiastic. She laughed nervously, then watched us from a distance.

Okay, me too:




Now back to folding laundry. We're off at 4 AM Thursday morning to visit south Houston until Monday morning (that's 12 AM Monday morning). It should be an adventure!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Mama Bear Needs her Sleep

This ought to stop those middle of the night awakenings by the kids.

Heh heh. Oh, the therapy they would need.

Love Letters



I just found this when I went into the kitchen to clean after yet another round of Find the Nits in Fiona's hair (Day 3 and I'm still finding those little bastards).







This is why I pick out nits for hours on end. Well, one reason. Those red drawings are coral, by the way. They're studying coral at school, and we just watched Blue Planet: Seas of Life. They found it enthralling, especially the coral and the jellyfish.

Oh, and how could I forget this?:

Thursday, February 19, 2009

LICE

Yesterday while working conditioner through my hair (this is how I get out tangles), I found what I thought was a piece of fuzz. Then I realized the fuzz had legs. I found another one.

Fiona was at home since it's a school vacation week, so I checked her head right away. I knew her scalp had been itchy, which is not uncommon in the winter. At first, I didn't see anything. Then. I saw them. Scurrying away from me. I know now these were lice in the nymph stage, which had probably just hatched (although I have found a few adults). I took Sophia out of school right away, and Doug and I proceeded to do lots of combing, vacuuming and laundry. Coats are at the dry cleaner's. It seemed to happen very suddenly. I actually had checked Fiona a few days earlier (and they just had a check at school by the nurse), but didn't see anything.

I only found one adult on Sophia's head and no nits, which means I probably just missed them, I'm thinking. I keep finding nits on Fiona's head. It seems never ending.

Those of you who know me know that I have really, really thick, plentiful hair. I feel like things are crawling all over me. Fiona also (apparently) has very thick hair. Doug doesn't seem to have anything (so far) .

I think before the week is out, I may end up with very short hair. I've already chopped off quite a bit of Fiona's.

Fiona, by the way, is sort of fascinated by the whole thing. I've been just snipping the hairs off her head that have nits (they are incredibly hard to remove and the comb I got at the drugstore is totally worthless...I ordered a better one, which will hopefully come today) and sticking them in a plastic bag to throw away. After a particular round of Find the Nits, she wanted to see them. She said it would be neat to watch them in the bag go through their life cycle. Then she said, we would kill them.

Oh, yeah. Not doing that, by the way. I said, yes, that would be interesting, but we need to throw this away.

What I wanted to say is, honey, I'm sorry, but I need to torch these fuckers.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Cute Description

Sophia was sick yesterday, which was just as well, as it was a school in-service day. She had a fever and was just lethargic. She's totally better today. I picked her up from school and she immediately starts telling me she wants a playdate with SK (a girl!) They have a week break at the end of the month, so we'll try to arrange that.

We get home and we go through the back and forth of what to have for lunch. As is typical for her (as her teacher says, "every day is different with her!") she asks for something totally odd and random (meaning something that we don't normally have for lunch, but we certainly could!) for lunch. Potatoes. The hell? (Maybe I'm just used to Fiona eating the same thing day after day). So after figuring out she will really eat potatoes, I roast some fingerlings for her. She ate about half. While they were roasting, she decided she wanted eggs. She said "I want the yellow ones". I said, "The yellow ones?" I'm confused for a minute because lately she eats hard cooked eggs and only the white part. She said, "Yes. The ones that look like feathers." I said, "Oooh. You want scrambled eggs." She said "Yes. Scrambled." She ate about half of them.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Asian Bistro



We didn't actually go to Sakura (for miso soup, sushi, and fried ice cream) yesterday, after all (in lieu of a party, I let her pick any restaurant to eat at for lunch or dinner or whatever). We went to Asian Bistro. Yes, the only link I can find for Sakura is a Trip Advisor site. It is so disappointing when restaurants do not have their own web site!

Here is how it all went down. Fiona and I got to Burlington a little early. It was really sunny, but still really cold. We ducked into the mall area on Church Street to see if we could find some clearance sales on winter clothes...she has decided she likes tights now. We'll see. We didn't find tights, but we did for her: a sundress, a pretty skirt, and flip flops. For me: two bikinis. I am not sure what has gotten into me, as I never wear bikinis in public, but they are pretty cute. I couldn't resist. I got an Indian style looking cover-up, too. Decadent.

After a little more poking around, we were both getting a little nauseated with Mall Sickness, and went outside for fresh air. She decided it was time to go home instead of eat (her tummy hurt). I tried to get her a hot chocolate for the ride home, but she announced in the long line that she thought she was going to throw up. We left the line and the store.

She decided right before Williston, that her tummy hurt because she was hungry. So we discovered Asian Bistro. She had a Shirley Temple, miso soup, and roast pork lo mein. I say "had". What I mean is: "ordered". Well, she did have some rice, a few bits of pork, a couple of sips of soup, and the snow peas from my soup. I had tea, chicken and sizzling rice soup (yummy), and a fried scallop and shrimp dish seasoned really nicely with salt and pepper (it was sweet, salty, and peppery--slurp). We could have had the strawberry mochi for dessert, but she wasn't eating, wasn't sitting (wanted to lie down), so we decided to have a dessert rain check and head on home.

Asian Bistro was a nice surprise, though. The Chinese food we can get nearby is just depressing. I'm not talking about A Single Pebble. That's the best in the universe. I'm talking about the shockingly bad stuff in a 30 mile radius from where I live. Asian Bistro is more like 50 miles from us, so unfortunately, it's not a weeknight take away type of place for us. Better for the checkbook, though.

If I get to go back, I'm definitely trying out their scallion pancakes. So far I've never had a restaurant version that I've liked.

The Alchemist


Is so awesome, it has made my tiny list of things I MUST do before we leave Vermont. I'll get to that list later.

I had two 10 oz beers: FluxCapacitor and Sterk Wit. FluxCapacitor is dark, malty, and smooth. It was my favorite of the evening. Sterk Wit is really strongly flavored with coriander spice and also has some Curacao orange peel. I really liked it, but in a "wow, that's really interesting" way. I think I'd be more interested in pairing this with food than drinking it on its own. Doug ordered a pint of Donovan's Red, which tasted nicely of hops (mild, however) and was a beautiful dark red color.

The food is fun! We got the Liverwurst Plate with shaved red onion, house pickles (this is so cool), aged cheddar cheese, house spicy mustard and Red Hen Pumpernickel (Red Hen is one of my favorite bakeries. I'll miss Red Hen bread a lot.); the Beer Cheese Dip made with Alchemist Lightweight Ale, served with pretzel bits; Sweet Potato Fries served with herb sour cream (I never resist sweet potato fries); and the House Smoked Mushroom and Pepperoni Pizzetta with marinara, mozzarella and parmesan. The dinner menu, sandwiches, soups, salads, and specials all sounded good, too, but this time, it was all about the snacking to complement the beer. Although I was really tempted by the chili special. Hm.

I'm hoping I can go back at least one more time (since I probably can't make it every weekend). It's wildly popular, which makes me happy. It's also very dark and very noisy, but it's that kind of place. Since it was so dark, I couldn't photograph the food or beer with the camera on my phone. I'll have to bring a real camera next time.

Here is the one picture I got, with my FluxCapacitor beer:

If It's Cool With You, I'll Let You Get Naked, Too





A different video of the song Ellen Aim posted earlier. Thanks to Triana and Jeff for getting me totally hooked on this series!

Today is a weird day. Sophia is sleeping the day away (thank goodness it's a school in-service day), despite a full night's sleep. Hopefully, she feels better soon (I assume she's under the weather or fighting something off) and sleeps well (again!) tonight!

Two Fabulous Baking Books



Thank you, thank you, thank you, Triana, for this amazing book!

So far from this book, I've made the Lemon Barley Scones, the Whole Wheat Focaccia (I was very skeptical about this, but it was absolutely scrumptious!), the Soft Whole Wheat Pretzels (actually, Doug made those), the Buckwheat Pancakes, the Quinoa Pancakes, Simple Spelt Pancakes, and Morning Glory Muffins.

(Oh and HELLO! I just noticed there is Coconut Scone recipe. How did I miss that? I would have made that before the Lemon Barley ones, although those were good. Fiona once again pronounced me the "best baker in the world" after those.)

They even have a recipe for Scallion Pancakes, which is my all time favorite snack food. They use peanut oil in the filling rather than toasted sesame oil. Hm. I'll try a roasted peanut oil (for the filling, just plain for the frying).

Triana and I made the Classic Crunch Chocolate Chip Cookies (go to her blog for a pic of her second batch). We had no barley flour, so we used all purpose flour instead (the original is half barley flour and half whole wheat flour, so we used AP and whole wheat). The texture of these cookies is sensational. Crispy, yet a bit chewy in the center. They stay that way for days (if they are around that long). So many chocolate chips. It's almost too many (trust me), but it works.

This book also has an amazing looking Coconut Cake recipe. I don't make a lot of cake for home use (I only want a little bit now and then and I certainly don't want to fill up the kids on cake), but this cake is first in line for a special occasion. Maybe a Goodbye Vermont party!

Everything I've made has been outstanding. The only negative remarks have been from the kids...the Morning Glory muffins got a lukewarm response (they tried them, didn't finish them, and don't want more...I guess they have too many bits in them: sunflower seeds, shredded carrots, etc), and the Fiona did not like the strong flavor of the Quinoa Pancakes. What can I say? They taste like quinoa. If you like quinoa, that's okay, but if you don't, you don't. Apparently, pouring a heaping mound of strawberry sauce on them doesn't hide the taste, either. That little bag (1 pound, 6 oz) of quinoa flour cost me $10, too! It's the only flour I could not find in bulk. However, quinoa is quite high in protein, and it actually has a complete, balanced set of essential amino acids at that, so I'll try to keep using it. The pancakes have powdered ginger and crystallized ginger in them (I was out of the crystallized ginger; I keep eating it), which is a great match for quinoa. It complements the strong taste very well. Sophia ate the Quinoa Pancakes, but did not eat them with gusto as she did the Buckwheat Pancakes. Those went well with a blueberry compote.

This book is huge and I also hope to make the Bacon, Leek and Tomato Quiche this week as well as the Eclairs. I haven't made eclairs in ages. They aren't at all difficult. But, oh, I don't care how much whole grain goodness you put in them, they are definitely a once in a while treat!

Next book!



I've been spending so much time with King Arthur, I haven't made anything from this, but it's Dorie Greenspan (she has a blog!), and they are recipes from Paris patisseries. I can't stop reading this book. Thank you, Sobo! My friend Annie also has this book, and when I told her I had it, she gushed and gushed and extolled its greatness.

There are three recipes for madeleines: classic, honey, and Earl Grey. I say I do not have much of a sweet tooth, but then I remember madeleines. Really, I could eat one (or more?) a day. So perfect with tea. Just so perfect.

Need I say more? Oh, I do?

The recipes are easy to understand, they are not difficult, and everything sounds like good, wholesome French pastry ecstasy. It's also Dorie Greenspan, who even if you never made a single recipe (I dare you not to) from the book, is such a delight to read. Every time I read through this book, I want to jump on a plane to Paris.

Okay, one more tidbit: there is a recipe in here for Fresh Strawberry and Orange-Flower Water Marshmallows. Wow!

I also can't wait to try her recipe from Patisserie Mulot for Cherry Clafoutis. Swoon.

Friday, February 06, 2009

It Looks Like It's Really Happening

Texas. We can move anytime, actually. Like now. However, we'll probably wait until the end of the school year and then move. Obviously, if there is a house to move into.

Looks like the leading contender is Dallas! I said winner earlier, but apparently, there are twists.

I was trying not to get my hopes up...and I'm still a little wary and probably will be until all our stuff is in a moving van in the driveway.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

More Texas Odds and Ends



So let me try to wrap up this trip before I forget it all. Triana, Ellen Aim, Alex and I not only went back on the wine trail to visit three wineries (the plan was two, but there was a new one, Pedernales, that seems very promising, and we had to try as it was in the area!), but we went to Buffalo Exchange (a very cool clothing resale store)--where I always seem to find something, much to the dismay of the bank account--and Mangia!--where they have the best stuffed pizza in the world. Perhaps I exaggerate. It's great pizza, though. Cheesy. Whole wheat crust. Cool atmosphere. Cheesy. Mmmm. Oh, and I tried Ellen Aim's Mothership beer and THAT is lemony hoppy goodness. Much better than my Shiner Bock, which, of course, I had to have.



Ellen Aim and Alex at Mangia.



Triana and I at Mangia.

I got FOUR cute little dresses at Buffalo Exchange, which I will not model here because it's freaking negative WTF temperature outside, so sorry. Trust me that they are cute. Actually, I got two (sort of scuffled with Ellen Aim as we're similar sizes for dresses) on the first trip and we had to go back (how terrible) as Alex's dress still had the ink tag on it. So I got two more dresses! Yay me!

I did not write down anything for the wine. However, I can tell you we visited Texas Hills Vineyard, where I got a very yummy Orange Moscato 2005. It's nothing brilliant, but it's quite balanced, easy to drink, and has nice peach and pineapple notes. That doesn't sound like two fruits that really go together, but it works. It's an easy wine. I also got a Kick Butt Cab 2005. This I drank in Austin and I don't really remember much about it except enjoying it. I didn't drink it with food. I read the description and I just don't really remember this. Sorry! I guess I'll have to buy another bottle. I did really like the label. Not a reason to buy a bottle of wine, mind you. The name is certainly very Texan, though, no?

We also visited Pedernales Cellars, which is very new. I got two wines here, too. The woman at Texas Hills recommended the Viognier, which was very floral and had great melon notes. Another wine "easy" to drink. This would be perfect with summer food and grilled food light food like vegetables, chicken and fish. I think it would also be a great match for a lot of Thai-style type dishes. I splurged and also purchased the 2007 Pedernales Cellars Family Reserve. This tasted great, but I haven't opened the bottle I purchased, because I was hoping to actually try aging a wine (I seem to have this problem with instant gratification). However, that may not happen as we may be moving. More on that later. I mean, I can't move the wine, right? Better to just drink it, eh?

We also went to Torre di Pietra. This was our last stop, which might be why Ellen Aim and I bought a bottle to have with our packed lunch prepared by Triana with lovely cheeses (That purple haze cheese. I could not stop eating it.) and fruits and crackers. We bought the Parada wine, and since I didn't write anything down (Doh!), I don't really remember this, except it was very nice to drink. Why do I not remember the wines I drink with Ellen Aim? Hm.

Anyway, there was one wine I tasted, I can not remember for the life of me which one...the Claret? It smelled like heavenly Kalamata olives and perhaps rosemary, but unfortunately tasted of Kalamata olive brine and I nearly spit it out. Perhaps someone has a better memory than me? However, that was the only lament. We visited Torre di Pietra on my last trip and we always enjoy tasting wine there. I resisted buying more wine because there is only so much room in my suitcase (they all made it! I just had to mail most of my clothes home) and things started seeming a bit expensive by this time. One of my very favorite things, however, are their wine filled chocolates (apparently, you can not shop online at this time). I could eat pounds of these. They really are that good. I bought some and, alas, they are long, long gone.

I remember at one time feeling sort of hoity-toity and condescending about wines from Texas. Each time I have gone to visit the vineyards in the Austin area, however, I am always quite pleased with the tastings. I think it's pretty exciting. I can't wait to go back!



Here we all are at Torre di Petra. The guy serving us seemed tickled I was from Vermont. Actually, it does seem to bemuse most people. The server at Mangia was all, "Gee, I never served anyone from Vermont before". Thankfully, all I get are positive reactions so far.





This is Triana and I at Pedernales Cellars.







Sisters :)









Drinking that Parada I do not remember the taste of, but did very much enjoy.











Evidence that wine tastes even better towards the end of the tasting trip.






I'll wrap this up with talking about Gloria's , which is a tasty Tex-Mex/Salvadorian cool little place. We went there for brunch and I had this very satisfying "Sopa Siete Mares".



It was enormous. We went to brunch and the portions were HUGE.

However, there was also a margarita special on, so I had one on the rocks and Ellen Aim had a frozen one. I never, ever get frozen margaritas, but I have to say hers tasted like it had about ten times the amount of alcohol. I could not have finished ONE of these.



So. Good margaritas. God, I totally sound like a lush, huh?

Alex had the Salvadorian tilapia dish, which tasted very nice.



Definitely recommend.

Sobo had the grilled shrimp. Also quite delicious.



Ellen Aim had some sort of omlette, I do not remember what, but I think I took her avocadoes and tomatoes. I'm sort of an avocado whore. They don't post their brunch menu, so I can't figure it out. She seemed to enjoy it. Maybe it was just the margaritas talking.



So when Ellen Aim posts about eating queso (really yummy, by the way), chips, and margaritas at Gloria's, I know now where she is. Well, we visited a different location than her usual haunt, but now at least I have an idea of the yumminess factor. Oh, our waiter attended the University of North Texas and is from South America (his words). He was very friendly, a tad hard to understand (not even because of his accent; he sort of mumbled and swallowed the end of his sentences...but I have terrible hearing anyway, especially with lots of background noise) and we all ended up with his business cards by the end of the meal. Sort of strange. Anyway, we went to the Addison location. I'd definitely go back. Yummy food, good drinks, enthusiastic charming waitstaff.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Birthday Festivities



Fiona's birthday dinner. Miso soup (tofu, scallions, red miso), futomaki (egg, cucumber, carrot), and jasmine tea. She may not eat a single vegetable normally, but thankfully she still loves sushi rolls. Nori and all! Bonus: there is even some leftover for her lunch today. Score.



Harriet the Spy! Thank you Auntie Alex!



Hm. A large book. What is this?



OMGZ! All three books of His Dark Materials in ONE BOOK! Fiona loves these stories (she listens to them, as Sophia likes to say, "again and again and again and AGAIN!"). She really wanted the actual books. The Amber Spyglass is perhaps a bit over her head in parts at this time, but she still immensely enjoys the story. Thank you, Auntie Ellen Aim!





Her own Sumi-E kit from Auntie Alex! She is so tickled.



The monstrosity that is the gingerbread house. And, yeah, okay, it looks more like a church with the stained glass windows. She didn't want the people to scale, so leave me be.



It made her happy :)

Monday, February 02, 2009

So, Let's Talk About Rudy's



I had the pork spare ribs. Oh my god.

I always, always have to have the creamed corn, because it is REAL creamed corn.



The coleslaw is good, too. Very fresh. Here is the menu. Triana had the moist brisket, which is just amazing. They have incredible BBQ sauce to slather over it, as well (I've been in Vermont too long. Every sauce, every salsa I had in Texas seemed so spicy! Alas!). I am pleased to see I can order it online! I can't bring myself to try the "Sissy" sauce, although let's face it, I've become a sissy when it comes to hot food. The turkey is also outstanding. Looking at the menu again, I notice you can click on the yellow stars for nutritional information. Ha! That is precious.

The sausages look good, too. If I can resist the brisket and/or the ribs, maybe I'll try that next time. Maybe I'll just have to go when I'm frantically hungry so I can have both.




Apparently, this location Triana takes me to is THE location (there are several locations). I cannot remember for the life of me where it is, so hopefully she will enlighten us in the comment section :)


Triana! We love barbecue. It needs theme music.

You Can Blame Triana

While in Austin, we went to the amazing Alamo theater to see Slumdog Millionaire, which was an amazing movie, if difficult to watch in the beginning. But this post is not about Slumdog Millionaire. I'll let Ellen Aim talk about that (if she ever gets around to viewing it).

No, I want to share with you this song I cannot get out of my head. The Alamo shows cool stuff before the movie, in this case lots of very cheesy Bollywood songs. So, I apologize in advance. Except I'm not really sorry, because I'm evil like that. Oh, and I didn't have the Guinness milkshake (I was totally full from Rudy's), but I did have the fried pickles. They're the spear kind and served with ranch dressing. The batter was more of a breaded kind instead of the tempura type of batter. I think I prefer the tempura type of batter, but they were certainly edible.

Enjoy! There is so much to like here. Like Batman and Superman at the end. What the hell?

Sunday, February 01, 2009

The Age of Reason


Fiona turns SEVEN today (well, on the 2nd).

Tomorrow we'll assemble the gingerbread house (in lieu of cake--her request) with icing and candy and she'll unwrap her presents. She's bringing almond blueberry muffins for her birthday celebration in class tomorrow. Her requested birthday dinner is sushi rolls (with cucumber, carrot, and egg...no crab because she's a vegetarian again except in the case of pork cooked Chinese style) and miso soup. I'll get some more mangoes and frozen mangoes at the store tomorrow because I have this crazy feeling she'll want mango lassi. She just watched Iron Chef and nearly slipped on her pool of drool accumulated from watching them cook pork belly with mango.

Fiona continues to read voraciously. She has had another reading assessment. I would give you the numbers, but they don't really mean anything. For instance, the assessment says that they want children in this grade to read at level four, five, or six. Fiona's level says "30+". I suppose we will learn more at the next parent teacher conference in March. Her writing has always been pretty good, but it has made a dramatic change recently. She has been using lower case letters consistently and suddenly those backwards bs and ds and qs and ps have stopped.

She continues to be extremely social and friendly. She is fascinated with jokes and likes to check out joke books from the library. We went to see Totoro at the Savoy theater in Montpelier (the arty one) where there were tons of small children (you haven't really seen Totoro until you have a theater full of children and parents...great movie for audience participation). Fiona saw this movie ages ago when she was about two years old. She loved it. She would get so excited at certain parts of the movie...especially the scene where Totoro first appears. She doesn't jump up and down in the seat anymore, but it was fun to see it with her again several (!) years later.

Happy birthday, my sweet goblin princess.