Sunday, February 28, 2010

Dear Elliott,

Come back! We miss you!

It was so much fun when you got here, coming home to a house full of my family :) (ok, maybe it was a tiny bit cramped with four people in a one-bedroom apartment?)  I know Viv had a lot of fun with you on Thursday "out on the town" (and into the wee hours of the morning)!

And what a beautiful day it was at Nahant (check out the pictures!), with you and T acting just like little boys again, scrambling all over the rocks and being as cute as two peas in a pod :)  Despite the clouds and wet and cold, and almost being washed away by a rogue wave, we had so much fun!

So hurry up and come back! We'll hold our breath :)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Cat in a Hat

"The sun did not shine.
It was too wet to play.
So we sat in the house
All that cold, cold, wet day.

I sat there with Sally.
We sat there, we two.
And I said, "How I wish
We had something to do!"

Too wet to go out
And too cold to play ball.
So we sat in the house
We did nothing at all.

So all we could do was to
Sit! Sit! Sit! Sit!
And we did not like it.
Not one little bit."

I could use a cat in a hat today to make the time pass more quickly.  It's not that I'm bored when it rains.  In fact, I really like being inside on cold, cold, wet days.  But sometimes I just can't wait to be done with work and go home.  I have lots I can do there :)

I could work on another mitten for a friend...

I could start two more of these:

one with these fabrics:

one with these:

I could make a case for all my knitting needles.  I could even make a "mini" case, for the two or so sets I need for any given project.

tick tick tick... hurry up and wait :P

Mei Tai II

Yes, I've made another one.  For me.  No, I still have no use for it.  But I've loaned my first one out to a couple people to test drive it for me, to see if it holds up :) Any takers for this colorful toddler mei tai?

Without further ado:

The "boy" side (that is worn with either a boy baby snuggled inside, or when my Sweet P'Taylor wears it)

The "girl" side (for a girl baby or for when I wear it. I love these flowers!) Doesn't it look like a butterfly? 

"Action" shot

I use quotation marks because the only action in this shot is me, posing. Due to the unfortunate lack of babies in the Boston area (boo!), I had to use a pillow for the "real" look.  For Easter, we're visiting friends with a baby. Maybe I can try it out with their sweet Madelyn!  :)

Friday, February 19, 2010


Everyone has best friends.  And among those best friends, there are varying levels of best-ness.  Taylor is my best friend in the world. That's why I married him.  He's the one person for whom I will forsake all others, even my family if that ever was necessary. That may sound harsh, and I hope I never have to leave my family or friends, but Taylor is my Love and it is his vocation to help me to heaven daily. I will follow him anywhere.

After Taylor, of course, comes my family.  I have a lot of family :)  And I love having so many family members because it means someone is always available to talk whenever I call (well, almost) :) It means that family get-togethers are wild and crazy and full of laughter and good food and jokes and memories. It means that you automatically have a whole gaggle of friends who love you by default. And that's grand :)

And then there are the best friends that we didn't marry and that aren't related to us.  Two of these best friends live in Texas. And they have very exciting news to share. They are now a family of five!  (That's right, Lydia, FIVE!)  Renee is expecting Baby #3!

And with the creation of Baby III, Renee will get to stay at home with her other two darling children!  (Which means I'll be able to call her a lot more often, too! Hope you won't mind, Renee!)

And you know what more babies means for T and me?  More babies to squish and Love and make things for!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Fish Tacos (Serves 4)

In honor of Ash Wednesday, I thought I would share a dish I put together last Friday.  I didn't have enough fish for three people (that is, enough fish to serve "on its own" so to speak) so I got some taco shells, beans, and other accoutrements, and went to work.

12 taco shells [I suppose you could use tortillas and have soft tacos, but I was really craving crunchy tacos]
1-2 c cooked beans of choice (or 1 can)
veggie condiments [in our case, guacamole, chopped tomatoes, and shredded lettuce]
1/2 c. grated cheese
1/2 pound fish of choice [I used mahi mahi]

  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees (on broil).
  2. Place fish in an oven safe dish and sprinkle with blackening seasoning and a drizzle of oil. Place in oven with the door ajar for 15 minutes. 
  3. Heat beans on the stove. I used some pinto beans I'd cooked previously (and frozen and defrosted) and fried them in a bit of bacon grease with chopped leftover onion and salt and pepper, so they turned out more like refried beans. You could use a can of those, too. 
  4. Prepare veggies.
    --I used two firm avocados (I think they would just barely have qualified as ripe), halved them and scooped the flesh into a food processor with the juice from half a lemon and about a quarter cup of green tomatillo salsa. Pulse in the food processor a few times until the avocado is in pea-sized chunks. Salt and pepper to taste.  I was really happy with this guac--it had more texture than other recipes I've made (with much more ripe avocados) and I really liked the perky flavor the tomatillos added.
    --I chopped the tomatoes in the food processor as well and plopped them on top of the guac when it was done. Chop two or three leaves of lettuce into thin slices on a cutting board. 
  5. Grate cheese. Set aside. 
  6. By this time, your fish should be done.  Make sure it's opaque in the center.  Don't worry about breaking it apart, that's the next step anyway :) 
  7. Break fish up with a fork and set aside in a bowl. 
  8. Set up all your items buffet style and assemble tacos:
    taco shell


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Do You Know What These Say?

Momma had a lot of earrings. A lot of earrings.  As a little girl, I remember wistfully sorting through her jewelry box, holding up her sparkly earrings up to my bitty ears, hoping one day I'd be old enough to wear them to a dance or on a date with a handsome young man.

One pair of earrings I inherited after Momma died were these:

I didn't know what they meant, but this deep turquoise is one of my favorite colors, so I added them to my pile.

The story, I think, was that she bought them in Japan.  I think they are the symbol for happiness, or some happy word, and women would wear this symbol when they were pregnant.

I've looked around online, though, and I'm fairly certain this isn't the kanji for happiness.  But, as far as I can tell, it's also not the kanji for mother, motherhood, baby, pregnant, expecting, future, offspring, progeny, or child(ren).  So I can't think what it might be.

Do you know what it means? If you figure it out, let me know! :)

In the meantime, assuming they are, in fact, the symbol that women wear when they're expecting, I've been wearing them!  We are, after all, starting the adoption process. And that means that we are, in the most appropriate sense of the term, parents-to-be (because really, if you're pregnant, you're a mother already.  (You don't have to wait until you deliver)) :)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Myers + Chang

For Valentine's day, although he didn't consider it a Valentine's day present, Taylor had a surprise for me.

See, for my birthday in November, he took me to Myers + Chang, a fabulous (fantastic!) restaurant in the South End of Boston.  It was so (so so so) good, we have returned several times, just the two of us, and with friends, and each time, it knocks our socks off!  It's quite tasty.

So the surprise this morning, you may have guessed, was a date at Myers + Chang.  A cooking-class-date, to be precise. (Here is a great write-up of the class, by one of our classmates.)

First, we learned how to make scallion pancakes: scallions and sesame oil suspended in a light, fluffy dough which is then fried.  (I really need to get some white spelt flour so I can make baked goods and light doughs again!  I love whole grain breads, but really--sometimes you just need all that white "goodness").

One aspect of the class that I really appreciated were the "do ahead of time" tricks.  For instance, you can freeze the cakes before you pan them. Defrost them for a day: presto! fried dough with minimal day-of work :)  That's my kind of recipe!

We also learned how to make the green papaya slaw and Mama Chang's pork and chive dumplings.

Best part about the slaw: I now have the recipe for the perky-tasty-peppy-zippy dipping sauce that comes with the mu la lat skewers.  In fact, my life may be complete now that I know how to make it. Come over for dinner one of these days :) I'll make you some (and you'll see. And you'll want the recipe!).

Best part about the dumplings: they're dumplings! Who doesn't like dumplings? Chef Barros even took us across the street to Ming's market where he showed us where we can buy dumpling wrappers (yes, and a lot of other nifty things).

Joanne Chang herself (founder of Flour Bakery) showed us how her mother taught her to make dumplings.  I have never dumpl-ed dumplings before, so it was great to have someone show me a method (any method, rather than just smushing the dough together around the filling).  And I really like Mama Chang's (and I'm stickin' to it).

Such a gift is True Love.


Only Love could say: "I love you so much I want to help you cook better." without implying that one's cooking is bad or even lacking in any way. And only Love could respond: "I love you so much I want to learn how to cook things you like!" without inferring any harsh comments about aforementioned cooking :)

So if you're in the Boston area, definitely  check out Myers + Chang. You won't regret it (unless you regret eating delicious food [pictured on that page: the mu la lat skewers!] at reasonable prices in an awesome atmosphere)!

Friday, February 12, 2010


I have found it!! (Don't worry, Classics majors, this is a nudity-free post!)

Not gold. Not a new theory of measurement.  No. I have found the recipe for the tomato sauce I most crave when I want pasta.  I have found that tangy, very tomato-y, slightly sweet sauce that dresses the most delicious pasta dishes of my memory.

The tomato sauce and prosciutto pasta I had in New York.  The tomato and black pepper penne we had one late night in Rome.  The tantalizing tomato sauce I crave year round...

I have found it :)

And y'know what? It's so simple.

Go check it out here. And then make some pasta tonight!

On our honeymoon, at Cecilia Metella outside the Catacombs

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Busy Bee

I've been doing some sewing lately :)  This past Saturday, Viv has been with us for a whole month, and I wanted to make her something as a "congrats" for surviving 1) us and 2) Boston for a whole 4 weeks.  I didn't get to her present on Saturday :( but I was able to finish it by Tuesday.

A homemade apron (material and pattern sent to me by Renee!) 

No, it's ok--you're not seeing things. There is a pink elephant patch on the apron.  I snagged the material as I was cutting it out and didn't have enough to cut another apron, so I pulled out my very eclectic collection of patches (courtesy, mostly, of my grandmother's 50s style patch stash) and Viv thought the elephant looked best.  :)

The last night, T had a lot of work to do (and it was trying to snow outside) so I sat down at my machine and sewed all evening.  (Viv and I have started reading the Lord of the Rings out loud to each other. We take turns reading, so she read while I sewed, and I read while she got ready to go out last night!)

See, my Seester, Summer, wanted a "mini purse" (like I made for Lydia, Caellainne, and Giulia), but she wanted a fancier one so it could be her evening purse.  A couple weeks ago, she and I chatted about what materials I already had (thrifty women we are), and what would work well together for a purse.  I sent her some pictures and she picked out her fabrics.  So last night, I got to work.  I cut and ironed and pinned and sewed and, in just a couple hours (!), I had finished this cutesy little evening purse. [It's reversible!]

Viv was looking at the first purse I made and asked "why don't you put a button hole in the back so you can close it?"  Genius! So I added a button hole to Summers and it turned out very well. I emailed Summer the pics last night and she's excited to get it!  [Mic, you now have no excuse not to take Summer to a nice dinner and the opera!]

But it was still early in the evening, and when Summer picked out her material, I picked out some material for myself as well.  So I got the pattern out again and cut, ironed, pinned, and sewed some more.  Soon enough, I had another pretty purse, with a few extra features.

The maroon fabric is a dupioni silk remnant my friend Eleri (check out her sling blog, too!) sent me, and the yellow fabric is leftover from Bethany's mei tai.

Just like Summer's, the solid side has pockets on the back side.  While I was cutting out the pocket piece for my purse, the idea to make multiple pocket layers occurred to me.  (Brilliant? I think so.)  And I think it turned out pretty well (hey, any purse that has a pocket just for chapstick is a winner in my book).

Then I added my own little button hole and finis!

Taylor says I'll be able to use it Saturday morning for a small Two's-Day (also an early Valentine's day) he's planned.

Sew exciting!

*Also, if you want one, and if you want me to use material I already have, I can sell these cute little purses for only $25.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


The week that Momma died, when all of her children (and in-laws) were in town for the funeral, Daddy decided it would be a good time for all of us to go through her jewelry.  She had marked a few things that she wanted particular people to have, but mostly we just sorted through it all, piece by piece, divvying it up.  We had a pile for each of the children, a pile that Daddy wanted to keep himself, and a pile to go to the thrift store :) (Not all of Momma's jewelry was keep-sake-caliber... which is fine.)

My favorite piece of jewelry that I "inherited" is the set of diamond earrings that Momma let me wear at my wedding.  They're pretty discrete, small earrings, but I have always loved them. So sparkley!  Momma's mother (Big Mom--our Texas Grandmother) had given them to Momma for her graduation.  I think these were her master's degree diamonds.  Big Mom got her a big dinner ring with lots of diamonds for her bachelor's degree.  My sister Bethany had originally picked them out, but when she remembered that I had worn them at my wedding she gave them to me.  She has told me before it was "no big deal" but it really meant a lot to me that she let me have them.  (Thanks, Beth) :) And she did end up with the bachelor's degree dinner ring, so it all works out, right?

Other pieces of jewelry weren't particularly valuable, but had great sentimental weight.  Momma's copper teapot earrings were kind of like that, although I remember thinking they were kind of silly. Who wears teapots for earrings?  I never had the desire to wear them when I was growing up, unlike so many other things in Momma's jewelry boxes (what little girl doesn't go through her mother's jewelry wishing she could wear all the pretties?), but when it came time for someone to pick them, no one else really wanted them... and I just couldn't bear to see them put in the thrift shop pile.  So I said I'd take them (they were, after all, real copper and ivory) and I put them in my pile.

I didn't even really look at them again until just a couple weeks ago.  I was getting dressed in the morning and I put on a bright green sweater.  I like my jewelry to match (especially since I have quite a bit more with Momma's pieces), and as I was sifting through my jewelry box, I came across the teapot earrings once again.  I held them up to my ear (seeing my reflection in Momma's vanity mirror--which I also loved as a kid, and which my siblings said I could take) and they looked really fun with my green sweater.  So I wore them that day, feeling just a little silly (I don't normally wear really dangly earrings).  But the resilient little girl in me felt very fancy and grown up, wearing earrings I could hear click-clack and feel on my neck as I turned my head from side to side.

Momma's earrings hanging on her bronze vanity mirror

There's nothing like discovering small treasures you didn't realize you had. I hope you find some today, too.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Moment By Moment

This time last year, I remember doing the dishes while T was doing his homework.  I was crabby. And irritable.  I snapped some remark to him as I went to finish the dishes, "letting" him do his homework.  As I scrubbed our dinner plates off, I realized  why I was particularly irritable.  I was worried about Momma.

This time last year, the doctors told her they could do nothing else for her.  About this time last year, she went with Daddy to make funeral preparations and pick out a coffin.  She wanted "a plain pine box."  So that's what they ordered.  I was worried I wouldn't see her again.  I felt helpless--that I wasn't doing any good "way out here in Boston" and I wished I could be at home, closer to Momma. And I was taking it all out on Taylor.

When I realized why I was being snappy, I started to cry. That's not a good reason to be mean (is there a good reason to be mean?). If you're worried about something, the best thing to do is get it out in the open, to talk about it, to share the burden that's in your heart.  I dried off my hands and went over to where T was studying to apologize and explain why I was upset.  He listened and held me as I cried to him about Momma and Daddy.

About this time last year, I booked a plane ticket to CA to attend the CCD congress with my parents and younger sister.  Flights are really cheap this time of year--after the holidays but before most students' spring breaks begin.  My ticket was only $200, on a weekend.  It was worth so much more than that to me.

This time last year, I began to think about doing a 365 photo project.  I didn't know if I would make it a year taking a photo every day, but, I figured, it was worth a shot.  I decided to start my project at the beginning of Lent.  If I couldn't make it through Lent, I knew I wouldn't make it a year, so it was a good starting point.

This time last year, I was forced to come to grips with my mother dying.  We knew at this point that there was little time left.  The doctors kept shortening their "estimate."  Maybe a year. Six to nine months. One to three months. Every time I talked to her on the phone, I told her I loved her and that I was praying for her.  We didn't talk very long when I'd call because the pneumonia made her cough a lot.  I miss talking to her, even for those short periods of time.

A year is a funny thing.  Some years, we don't notice the days ticking away at all. Other years, the moments seem to drag by, one by one, never moving quickly enough.  Most of the time, it's a little bit of both.  I just keep reminding myself to be thankful for the moments.  I remember moments, not years.  I remember faces, and hugs, and tears. I remember insights, and feelings, and smiles.  Live in the moment. Love in the moment. We die in the moment.  Rejoice in the moment.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Quite A Pair

In case you haven't noticed, I like to show my crafty things being used.  I mean, really, what good is a baby carrier if it just sits around un-used?  (And, that's why my infant mei tai is currently in Seattle.)

The mobile nature of "today's world" and our variously located friends and family make it so that I'm often unable to get said action shots myself.  (Not always, though.)

Our friends were good enough to showcase the partner mittens I knitted them for C'mas and send me a picture.

And, sure, the mittens look pretty good, but what about that stunning couple, huh?!

Here is the pattern to the mittens, if you want to give them a try yourself! :)

Two's-Day on Thursday

Last week, T had an appointment in West Roxbury, so I decided to tag along and we had a short Two's-Day.  You see, when we first moved to Boston, 2 1/2 years ago (!), we stayed in a friend's house in West Roxbury for three weeks, waiting for our condo to close.  I didn't think it would be a trip down memory lane as we drove out that way this Thursday, but it's sometimes funny how memories crop up.

We hadn't had any lunch yet, so we stopped at a grocery store and got some food.  Of course, it was the same grocery store we used to visit during those first three weeks in Boston (when I was still looking for a job and we were still trying not to get lost on the crazy MA streets...).  While T went to his appointment, I wandered around the store, doing the week's grocery shopping. It was nice to have it all done so quickly.

The house where we stayed was, in fact, empty of our friends.  They had moved out, and were (very!) kind to let us stay there while they waited for an interested buyer.  So we really were rambling around on our own.  We had our little rattlebang car, and loads of free time to wile away.  The weather those weeks was warm and mild (though we did have an air conditioner in our room, which was very nice on the warmer nights), and we were able to meet many wonderful people, even before T's classes started.

It was good to re-visit that area, catching glimpses of sweet memories together.  It's been a long time since we moved here, and in many ways, it feels like we've been here forever.  But, in other ways, it seems like we are still just little kids, newly married, wandering around a strange new city, holding hands.


A few weeks ago we rearranged our bedroom, to make room for a small seating area.  We weren't sure precisely how we wanted things arranged, so we didn't plan a specific item for the area, but now that the bedroom is the way we want it, we have begun the search for a small something. We went to CafeNation to get a cuppa joe :) and visited the very eclectic furniture shop next door.  Boston has been for us a great place for gathering ideas.  Sure, we don't have the space (or funds or need) for a lot of the awesome things we've found, but we're filing them away for future use.  Perhaps you'll hear about some of them someday :)

All in all, a great Two's-Day with my love (even though we didn't find a bitty couch for our bedroom).

Thursday, February 4, 2010


T and I have been doing a bit more research on the adoption front.  We have determined that, for our current state in life, it would be best to adopt a newborn, which means we would like to connect with an expectant mother (and father) who would be willing to make an adoption plan with us.

We received some great advice from a friend-of-a-friend who said that, in her experience, newborn adoptions work out best when the contact is made through a personal connection: "I know a woman who is expecting and thinking about adoption" and that connection making it to the hoping-to-adopt couple.

So, this is an open letter to all our friends :)  If you know of any expectant mothers hoping to make an adoption plan, please let us know!  And feel free to tell your friends! And your friends' friends! And your family! And your friends' family! and.. well, you get the idea :)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Head Start

So this Christmas, you may recall, I needed to make a couple stars for my nativity sets.  And you may also recall, I made some magnets, since I had the clay out.

I finally got the last of my homemade magnets magnet-ed and have put them on the fridge.  I love them.

Last Christmas (2008) Momma gave me the cookie cutters I used for these magnets. She had initially picked them out for two of my nieces, who had "play kitchens" and she thought they'd be good "mini" cutters for the girls to play with. I guess she had an extra set, because I found my one for me in my stocking the next morning :)

If I made sugar cookies more often, I think these would be delightful little treats to serve at a tea party.  In fact, I've been doing some reading on shortbread cookies, and apparently oat flour was used before wheat flour. Good news for me :)  Maybe I'll have to try some oat flour shortbread cookies with a cup of tea this weekend.

In the meantime, my magnets will keep me smiling. And maybe I'll make some more, and get a head start on presents for next Christmas.. never hurts to be ahead of the game :)  (Summer, I know you want a blue bonnet and a tree.)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

What Are You Doing New Years Eve?

I know I'm posting this a month after it happened, but we really did have a fabulous, low-key, enjoyable New Years Eve with T's family.  I think we slept in (always a treat) and we took a walk in the afternoon.  That evening, Brother Corwin (good family friend who's a Dominican monk in CA) came over for a visit, and it was great to see him!  

We went downtown to hear some fun music and watch awesomely-costumed students walk around in stilts playing tambourines ("play a little song for me").  It was really cool! We heard awesome songs and the whole family was dancing. Anselm and Lydia even got to play a tambourine for a little while. Such great energy :) I love communal music.
From Jump, Jive, January
After Celebration Lane, we came back to the house for dessert and wiled away the evening until that magical hour when the New Year begins.  Honestly, I can't remember if any of us made it.  I know we got to 11 pm, for sure. But the kids were petering out and conversation was lagging. Despite our best attempts at playing the didgeridoo... (this is what it's really supposed to sound like).  I'm sure the men-folk howled at the moon before they went to bed :) 

But it was a great evening, and I couldn't have asked for a better way to ring in the new year, than surrounded by good friends and sweet family.  So, a month into it, here's to 2010! 

Come Saturday Morning

Although sleeping in until you wake up is a beautiful thing, it's also sometimes nice to wake up (just a little) early and brave the cold (and it was CUH-hold) to have breakfast at your favorite sunshiney cafe, and chat about exciting things with your own favorite husband.

Who could ask for anything more? 

Monday, February 1, 2010

Pop Pop Pop

I said I'd let you know how the popcorn making went on Friday.

It went well.  Very well.  So well, in fact, that my sister and I both ended up with sugar headaches.. but the popcorn was so tasty.  Sugar is pretty vicious stuff, but it sure does taste good :)

We popped up the popcorn (in the Whirley Pop T got me for C'mas two years ago. I'll never do air-popped corn again) and sorted through to get the un-popped kernels out (no one likes chomping into a handful of soft, crispy caramel corn only to nearly break their tooth on a stray kernel).  Then we made the caramel.

Viv's comment as I was adding the ingredients:
"All you need to make caramel is sugar and butter?!  Whoa.. I might have to make it all the time now."

You're supposed to add the ingredients to the pan, stir to combine and then not stir while it boils to the right temperature. So that lonely wooden spoon, coated in sugar and butter, was just sitting on the stove as the sweet golden gloop bubbled away in the pan.  Viv kept looking at the spoon, sneaking finger-swipes of the goodness left on it from stirring. I told her she could go ahead and finish licking it off, as long as she washed it and put it back on the stove :)  (I admit she was not the only one "testing" to see if the sugar tasted good.)

When the caramel was ready, we took it off the heat and added the baking soda/cayenne pepper mix.  This is the real magic of this recipe!  With just the right amount of cayenne, it turns the often overly-sweet caramel corn treat into a salty-sweet-savory snack that finishes with a kick!  Neither Viv nor I are huge fans of spicy, so we added the lesser amount of pepper, and it turned out great for us.

After we stirred the caramel into the waiting popcorn, we spread it out on cookie sheets to cool.  It was sitting there, so pretty and freshly-warm, I thought "cinnamon might add a nice touch."  So I dusted the popcorn on one tray with regular ol' ground cinnamon.  I tasted it. It was fabulous. Not any sweeter, but it somehow took some of the edge off the spicy cayenne.  I'm glad I left half the corn without the cinnamon, though, because that tray was just as good.

Happy Munching :)