Well, Maddie’s 3 and Bea’s 1 but Bea and 1 don’t rhyme. We were really lucky to have my dad and the A’s come celebrate with us!
Maddie told me she wanted a “butterflies & flowers” theme until I was done making 24 chocolate butterflies. Then she told me “I changed my mind. I want DRAGONS!”
She got butterflies.
Thank god my sister in law was there!! She appeared like a magic fairy princess around 6AM to help me with EVERYTHING and then she took photos at the party! I couldn’t have done it without her!
That’s my torso next to the cupcakes. I don’t like it but I DO like the colors of the veggies!
This was a pink & green park party. I spent all day Friday & the wee hours Saturday preparing everything. To be honest, my sister in law, angel, sent from Heaven, also spent the wee hours Saturday. And the later morning hours too. Oh, and she took all these photos as well. THANK YOU, ALLISON!
This is not a cupcake porn page.
Or is it?
Stay tuned for the cupcake HOW TO in the next posting…
Peanut butter & jelly sandwiches.
Cucumber/cream cheese sandwiches.
G hauling 3 of the cutest kids in the world around
Andrew & Grampa
Little Sylvie just turned 1 a couple of weeks prior. Happy Bday!
Aston mastered rings and now bowling.
Ava goes vertical!
The place is lousy with babies!
Thomas, Bella & Root Beer. Root Beer, you are NOT a gentleman.
Thanks for the idea, Charlotte!
Coffee filters + paint + a pipe cleaner = a butterfly!
"First you do this, and then you do that. Is anyone listening??"
"Where'd everyone go?"
Maddie did hers one-handed.
Aston, don't leave your cupcake here!
We absolutely LOVED having family there! We loved seeing friends at the party – friends we don’t get to see very often due to busy schedules and that pesky little thing called “work.” And I love baking and planning. But because of all the things I had to leave till the last minute…I was exhausted by the time the party started!
By the time this photo was taken I was too tired to get back up & light the candles on the cake.
The words of my mother in law rang in my head, “I always hated birthday parties.”
Next year G and I will be taking the girls to this place. They recently got a beer/wine license. Phew!
We came home and sat around watching football. (Not me, I wasn’t watching football.) Maddie loves having family around. And so do we.
Patsy, don’t blame Andrew for this:
And thanks to Allison, we got a family shot!
I have crazy eyes here.
Later that night, after a yummy dinner with margs at Gilbert’s, we finally cut the cake! This is an excellent triple layer chocolate cake that I made last fall. This time it was DRY. And I ran out of time to decorate it. But it was the candle ritual that mattered!
The next day we headed to the Natural History Museum.
Andrew & Allison had to leave soon so we finally opened presents. Ready….set…
I thought I’d never finish this posting & I hope you didn’t think you’d never stop reading it! Happy birthday to both our sweet girls!!
Bear with me – I am trying to make my recipes printable so you don’t have to print out 10 pages of wordy blog or splatter your laptop with sauce while you’re cooking. Btw: this is the EASIEST tomato sauce I’ve ever heard of or made!
This post is dedicated to my dear friend Meghan. She and Briar stopped by a few days ago. She’s my inspiration for the kale chips. How did she do it? She suggested, “You should try kale chips.” So I did.
G was watching college football so I thought I’d test these “chips” on him as we are eating healthier these days. Most of the time.
Kale. I used to be scared of kale. Not only did I not like the looks of it, but I didn’t know what to do with it. There are different kinds of kale. Some are bitter, some are curly, some are tasty raw & some aren’t. It was overwhelming! Lately though, I’ve been making dishes with kale and it’s really yummy & easy to prepare!
I looked at 4 or 5 recipes for the chips online and they were all the same basic idea:
Coat potato chip-sized pieces of kale in olive oil and bake. Salt to taste.
Mine turned out excellent. (Unlike some things I make which are not posted.) Here’s what I did:
1 bunch kale (curly is recommended but any kind will do)
2 tbsp olive oil
I planned to use the olive oil in spray form so as to go sparingly on the fat but then I said, “What the hay!” and dumped olive oil in. You’ll see. I don’t recommend you do that.
**PREHEAT OVEN OR TOASTER OVEN TO 350**
1. Cut the thick stem out of each leaf.
2. Cut or tear stemless leaves into potato chip-sized pieces.
3. Wash the kale. I am one of those people who is too lazy to wash veg that I plan on cooking because I believe the heat will kill anything on it. But this time I obeyed and I did see some actual earth (dirt) come off. I used a spinner. You can just rinse in a colander and dry with a clean kitchen towel if you don’t have a spinner. But you probably knew that. I add details like that for people who don’t cook or get anxiety about not having all the kitchen tools.
4. Toss in olive oil. I rinsed out & used the spinner bowl to save on dishes! I HATE doing dishes but I love making food. So I try to be strategic. I dumped olive oil in so who knows how much I added? I know how much: TOO MUCH. I would use 2 tbsp next time. Toss to coat leaves.
How much did I pour in there? 2 cups?? A quart?
I tossed the leaves with salad tongs.
5. Spread on a cookie sheet. Some people suggest using parchment paper but since I don’t know what parchment paper is I ignored that advice.
6. Set timer for 12 minutes.
Did I really need a picture of the timer? Heck yeah!
7. See what everyone else is doing.
8. Remove to a plate with paper towels, salt to taste & enjoy right away!
Let’s see how the meatatarian liked them:
He’s a phony. I don’t trust him a bit. Let’s go to someone who can’t tell a lie!
She likes them!! She really likes them!
These are really good but I could’ve eaten a lot more. I would make 2 bunches but they must be eaten right away!
1. seasoned salt instead of sea salt
2. soy sauce mixed with the oil instead of salt
3. a dash of balsamic vinegar before you pop in oven
ENJOY!!! If you have any variations on this please let me know! This recipe proves my belief that almost any veg tastes great coated in olive oil & baked. Stay tuned for Toaster Oven Brussel Sprouts…
First & foremost, today is my sister, Libby’s birthday so, HAPPY BIRTHDAY LIBBY!!! To a sweet sister & aunt from us. We love you tons and wish we could be with you on this special day. I hope everyone in FFLD is treating you right!
Next, I haven’t posted anything in a while because we were out of town and frankly, I don’t seem to get much done now that Bea’s crawling. By much I mean anything, including taking a shower. While I have been cooking I haven’t been able to post pix but I will be back on that this month.
We had an excellent excuse to go back east a few weeks ago: G’s cousin Paula was getting married in Albany. Of course there are no direct flights but let’s not get into that.
Beautiful bride Paula
Paula & Dave had an intimate wedding in her gorgeous backyard.
Moments after this photo Maddie quietly asked me if she could eat. I told her we’d eat as soon as the ceremony was over which would be in approximately 5 minutes. She threw her head back & sobbed. Then she sobbed & sobbed & sobbed to be sure we didn’t think she was messing around. She and I had a nice tour of the neighborhood after that.
Bea dozed through the ceremony.
We left right around here. It was a beautiful wedding and very moving to have been invited. We all loved Dave and are not just a little jealous of their upcoming honeymoon in Nepal. VERY happy for you both!
After the ceremony & some Bloody Mary’s it was off to the races. That’s right – Saratoga Race Track! We had an amazing lunch, drinks & watched the horses. G may have won some money. I have no idea how to bet on the horses – trifecta, exacta, superfecta…all I know is I need to do work on my bicepta(s). Do you know I just found out biceps is not spelled with a t? I am 41 years old and learned this yesterday at the gym. A lot of people would be embarassed to admit that.
The next day Dave’s parents had a cookout on Sacandaga Lake. Too bad it rained but we enjoyed it since we don’t get too much rain. Bea loved crawling around in the soaking wet grass.
G holding about 50 lbs of LG (Little Girl).
Another newlywed – Chris Daniels – who just married G’s sister
We headed for Northampton after a few days.
Bea turned 1 on the 7th.
1st Birthday breakfast in Amherst
Garsh – I meant to take a lot of pictures but it was raining and we were struggling with strollers & squirmy kids. We spent a night in Northampton at my alma mater. Jack & Patsy were shocked at how little I knew about the town etc. I became shocked after I saw how shocked THEY were! What was I DOING there besides driving a catering van around and eating skyrises of hummingbird cake, veggie strollers & tempeh??
I don’t know but whatever I was doing obviously didn’t involve academics.
Since it was so rainy, we stopped at the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst. It was a dismal, dreary day. G and I empathized with that cold, miserable weather and the freshman dreads that go with it. All those unloved papers on Faulkner due Monday, Wednesday or Friday. Aggh. Don’t make me go back to school. And if you do, please do it in Hawaii or Barbados.
Anyway, the museum was the perfect birthday stop! We still had a 3+ hour drive ahead of us so we thought we ought to let the kids move around first.
These large paintings line the walls of the entrance and are intended to evoke something – a feeling of being in moving water, forest or the sun etc. And they DO!
There’s a library:
I'm 1 today!
Lookit what Maddie and I found in the bathroom! All you readers of “Polar Bear, Polar Bear” should recognize these…(Thanks Lib & Rachel for the Eric Carle books!)
I couldn't get over it!
There’s also an art studio:
Very kid friendly – well, it's a kids' museum after all.
There is a gorgeous little art gallery of childrens’ book illustrators. I could’ve stayed for hours!! Unfortunately (for me) and fortunately (for the illustrations) they didn’t allow photos there.
M and I checked out the bathroom ONE MORE TIME on the way out:
Finally, around 3 or 4PM we set out for Newburyport where we planned to visit my mom’s cousins and hopefully the family cemetery. We also planned to meet up with a friend from a long time ago when we got there but by now it was so late, we had to reschedule. That was a big disappointment since I haven’t seen her since my infamous Governor Dummer days but hopefully next summer…
3.5+ hours later, after driving through rush hour in the rain, we celebrated Bea’s first birthday with dinner in downtown Newburyport.
I didn’t notice Bea munching on a crayon until now! No wonder she didn’t want any cake.
Bea, you are the sweetest, silliest little girl with a toothy grin!! You’re absolutely into everything, exhausting & so much fun. We are so lucky to have you in our lives and we love you so much!! Happy Birthday little Beezy!!!
The next morning Jack & Patsy walked around Newburyport while G, M, B & I went to see Cousin Priscilla at her assisted living home. Her daughter Susan helped coordinate the whole think (lucky for us!) so we were able to join them for lunch.
Priscilla is my mom’s first cousin though she is 93 years old. She is sharp as a tack and full of stories. I wish I could’ve heard her better over the kids. We had lunch with her and then went up to her room. She had a little rocking chair out for Maddie to sit on.
After that we visited my mom.
And then showed Jack & Patsy the tombstone DIRECTLY ACROSS from my mom’s:
Maddie ran around…
…looked at brightly colored mushrooms:
until it was time to go see my mom’s other cousin – Natalea.
Natalea’s younger than Priscilla. She’s only 92. She gave us a tour of the downstairs of her quite historical house. Seeing how much I have moved throughout my life, it was fun and sad thinking of the Thanksgivings we spent there as children with all the adults “above” us, sheltering us from life, mostly gone. And to think of even 5-6 years ago when I was in Newburyport, riding in Natalea’s VW with Priscilla while they told me about which house various relatives lived in at which time and Priscilla’s family home which is now condos etc. Now they can’t get out to lunch and in the car as easily. Who, besides they, remember all the stories?
We were so rushed I didn’t have time to buy flowers for my mom. I want to go back next summer and stay in Newburyport for a week so I can see everyone longer and properly put flowers on my dear mom’s grave.
After visiting with Natalea for a few hours, we got our cranky nap-less kids into the car and headed to Cambridge to see Nina. Unfortunately, we didn’t get any photos b/c I left the camera in the car. It was a really fun visit because we also met up with Sheherazade and little Leo, Ian, and on Friday night, a friend from Londonttown – Renato – showed up. WOW!!! Nina took us in, fed us, and let us take over her bedroom, kitchen, bathroom & condo. Thank you, Nina! We had such a nice time and loved seeing you & catching a tiny glimpse of your life.
It was really a special trip and we are hoping to go back again soon!
Did I mention how many tomatoes I have right now? What’s a person to do with all this bounty? Go to the farmer’s market and buy MORE cherry tomatoes b/c they’re such a good deal! And that’s just what I did.
Now, besides popping them in my mouth and eating one after another, what to do with them? Somebody send me this recipe for Giada De Laruentils’ Pasta Ponza. For some reason I keep calling it Pasta Ponzi but that’s not right. Anyway, I like this recipe because it’s easy, it involves the staple of my kids’ diet: noonels (otherwise known as noodle/pasta) and a ton of cherry tomatoes. Plus, I had all the ingredients handy.
These tomatoes are AMAZING!!! Not the tasteless things I get at Trader Joe’s which are imported etc. These are from a local farm and sooooo sweet & yummy!
Maddie ate some while I prepared them. Bea emptied the drawer of plastic containers & lids all over the floor. Then she leaned against the drawer closing it on her hand. Then she shrieked. When she was done shrieking, she went over & did it again.
- 4 c cherry tomatoes (or grape or whatEV you can get your hands on!)
- olive oil
- 1 lb pasta – the original recipe recommends tubular pasta but I didn’t have it so I used something curly
- 1/2 c breadcrumbs (seasoned Italian)
- 1/4 c capers (rinsed & drained)
- fresh ground black pepper
- 1 1/4 c Pecorino Romano cheese (grated)
- 1/4 c chopped Italian parsley (I totally forgot this as you can see)
1. Set oven to 375 and grease a baking dish. I used a glass lasagna dish & sprayed with olive oil spray.
2. Cut all tomatoes in half. Try not to eat half of each one while doing that.
These tomatoes are good looking!
3. Toss in a large bowl (you can re-use this bowl at the end – save bowls!!) with the capers, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper. I’m not a stickler for measuring the oil, salt or pepper and you needn’t be either!
I just realized this looks kind of gross with the salted capers. Like hairy little eyeballs. Or something. Note to self: spoon salt to the side in a tidy pile next time.
Stir to coat tomatoes evenly. Much better!
4. Spoon into greased baking pan.
Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top of tomatoes. Drizzle or spray olive oil on top. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
5. About 15 or 20 minutes into the baking, boil your water for the pasta.
NOTE: I forgot this both times but save 1 or 2 cups of the pasta water before you dump the pasta! You can use this later if your pasta needs it.
Some people can’t wait the 15-20 minutes remaining and have to be fed instant macaroni & cheese PRONTO.
And they’re STILL not happy.
6. Take out your baked tomato mixture.
I probably could’ve used more olive oil drizzled on top of the breadcrumbs.
7. After saving 1-2 c of your hot pasta water, dump your pasta out. Combine in the big bowl you used earlier with the baked tomatoes mixture. Add cheese & stir gently. Add some of that water you saved if your pasta needs it (if you think it’s too dry.) Add parsley if you remember to!
This is SO tasty! Both the kids liked it though not that night. Here’s what they did while we were waiting for the pasta.
and They did enjoy it for lunch the next day. It’s really easy and a lot tastier than jar sauce (though it does make more dishes to clean than jar sauce…) As always, I’d love to hear feedback below if you try this dish!