Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Keeping of Christmas

We've fallen into a great habit of wrapping presents and watching movies at night, no matter what day of the week it is.  Every Advent I open my suitcase filled with movies to grab, Little Women, which I consider a Christmas feature film, only to realize I still don't own it, the memory of owning the VHS years ago continues to haunt me.  So instead we watched, The Sound of Music, and I didn't even fast forward through the nun parts.  Then came Goodbye Lenin, having not much to do with Christmas but excellent.  Then came Broadchurch, a British miniseries with likeable detectives and one with a dreamy Scottish drawl.

This holiday season Verity is a bit more stealthy in her approach to completely dismantle our Christmas tree.  Last year we only decorated the top half because she would take all the low-hanging ones off straight away.  Of course.  This year, she waited until our guard was down, showing delight in it as a whole and not an invested interest in pulling the ornaments off.  So we decorated the tree from top to bottom.  Now when we are in the other room she quietly continues her annual tradition.  So far we've lost one christmas keepsake to her, but I'm proud to say that my mom's snow globe of New York City is still unbroken, much like her spirit.  But, unlike our copy of a Charlie Brown Christmas which she broke in two while we popped some popcorn prior to viewing.


I do feel like this is a special year.  Naomi is almost four, dripping with enthusiasm and Verity is our comedic two year old.  Naomi took so much joy in decorating the house this year, offering feedback and advice.  Standing back with me to see how it looks and then adjusting.  She remembers what was in her stocking last year and has decided what she wants to give and receive.  A unicorn for herself and a lion for Verity (because she likes mine so much).  It's all very heart-warming.

In the pageant this year Naomi is going to be a "flying angel!".  I can't wait to see that.  Verity's top choice was an owl.  Then comes a shepherd.  Then a sheep.  The last one I think we will accommodate.


This marks one more Christmas without my mom, who kept Christmas so well.  There is such heartache with that understatement.  We pray for joy that eludes us, make up for it by giving extra hugs and baking sugar cookies, and buying the most beautiful wrapping paper we can get our hands on.  Sparing no expense.


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Meal Plan | 12.03.14 | The Culmination of a Day

A day's worth of work.  Yesterday it was Chicken Stew.  Flat-roasting a chicken.  Blanching carrots.  Sauteeing onions.  Making Biscuits.  It was my version of Babette's Feast.  It felt like it took all day.  In actuality it took most of the day when you include the washing up.  I think this effort could be both criticized and praised.  Was it a poor use of time or was it a good use of time?  Please don't answer.  I remain disillusioned either way.  Today's goal will be to avoid the kitchen entirely.  Babette is fasting.

Monday:  The Weekly Lentil.  These with dijon mustard and red wine vinegar.
Tuesday:  Chicken Stew with Biscuits.  Cursedly comforting.
Wednesday:  Split Peas over Rice.  Not sure who's going to make that.  
Thursday:  Pumpkin Pasta from Simply in Season.  I still haven't shared that recipe, have I?
Friday:  Cauliflower Risotto.  Homemade Winter


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Meal Plan | 11.18.2014 | Weekly Preparations

Yesterday I roasted vegetables.  Broccoli, Cauliflower, Sweet Potatoes and Beets.  I wanted to have a good plan for lunches as I think about the marathon I'm scheduled to run on Sunday.  The gun goes off at 7am.  There are instructions to be at the starting line no later than 5:30am.  Why so early?  At least there will be plenty of time to find a philly cheesesteak afterward.  

This week I'm not going to pay any attention to how my legs feel, or how my shoes feel a smidge to big and stiff.  I'm just going to try to eat good food and go to bed early.  The latter will be a cinch with Lila by Marilynne Robinson waiting for me on my nightstand.

Monday:  Chickpea Saute over rice.  From Plenty. 
Tuesday:  The Weekly Lentil.  Lentil Burgers.
Wednesday:   Beef Stew.  Can't wait.  
Thursday:  Pasta and Red Sauce with Garlic Bread and Ceasar Salad.  Load of Carbs.
Friday:  Pizza and anything I can put my hands on.  Carbo-loading continued.  

I also made this salad to have on hand for lunches.  She never disappoints.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Meal Plan | 11.06.14

My meal plan saved me this week.  Every day so far I haven't had the slightest desire to make what I signed myself up to cook, but I did it anyway because there was absolutely no way I could come up with something else.  I haven't had a crumb of energy to spare.  I'm supposedly tapering this week, but when I taper I expect to not run at all.  Anything more than zero miles is agony.  I did manage to vote.  I don't like being an uninformed voter.  While Verity shook the aluminum voting booth and Naomi complained that the ledge was too high, I scoured the questions and the names and did my best.  It was disheartening and patriotic.  The real disappointment came when we walked past the elementary school bake sale on our way to vote with not a penny in our pockets.

Monday:  Leftovers from last week's turkey meatloaf that I meant to tell you about.  By Ina Garten.
Tuesday:  Pumpkin Pasta from Simply in Season served with a crisp green salad.  This is a delicious recipe dog-eared by a friend.  It's usually served with sausage.  Must share it with you.    
Wednesday:  The Weekly Lentil.  Simple lentil soup this week.  
Thursday:  Crock Pot Chicken Soup.  Why does "crock pot" make everything sound unappetizing?  It was really good!  
Friday:  We're having pizza tomorrow.

And you??

Friday, October 24, 2014

Running Lately

I've been running.  I run in the early morning hours as they get darker and darker.  I run before the girls wake up, or at least before we recognize their wakefulness, and before Eric leaves for work.  On these runs I can think about what I want the day to look like and what I want to make for dinner.  Or breakfast.  On these runs I have time to resolve various internal conflicts, settle disagreements with myself, and generally make peace with the world.  There is both grumbling and thankfulness.  On these runs I work on a blog post or a writing assignment I've given myself.  I develop get-rich-quick schemes and ideas for entrepreneurial venture.  On these runs I take in my surroundings and enjoy getting a head start on the day.  Most thoughts I can't recall and float in and out of my head in rhythm with my stride.  I'm usually down by the river, running to this bridge or that bridge.  And back.  

I must paint this romantic picture because it does cost me something.  I have more energy and less energy at the same time.  Many things have fallen off my radar and out of my line of sight and I'm simply behind the ball.  The truth is I'm training for a marathon while pretending I'm not.  My inbox is like the Bermuda Triangle.  Phone calls that should be made, haven't been made and I'm not sure when they will.  Weekly meal planning remains just out of my grasp.  

After the race is over I hope I will be able to say it was worth it.  And I will ask myself that question.  Really, I would like something other than running 16 miles to provide me with moderate serenity.  I've grown accustomed to a bit of level-headedness.  But, I worry that there isn't.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

French Lessons

Last week we took the cousins, most willing and all able, to the French Cultural Center in the beautiful Back Bay neighborhood of Boston.  We want to fill those curious minds with some french vocabulary so that they pass the foreign service exam one day!  No, but in all seriousness, why not throw some French riddles in to clog up their little sponges.  Though I loved every minute of my time in the land of the Scots when I studied abroad in college, I do wish I had been bold enough to sure up my conversation French somewhere else.  And so that duty will rest on the shoulders of the next generation.  Here is your head start people.

The building was exquisite and the children's room captivated everyone.
Now to make it back in two weeks time to return materials and keep our account in good standing.  

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Meal Plan | 09.09.14 | Sarma and Beyond

Last week my lovely friend Rebecca came for a visit.  She has an uncanny ability to savor life, and a nack for finding joy in most everything.  She allowed us a needed break from our routine.  She read stories out-loud.  She helped me work on my day-time conversation skills.  It was truly wonderful to have her here.

Immediately upon her arrival we started talking and almost immediately we started talking about what and where and when we were going to eat.  She filled me with tales of abroad -her sister, just back from Egypt could testify to the authenticity of Kusheri -a simple lentil and rice dish we both love.  She explained some of the differences between Mexican and El Salvadorian food.  And after I told her I wanted to find more Indian dishes to cook upon watching The Lunchbox, she quickly referred me to this cookbook, Extending the Table.  I was told to not skip the stories and I haven't.  Indeed they are rich.  

Now I want a huge map of the world in our kitchen pronto and I want to put a dot on each country we visit. 

Our last night together we ventured to Sarma.  Two open seats at the bar.  Delicious dim sum style small plates being solicited by friendly waitstaff.  A bartender who was only minorly annoyed by our incessant questions.  We were easy to please, at least on this night, and we loved it.

So, I'm calling this international week.

Monday:  Chick Peas and Coconut Milk -Tanzania.
Tuesday:  Curried Split Peas -Kenya.
Dessert:  Bananas in Coconut Milk -Thailand.
Wednesday:  Vegetarian Tikka Masala.  TheKitchn
Thursday:  The Weekly Lentil.  An Ethiopian Salad.  
Friday:  Cuban Style Black Beans over Salad.