Saturday, May 09, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Harry & Cooper made me these beautiful flowers and cards at their craft class yesterday.

I love them, and they mean more to me than words can say.
Inside the cards, it is written:

Let me tell you a story about the perfect mom...
"Once upon a time, there was you! The End."
Happy Mother's Day!

These flowers are the best, because they are everlasting, like the love between a mother and a child.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Fairy strange behavior

A certain family with four boys is going to break the Tooth Fairy if the boys keep losing teeth at the rate they have been.
These children seem to be on a roll, losing one tooth after another. A couple weeks ago, there were two teeth from two boys on the same night. There was another one Tuesday night. That's a lot of commerce and outlay for a fairy who doesn't seem altogether organized.
There was one night last year when the Tooth Fairy missed her transaction, presumably due to sleeping through the night. It's almost as if she took fairy ambien or something. Another time, I heard she showed up, but couldn't see anything because it was so dark in the bedroom, and I guess she couldn't see what money she was leaving under the pillow, so instead of two dollars, she left Wyatt two $10-dollar bills for his tooth.
That was exciting! For him.
Come to think of it, there doesn't seem to be great consistency regarding what the Tooth Fairy leaves for a tooth. Sometimes the boys will get a couple dollars, sometimes a fiver for a molar; there's no telling what to expect. Does she not carry cash?
I wouldn't be surprised if one time she left a check under the pillow.
It's not entirely her fault, I theorize, because these four boys play musical beds. They'll start out in a particular bed, and put the tooth under the pillow, but then sometime in the middle of the night, they move to another bed, and then the Tooth Fairy has trouble tracking the tooth. It's like a soft shell game played in the dark, and she needs a GPS tracker, or LoJack.
Her reliability may be questionable, but when she does fly through, she always leaves a trail of sparkly, fine pixie dust in her wake. Whichever boy loses a tooth, when he finally gets his money from her, also wakes up with sparkles in his hair and on his pillow. I think it falls off her wings, or is a sort of fairy contrail. The boys once expressed wonder at what she does with all those teeth, why she takes them.
They must mean something to her.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Full steam ahead

How to make this long story short...
Well, starting at the sort-of beginning, I'll just give the background and say that we moved into this house the night before Christmas Eve, and it was four months after my mom had died unexpectedly. Cooper was, therefore, seven months old, and I was a virtual zombie. Depressed, totally overwhelmed, and having trouble getting out of bed let alone keeping up with cleaning the house. Alright, so you get the picture.
This went on for several more months, and then we got a pretty little flier in the mail that was nicely typed and laid out, bordered with colorful leaves, and advertising the help of a lady I'll call Julie, who offered cleaning and organizing solutions for people like me.
"Everybody Needs a Julie," it said.
Troy suggested that we give her a call, and I agreed. Reading the flier also revealed that Julie was religious and had done a little missionary work. Being a non-religious type, when I met her for the first time, I asked if "that" would be a problem for her. The fact that we had very different beliefs. I told her I was overwhelmed and that I just couldn't get my shit together since my mom died, and Julie looked at me blankly, like she didn't understand, and this was, of course, because she believed that my mom was in heaven & okay -- though her death had been the work of The Devil, because nobody should die at that age (63).
I won't get into the ensuing conversation, because that's a lot, but we ended up agreeing to give each other a try, and I actually liked the fact that Julie was so black and white about things. At least she and I knew where we were both coming from.
That was two years ago, and over time, I guess if you're reading this you have a general idea of what I've been doing. Julie and her partner (and I use that word ambiguously but again, that's another story for another time), Jennifer, helped me keep the house clean, they helped me go through my mom's house when it sold, and they helped me keep my head above water.
In the beginning, I was too numb to care when Julie talked to me about her beliefs and how I could maybe benefit from her knowledge of the Bible. I asked her sincere questions and thought about her answers. And then I started making sure I was out of the house when she and Jennifer came to clean, because they were getting on my nerves.
They objected to some of the stuff I had around the house, like this picture of a bunch of witches having tea. But they would never come right out and say that they objected to certain things, rather, they would hint around about how I might be letting in The Devil, and insinuate that the bastard might make things a little rough for me if I didn't shape up.

As much as I grew to dislike Julie and Jennifer, I still was reluctant to fire them because I really wanted someone to clean my floors. I know that's so lazy and shallow, but it's true. I'm not proud.
But like a bad relationship that is spiraling downward, the crack grew larger until the day when Julie called and told me she and Jennifer were dumping us in order to focus more on their ministering.
I knew she was lying.
It was really because I had gotten better and was not so seemingly pliable and agreeable. I wasn't giving her as much stuff, and I had cut her hours. It had been just a matter of time, really, and that was fine. I was actually relieved. I wished her well in her future endeavors ministering to the poor people of the International Shopping Plaza in Tampa, where she liked to ambush people and tell them they didn't need their Vicodin. When I hung up the phone and announced to Troy and the boys that we'd been dumped, they cheered, because they'd all grown to dislike Julie and Jennifer, too, for trying to pray over them if they had fevers and interrupting their xbox time with the vacuum.
My mixed emotions were all a-jumble because, as glad as I was that we had broken up, I was also a bit sad that it was time to move on, and go it alone. As annoying and manipulative as Julie could be, she had helped me through a very dark and hard time, and I really couldn't have done it without her --especially boxing up my mom's things.
When I let everything sink in, it wasn't long before I started to mentally freak about about how I was going to clean the house by myself, and I was also just slightly annoyed that Julie had broken up with me before I'd gotten to her first.

So that was three weeks ago, and we're doin' alright.
Yesterday I got a steam mop and this morning I used it for the first time with great success. Fueled by Cafe Bustelo, the little Cuban coffee that could launch a shuttle to the moon, I cranked up the soundtrack to "Mamma Mia!" and some Dandy Warhols, and I steamed. And it was good.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Checking out


Here are some of the things I bought yesterday. I am trying lately to buy healthy stuff...but the boys love Kraft macaroni and cheese (they do have an organic version now, but sometimes I still get the original).
I don't care what Marcella Hazan says -- I love Barilla pasta, and the boys love these new miniature wheels and bowties.
Rhubarb -- I think I'll make the crumble I just saw on Tamra Davis' website.
I'm still addicted to San Pellegrino, and lately am into this Sonoma-Cutrer Chardonnay. I never used to drink much white wine, let alone Chardonnay, which for a while was over-oaked, but the California vintners corrected this a while ago and now it's a crisp & cool choice.
Not pictured: mahi-mahi, feta cheese, rice milk, chocolate milk, whole milk, Kozy Shack chocolate pudding, and Rachel Ray's "Nutrish" dog food.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Little moves

Today is Earth Day, and I needed to go grocery shopping. It was one of those trips where we were out of EVERYTHING, and so I bought a lot of food. Now, I do have a few green bags, but of course have yet to truly organize myself to have them 1.) together; and 2.) in the car. Publix had these special Earth Day bags on promotion so that they cost $ .80 a bag. Eighty cents -- that's nothing! Since I'd been meaning to do this long ago, of course I bought some.
I was amazed and thrilled at the amount of stuff you can fit into the bags! Look at this!

Normally, this haul would take a ton of plastic bags and even the paper bags are not very strong (and whenever I ask for paper, the cashiers and baggers look at me like I'm a pain in the ass). These re-useable bags are super-strong and durable, and can be washed in cold water on the delicate cycle and air dried when necessary. Perfect. I just emptied them, folded them flat, and put them back into the car trunk.
I also bought some pretty Spring tulips, and the cashier gave me some special paper pads with wildflower seeds in them, for the boys to plant. Very nice!

Friday, April 17, 2009

"Vita Bella"

"When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's amore."
-Dean Martin


Yesterday was our 15th wedding anniversary. Throughout the day, I spent some time thinking about our marriage and the time we've been together; how much has changed, what's remained the same, and about our actual wedding. It was neat to be able to know exactly what I was doing 15 years ago, because I remember it so clearly.
After consulting my gastronomical advisor, Mannix, about what to make for dinner, and getting lots of great advice, I went on to do absolutely nothing he told me to do. This kind of behavior, incidentally, is something Troy has tolerated with great patience over the years -- he claims that I will ask his opinion and then do the exact opposite, but of course that's not the case. All discussions leading up to my decisions are helpful & meaningful to me. The bottom line was that I wanted to make a nice meal to celebrate our anniversary, but didn't have a lot of time and did not have much energy to boot.
Of course I got Champagne. I also threw in a little root beer for the boys, since they were celebrating with us. That's something different; when we started out together, we had one cat.

When we were at the grocery store, the boys begged me to buy them TV dinners, and I caved. TV dinners always seem a little festive to me because of the colorful packaging and the fact that my sister and I rarely got to eat them when we were kids.
For Troy and myself, I grilled swordfish and asparagus, made a fresh herb salsa verde, and mushroom risotto. Really good.

One sweet surprise, was that I'd bought a bottle of Frog's Leap wine, which we served at our wedding, to have with dinner. Troy was thinking along the same lines, and came home bearing a bottle, too. Another nice thing was that our divergent musical paths crossed during dinner prep, when we decided on The Police as our evening's soundtrack. Hm..."Don't Stand So Close to Me," and "I Can't Stand Losing You." "Murder by Numbers."
We had a chocolate wedding cake, and I always get fanatical about homemade cakes on special occasions, but a valuable lesson Mannix has taught me is to never feel silly about buying one, either. That's good advice. So I got this Pepperidge Farms chocolate layer cake from the Frozen Foods section. Hey, it was pretty good! (I didn't make our wedding cake either, after all.)

Lucky and the other animals enjoyed the feast along with us.

Those vows were no joke -- our marriage really has been for better or worse, for richer or poorer, and in sickness and in health. The dress code last night was pretty relaxed, with the boys showing up in their underwear. I was once again inexplicably wearing white. Cheers!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Teddy Bear

I never get tired of reading the boys the poems in "When We Were Very Young," by A.A. Milne, it's so wonderful.
Coming from a mother who loved bears (her name was Baerbel, and her sisters sometimes called her "Baerchen"), it so happened that I grew up with a number of bears my whole life. They reside with me still.
Now Cooper has a favorite bear of his own, who is very, very soft. His name is Beary. I'm not sure if it's Beary or Barry, or maybe Barrie, because Cooper doesn't spell, nor does he care (but I still wonder all the time). I often find Beary lounging around, and my understanding of his personality comes largely from the first section of Milne's poem "Teddy Bear."

A bear, however hard he tries,
Grows tubby without exercise.
Our Teddy Bear is short and fat
Which is not to be wondered at;
He gets what exercise he can
By falling off the ottoman,
But generally seems to lack
The energy to clamber back.



My love for him grows greater with each passing day.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

I just got done setting the table and the boys are in the pool burning off some of their Easter sugar, which was their breakfast.

I lit a candle for my Mom, thinking of her because today is/was her birthday, and I miss her, of course.

Also, I'm using her china, which is a beautiful basketweave pattern.

And a little dish with a painted picture of rosemary on it, I'm using to hold salt. "Rosemary for remembrance."


The boys and I colored eggs last night, which was really fun.

And here is an Easter card Harry made. I think it's adorable.

We'll be having ham, mushroom risotto, asparagus, and maple-roasted sweet potatoes, so I've got to get cracking, and will try to keep any sugary-teary breakdowns at bay with some Prosecco.
These coconut cupcakes are for dessert, later.

Here's to family & friends, near and far, at our table or in our hearts.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Daffodowndilly


She wore her yellow sun-bonnet,
She wore her greenest gown;
She turned to the south wind
And curtsied up and down.
She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
"Winter is dead."

-A.A. Milne

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Messy Sunday

I've got mountains of laundry awaiting my attention, but for the time-being, I'm enjoying a rainy Sunday morning, and some of the messiness only seems like evidence of happiness.
Bed head...

Wet, muddy dogs...

Empty cappuccino bowl...

Along with a perfect spiced pumpkin bread...

...and a cuddly cat.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Trying to be a locavore!

For some time now I've been meaning to sign up for a local produce box, and reading Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle spurred me to seek out an organic source and get started.
This is my first pick-up, and I am really impressed with the quality.
The arugula has a fantastic flavor, and the basil is lush and green -- no black spots like you're sometimes stuck with when buying the plastic-wrapped herbs from the supermarket.
I also got radicchio, eggs, Boston lettuce, gorgeous fennel, Italian parsley, strawberries, and a giant onion.

All of this was presented in the cute basket for a grand total of $27, which seems like a great price to me. I think I would have paid a lot more at Whole Foods, and it would not have all been so fresh and locally grown. There's no need to compare it with the stuff from the supermarket b/c that shit's been travelling around the globe in dark boxes. So, I feel good about what I'm getting for the price I'm paying, while giving support to local farmers.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Foolish Charlotte

Strawberries are in season here and we've been eating a ton of them. I finally found some rhubarb at the grocery store, and stewed it down with some sugar and then combined it with whipped cream, the berries, and some ladyfingers to make a combination fool/Charlotte. Very light and delicious!

I regret not getting the Charlotte pan I was contemplating when Julie and I shopped at E. Dehillerin a few years ago -- it would have been much more elegant than my aluminum foil contraption. But it works.

Oh, and I used Siesta Key rum hot off the still, mixed w/water, to dip the biscuits in before placing them into the mould.

Now that I've learned the formula, I find Charlottes so easy to make and they're very pretty. It's just a matter of assembling and then letting the form sit for an hour or more to allow all the components to meld together.


Try one!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Birds

One of my favorite places in Sarasota is Jungle Gardens. It's a laid-back, old-school FL attraction, with magnificent tropical birds and reptiles, primarily. Visitors are able to observe the creatures up close. The grounds are lush, dotted with ponds filled with turtles. Flamingos roam freely...which sort of freaks me out...

...but, still, I like this environment so much more than any slick park.
This is Roxanne the Macaw. She weighs about 5 lbs. Isn't she beautiful?

Friday, March 06, 2009

We have rum!


The big cardboard container is filled with molasses.



Rum!

Today's the day!

To make the rum!
Here's the pristine set-up, ready to go.

For the past few days, the molasses mixture has been fermenting, and today Troy will run the first distillation of white rum. Alex & Nick are here for support and to make sure everything works as it should.
We'll get to taste it tonight! I'm ready with my "[Fill in your city] Sunset" cocktail recipe.

2 drops of grenadine syrup in the bottom of an ice-filled glass
1 jigger white rum
splash of Amaretto
Top off with pineapple juice, don't stir.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

A moment in time


Yesterday there was the most striking sunset, it stopped me in my tracks. I stood outside for a while. You can see Venus in the sky.
It was so beautiful, but also sad because I knew that at sundown, the search for three poor young men lost in the Gulf would be called off by the Coast Guard. It never fails to amaze me how life can be simultaneously so awesome and tragic.

A Boundless Moment by Robert Frost
He halted in the wind, and--what was that
Far in the maples, pale, but not a ghost?
He stood there bringing March against his thought,
And yet too ready to believe the most.

'Oh, that's the Paradise-in-bloom,' I said;
And truly it was fair enough for flowers
had we but in us to assume in march
Such white luxuriance of May for ours.

We stood a moment so in a strange world,
Myself as one his own pretense deceives;
And then I said the truth (and we moved on).
A young beech clinging to its last year's leaves.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Our Favorite Books III - Nancy's Fancies


Please forgive me for that header, cringe cringe, but I couldn't help myself, since I'd rhymed the previous "Our Favorite Books" lists.
My friend Nancy is a naturalized Texan-->Californian, which says a lot and represents many of the best traits a person can possess. She studied Faulkner and is a real live-wire, so much so, that I see she doesn't stop for caps and other superfluous punctuation that can slow down the reader -- just like our Texan favorite, Cormac McCarthy.
After recently finding myself up clenching my teeth reading "All the Pretty Horses," I fired off an email to Nancy to try to feel out whether or not the main character was doomed or not. She didn't get my hopes up nor spoil the ending for me, which was just right. She also occasionally reassures me that my son will grow up to be a civilized and contributing member of society.
Here then, are some of her favorite books, and I'd like to say thank you and wish her a very Happy Birthday today!
Or rather happybirthdaygirl!

"east of eden" is one of my favorites also - likewise "the grapes of wrath" - i like so many books, hard to choose - "lonesome dove", more recently "the kite runner" and "water for elephants", anything by annie proulx, "the historian" (so much so that i may reread it sometime soon, "seabiscuit", "flyboys", and "no country for old men".

add to list bel canto, poisonwood bible, perfume, and don't let's go to the dogs tonight - as for cormac, never hope for a happy ending - his most recent novel i couldn't even attempt to read, and i am a huge fan.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Friday, February 27, 2009

Big Bird

A Grey Heron strolling around the neighborhood.
video
I am pretty sure he is saying, "Stay away from me." (We did.)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Quiet time


“Each cup of tea represents an imaginary voyage.” -Catherine Donzel

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!





Wishing you love & happiness!