I’ve been watching The Great British Baking Show. As a result, I’ve been in a bit of a baking craze and made these cinnamon buns and now the carrot cupcakes with maple cream cheese buttercream. I had great helpers.
Both Eliza and Sophia were great pipers much to my surprise. I like baking with the girls as it provides a welcome reprieve from their typical play. They get to be creative and we learn about science (e.g., what does baking soda do in a batter and what is the difference between baking soda and baking powder). Besides that, we visited Bartram’s Garden which was just lovely. The weather was beautiful and the girls enjoyed exploring. It is difficult to believe that such peace and solitude can be found in the city.
Mere minutes until bath and bed time and these two are hard at work on a new coloring book. They had both decided that the fish on the left is Dory and insisted on looking up the picture of the promo poster so that they could color it just so. That was Saturday and followed a busy morning where we made dough for Punitions and attended The Little Red Riding hood.
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Baba and Dedushka invited the girls over on Sunday as they do most every weekend and who, pray tell, would turn down an invitation from the grandparents for a day of fun? Both Eliza and Sophia told me they didn’t want to leave and this is all good news come summer and a temporary relief from school before the start of camp season. I would say the last weekend of Winter 2017 was well-spent.
An ice cream sundae isn’t particularly difficult to pull off if you’re not churning your own. We start churning our own once strawberries hit the farmer’s market. As such, this is store bought vanilla and chocolate with homemade hot fudge and whip cream, and a cherry on top. iSi canisters are the bomb! The kids (big and small) loved decorating their bowl with what seemed like endless whipped cream.
Sunday suppers with friends and family is something we feel we finally accomplish more or less gracefully. We hosted our very first one this Sunday and everyone helped; Sophia and Eliza assisted in capturing the menu on brown paper really enjoying drawing the pictures for every dish. I cooked the main, and Evan cooked the sides. The dinner menu was Mexican-themed complete with a tangy salad, guacamole, enchiladas verdes and, of course, arroz con pollo. I tend to gravitate toward dishes that have a lot of vegetables and color. They always look so appetizing esp. when presented on white serving ware.
My sister and I are, despite having a near 10 year age difference, dessert twins. She didn’t skip a beat and read the menu from the bottom up wanting to know exactly how we plan to finish the meal. I asked everyone to hold culinary and hostess gifts since we prefer to keep things casual so the girls were showered with goodies instead. Aunt Anna is single-handedly ensuring that Eliza and Sophia’s library of books rivals this one. I haven’t met a book Anna bought for my girls that they didn’t like including this, this, and many, many others.
And after dinner, most kids (some bigger and older than others, ehem) retired to the living area for a few rounds of party games. Sunday supper was just perfect. We’ll be keeping this tradition.
A long holiday weekend started with a major, MAJOR, M-A-J-O-R spring clean. By the early afternoon, the house sparkled and smelled of fresh lemon and pine. There must be something terribly wrong with me because I love to clean, do dishes, and fold laundry, too. I love a clean house even more. Showered and dolled up by 4 PM on Friday, I was ready and excited to meet up with friends. We visited the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts for their open house where a friend of ours is a resident artist. We also saw a copper pour which was spectacular and reminded me that art can be physically demanding in addition to requiring incredible creativity.
The girls were back on Saturday and we resumed our family-oriented weekend visiting Smith Memorial Playground on a beautiful warm winter’s day. It is nice to see that Eliza is finally catching up to Sophia in her playground skills and our role as parents is less and less physically involved. The girls initially wanted to go to the zoo but our family was not the only with such aspirations and traffic was awful getting there which meant that the zoo grounds would be crowded. Everyone was very happy with the playground and a whole lot of fresh air.
Eliza and Sophia visited Baba and Deda where Sophia learned how to make varenyky (pierogies) and they both caught up with their cousin. This picture above is timeless and transcends many generations in my family; I have memories of the very same braids, wearing an apron with a little rolling pin in hand, ready to make something in the kitchen. And before me, my sister, and before her, my mom, and her mom before that. These three — there are no words only knowledge that this bond is solid and made for life.
Coffee, it turns out, tastes even better when enjoyed in bed over some TV early on a cool winter’s morning. Maybe it was the coffee or perhaps it was the luxury of leisure. Whichever it was, that pot of coffee drunk in its entirety, was just glorious. That was Sunday right before the girls were picked up from their time at Grammie and Pop’s house. Hesitant to stay overnight at first, Sophia and Eliza were even more reluctant to leave. It seems that grandparents really are magical. There were tea parties with tiaras and pretty dresses, doll houses, and dolls, wikki stix, and so much more.
Photography and its role in our house is expanding since both Eliza and Sophia have shown interest. It was only natural since we take quite a few pictures and I am hoping that their interest grows because I’d like to teach them claymation. Sophia participated in a claymation activity at a local clay studio and was interested.
Of course it wouldn’t be a weekend if we didn’t do a bit of cooking and experimenting in the kitchen. I ended up with roasted strawberries while trying to make sweet-dried ones. It was a happy accident/failure as they were the most intense strawberry-flavored bites amplified that much more by vanilla ice cream. We’ll be repeating our accidental success come summer and strawberry season.
We had such a lovely weekend despite a brief snow storm followed by bone-chilling cold. The girls headed down to my parents’ house on Saturday morning for a sleepover and we all joined Evan’s family for a beautiful, belated Hanukkah brunch on Sunday.
I believe that grandparents should be able to spoil their grandkids and lavish them with attention, love, and lots and lots of homemade food. It also seems that I was born into a family with this belief as not only did the girls bake cookies and eat some of their favorite foods, they were also treated to breakfast in bed the morning after the sleepover. The breakfast, complete with pancakes and homemade hot chocolate, was a first one ever for Sophia and Eliza and such a lovely treat. Sophia and Eliza also played in the freshly fallen snow and “helped” Deda clear the driveway. Rosy cheeked and thoroughly refreshed from the great outdoors and fresh snow is how I remember spending my winter breaks in my grandparents’ house. As for Evan and me on our brief reprieve from parental duties—we cooked, listened to Jazz, watched more TV than we usually do, went out for happy hour after the snow, and generally lounged. In other words, we had 23 hours to remind ourselves what life was like when we were in our early-mid twenties.
What a blustery, blistery, and cold weekend. Someone told me that a cold front was moving from Siberia of all places down through Canada and toward us. I’ve never been to Siberia but I imagine that Friday evening’s weather was exactly how cold it must be there.
The kids are at this great age where they still believe in princesses, fairytales, and magic. Marveling and relishing this, we decided to start some new (to us) traditions like having the girls decorate a gingerbread house. We also baked snickerdoodle cookies—an experience that included a completely flour-covered kitchen, many giggles, and lots and lots of snacking too close to dinner.
We spent the rest of the weekend watching movies, decorating a new year’s tree (a tradition from my own childhood) and wrapping Hannukah presents. The highlight of the weekend, which also concluded it, was a visit to The Miracle on 13th Street where we marveled at a beautiful holiday oasis that seems to appear out of nowhere as you drive deep into South Philadelphia. Lovely.
We didn’t notice if it was cold outside when we were walking through this wonderland — we were too enchanted.
December is always busy with get-togethers, shopping, and just trying to stay on top of the daily. We had a brief overnight in DC Friday to Saturday to attend Evan’s holiday party. I hadn’t been able to attend the previous two years and was very much looking forward to getting together with some old friends and, frankly, getting a night off. The celebration was lovely and well worth the three and a half hour drive there.
In addition to wining and dining in the DC area, we also hosted my nephew for a sleepover and were all sad to see him head home. He’s thirteen now—young enough to play and bond with little cousins and yet is old enough to have great conversation with Evan and me.
Saturday night at our house almost always involves a leisurely homemade meal. On the occasion of Alex’s sleepover I made crispy chicken tenders, butternut squash fettuccine alfredo, and steamed green beans. We spent the time together crafting, playing legos, building forts, and just being silly. The kids (all three of them watched) My Neighbor Totoro for the first time. What a splendid time together.
This flawless and pretty much effortless weekend has been a long time in the making. Relationships, even those of cousins, have to be cultivated and involve not just the cousins but everyone around them. It isn’t always easy to make time, to host at home when the kids are little and you’re tired, but in the end it is so, so worth. Just see for yourself.
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