September 24, 2012

White gingerbread

First off, this coming Sunday is the Chinese mid-autumn, or mooncake festival.  It is one of my most favorite cultural celebrations to share in as I tweak it for the start of autumn here in Vermont.  I've already ordered our mooncakes to help with the celebration because seriously-  any festival that has tasty treats accompanying it gets my vote of approval!  Go check out mooncakes- they are stunning little edible beauties. 

The other thing happening this weekend is a wedding!  Dear friends of ours who live right up the road and who will have the most stunning Fall weekend ever to get married- much love to you, C and N!

No, no... wait for it...

here's the actual beautiful bride (even though our toilet paper wedding dresses were pretty convincing, huh?).  All of this is just to take the round about way of saying this week is busy.  Last week was busy.  I'm kind of losing my mind in all this busyness and so having lovely things like weddings and moon festivals to focus on helps me catch my breath once in a while.

Also?  Seeing my baby boy basking in sunlight.

 Also? white gingerbread.  You came for the gingerbread after all...

White Gingerbread - Marcia Marcoux, Gooseberry Patch "Fall, Family, Friends"
1C oil                                             1t salt
2 and 1/3C sugar, divided     1t baking soda
2t nutmeg                                   1 and 1/3C buttermilk (I use kefir)
4C flour                                        1/8t vanilla
(I add 3 shakes of ginger)

- Combine oil, 2C sugar and nutmeg (also ginger if using) in a bowl.  Add flour, vanilla, salt, baking soda and buttermilk.  Spread into a jelly pan if you want it brownie style, or 8x11ish pan and sprinkle with remaining sugar.  Bake 350* for approx 20 minutes- depending on pan size.  Serve plain, with whipped cream, or as I recently did- with a vanilla cream cheese frosting.

                                                It's that good.
I don't know where to go next now that the post is ended: Finish sorting the basement?  Make the preschool snack?  Do the dishes?  Print out the photos?  Make the beds for wedding guests?  Wash the diapers? Make those phone calls?  FINALLY answer e-mails? Prep the meals for weekend guests...

Ahhh...  ok then.  Feel free to feast your eyes on Ace whenever you need a breather this week- may it hold the same charm as it does for me.

September 21, 2012

The New York concert that never was...

There's been a bit of such and such happening behind the scenes here.  Most of it has been wonderful, some- like my family getting sick, sick, sick- has not been as lovely.  I have just a moment... want to hear how I escaped to New York City with my girlfriends for two days?

 A year's worth of planning and it all came to fruition earlier this week.  It was my girlfriends' idea- they were right to push me towards a get-away since every Mama deserves a moment to herself now and again.  We were to go to New York.  To Central Park.  To see the Avett Brothers and eat delicious Manhattan food.  I dreamed great dreams about it for many months...

And so by car, then train we arrived in Grand Central Station and spilled out onto the pavement, ready and waiting for the hours ahead.  You know what else was ready and waiting for the evening ahead?  A tornado.  Really though, could a weather phenomenon destroy our excitement?  Dampen for sure, but we had our rose colored glasses with us (and my heavy duty Nantucket raincoat too) so we walked on, only occasionally peering up at the skies.

It started to rain during dinner of pad thai.  It rained as we got on the subway, the winds blew and there were moments of flashing in the sky.  It rained harder and harder, but we were on a mission (and hadn't gotten a concert cancellation e-mail), so we tossed our water drenched heads and continued on to Central Park only to get word that the outdoor concert was cancelled.

Did that get us down?  Only for a moment because we still had our rose colored glasses on and the magic of NYC had yet to fully be revealed.  On our way out of the park we came across a couple and confirmed for them that the concert was cancelled.  They had umbrellas so we huddled under them and  modestly accepted their compliments that we were the cheeriest people they had seen in New York all week: with that, we offered them our tickets for free- saying we could not return for the reschedule.  At fifty dollars a piece we seemed quite generous, or delirious from the rainwater; it was at that very moment that New York City looked down on us in our useless, wind-whipped raincoats and smiled.

The city sometimes gets a bad wrap for being selfish and dangerous with callous people intent on helping only themselves.  One sometimes thinks of high crimes and traffic jams regularly occurring, but I'm telling you on this particular night, in the midst of an intense storm, we felt the warmth of the city through and through.  Our new found friends were grateful for the tickets and took us out to celebrate.  They paid all the tabs and helped us find a taxi to navigate back to the hotel.  It's a story that would scare the pants off me if any of my children came home to announce they had spent the night hanging with strangers in New York City, and yet it played out so perfectly I'd do it again in an instant.

Sometimes you need to assess the risk and then just go for it- afterwards, you will have an amazing story to tell.

PS: Bear and Ace, don't ever do this. ;)

September 14, 2012

Cat community room

I didn't see it coming.  Didn't even fathom it because I, myself, have always been a dog person: I grew up with a dog, I worked at a dog academy, I adopt pitbulls...  I am a  dog person.  Bear is a dog lover, but he is much much more a Cat Person.  I am certain it stems from this.

 Cat or dog, he shows a special affinity for shelter animals and an awareness of why in our family, we chose to adopt when looking to add a furry friend to our home.  No new family member has been adopted just yet, but we do enjoy visiting the shelter regularly.

When Bear had his birthday, he requested that the guests bring items for the shelter.  He was so pleased with all that his guests brought and took great pride in hauling the donations into the shelter.  That day a connection was made for him 
when he realized his small, but important gesture was going to help his beloved cats.

He pulled my hand in to the cat community room and announced to all the felines that he had brought them dinner.  Then he beamed and stood quiet for a moment.  I'm telling you, a split second later five of the more personable cats came running to rub against his legs.  He slowly bent down to pet them and speak to them in low tones full of syllables I could not understand.  Those cats followed him around the whole time he was there.

It is beyond difficult to take pictures of moving cats.  Couple that with a baby in a side sling and a euphoric, cat whispering 4 year old and you might understand why most of my pictures from the day were like the one above.  As fleeting as the cats were to my camera lens, the impact they had and continue to have on Bear is indelible.

Since this visit we've been back many a time.  Sometimes bringing kibble, always bringing attention and affection from Bear. It's quite a symbiotic relationship he shares with those cats: they give him the love and purrs and snuggly head bumps he can't get enough of, and they give him the ability to see that one small act of giving can have rippling effects.  He gives them a willing and respectful recipient of their need to act as if they are in our living room, simply playing with the little boy of the family.   

My heart goes out to all the animals at the shelter making the best of their situation without a peep- they have certainly taught me something about gratitude.  Don't ask me if we are getting a cat.  We barely have begun to start the process to find a dog brother or sister for Trot.  There are many many reasons I could cite as to why we do not need a cat, but that is not what this post is about.  

I don't ruminate on my feline allergies, or how guests would handle a cat in our house when we are in the community room.  I look at Bear navigating in and out of the play area and yard with his pied piper following of felines.  With ease he moves about giving this one a toy mouse, that one a scratch between the ears.  To the big tabby male glaring down at him from above, he sends a smile and the words "enjoy your nap"- at four he knows to not even think about touching that tomcat.  Where in the world did he gain that knowledge?  Certainly not from me.  I believe immersion in the animal language is just as important more important than studies of Spanish or French.  Bear is a cat whisperer because of his time spent in lessons.  His heart already was compassionate but exposures like these help meld it into the animal advocate I hope for him to become- even if that means some day he will own a cat cats.

September 13, 2012

Wild Rodeo Ride kind of day

 Bear asked for a little sling time of his own and I nearly swooned.  I miss his baby days sometimes.

I'm a bit saddled down with daily life today, but I'll be back tomorrow to tell you about Bear's favorite spot at our local animal shelter: the cat community room.

For today, I leave you with a few pictures from our past weeks.  I've been cleaning up the files for the end of the month and found a few winners:

We went to a rodeo out in the middle of nowhere- even by Vermont's standards.

               I love this shot because of the cowboy in focus

 Friends!  Family!  Finally!  Bear's 4 year old photos will be on their way to your eager hands soon.

Ace continues to love up on the piano.

Dad- the grapes did well, but the birds wanted their fair share.

I continue to study up on my camera.  Holy Moly there's so much to learn!!!!

Lots of small friends to attend to - another reason why I must say goodbye until tomorrow...

September 11, 2012


A while back I took pictures of the garden.  I never got around to posting them and now it's harvest time: the season of potatoes instead of potato blossoms and multiplying cucumbers rather than stagnant vines.  No matter, I'm not really one to post much about my garden anyway.

Of course I love love love being able to walk around my yard and figure out elements of a meal or eye up perspective produce to be frozen or canned for the months ahead- it's for this reason that I will continue on about my garden love today.  I do believe each plant and leaf and stem to be utterly amazing and it is easy to send up prayers of gratitude while eating a perfectly ripened heirloom tomato. 

The produce gives gifts not only to the plate.  Time and time again I am grateful as I look out the kitchen window to see Bear diligently gathering up ingredients for our latest dinner or lunch.  Each item from my list ticked off in his head as he goes from the carrot patch to the rosemary to the dirt covered onions.  That night's dinner was a vegetable soup, but need I tell you how much more than that it was to Bear?  To me?

If, before children, you had asked me about the pleasures of Mamahood a garden can hold, I would have mentioned digging in the dirt together, planting seeds here and there, but I could have never envisioned this.  He's my young harvester, my creative prep chef.  He is a delight to watch navigate the garden with an ease that took me years to develop.  He knows how arugula grows.  He connects Harvest time with the geese overhead.

The other is following close behind; nibbling raw beans, inspecting rocks, and always holding a bit of dirt to his lips.  I don't encourage the tasting, but secretly I find it enchanting even as I wipe his face clean.  What has he just learned that I might never know?

Tonight I almost (almost) licked the dirt off the long neck squash in the hopes of finding something magical.  As I began to chop it and add it to the pot I looked out my kitchen window and there it was: my boys, my garden, my own something magical.

PS: those potato blossoms?  They turned on into these giants...

PPS: I acknowledge today's somber anniversary and I send blessings to all of you...

September 08, 2012

scuba guys

             May your weekend be going swimmingly.

September 06, 2012

Montessori: Space

I rode out Bear's love of Star Wars with a recent bout of activities centering around space.  I don't home school, but I do like to have educational lessons with Bear whenever we can- Montessori helps a lot with this because we can learn it together and then, with confidence,  he begins to complete certain lessons on his own.  So anyway, Space!  Eased around visitors, vacation, free wheeling summer and sudden needs to go to the skatepark; here are a few of the activities we did:

 - Bear used tongs to fill an "A is for astronaut" paper with "moon rocks" he had found on our walkway.

- sensory tub filled with rice and model space equipment.

- 3 part series cards to help review and match the planets
- a set of factual space cards we regularly refer to (from here, although I don't see them right now on the site)

- I printed out moon cards with craters on them to count.  We then used those cards to count the craters and fill them with the correct amount of "moon rocks".  For us it was shape transparencies, but you could use any small thing.  

- with all this talk of moon rocks, we started observing Earth's rocks too.  I called on the curriculum from my VINS days to help me out.  I'd share it, but way back when, I had to sign a contract saying I wouldn't and Catholics don't like to break rules, you know.

 Next up, Bear has requested Beach/Scuba/Shark activities.  The Cape might just be his oasis too what with requesting ocean talk during apple and foliage season.  How dare he...

or rather, yeah!  Another excuse to post a beach picture!

edited to add: "educational lessons" as in more sit down, structured type activities around these parts.   

September 04, 2012

The final wave

The end is in sight- here's the last of the Cape Cod posts.  I know, how many beach pictures can a gal post, but we all savor our individual oasis and for me it's always been the Cape.  So for all you flip flop wearing, beach combing walkers out there-and our family too-here are more than enough pictures of our vacation for your viewing pleasure...

                      {Bear always, ALWAYS finds treasures at the beach}

                          {beach day in Falmouth}

                  {the "captain" boarding the ferry for Martha's Vineyard} 

                              {Woods Hole aquarium, Flying Horses carousel}

 {hey, I haven't mentioned yet that I promised myself not to edit any of the photos I took on vacation.  Only cropping allowed and I tell you what- it made for stress free photo uploading.  Maybe why there's so many on this post?!}

 {The best of Provincetown: Portuguese Dough and Whale Watching}

 {walking the path to our favorite beach spot in Woods Hole}

{Only when taking our usual family photo at the outlook do I fully become aware of what a difference a year makes...}

                                          {same path- last year, August 2011}

  I counted my blessings on that craggy cliff and found they were too numerous to record on my fingers.

* thanks Dad for some of these photos!

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