Ice cream wasn’t the only thing on the menu though I could have it for breakfast lunch and dinner. We also made a roast, crepes, roasted tomato soup, a roasted chicken dinner, and a barley grain salad. It isn’t gluttony, its meal-prep for the week and it ensures that I can get a proper dinner on the table most evenings. Do you meal prep for the week?
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.
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.
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.
Our friends came for brunch on Sunday and brought an amazing rendition of snickerdoodle pie. Baking cinnamon-infused cookie dough into crispy pie crust really is a no brainer. I saved the recipe and shall have to learn how to make it very, very well by practicing often. Brunch was a simple affair and, in addition to the snickerdoodle pie, included buttermilk pancakes, turkey meatballs that the girls have dubbed amazeballs, and vanilla-bean cheesecake (all homemade). The kids played together and the adults conversed and tried to keep up with the continuous pancake, juice, and meatball requests.
That was Sunday which we kept in line with the long weekend’s theme keeping things low-key and focusing on spending time with Sophia and Eliza. Saturday we took the girls out for chocolate croissants and
coffee steamed milks, saw the Comcast Center’s Holiday Spectacular, made sour cherry hand-pies, and made a super comforting roast chicken dinner.
Friday, for a real treat, we took the girls to the Please Touch Museum for a morning of play and discovery. We were there shortly after the museum opened and the girls didn’t skip a beat heading downstairs to the grocery store and hospital exhibits.
Before Friday, there was Thanksgiving which we spent with my family in Wilmington, Delaware having contributed a home-made cranberry pie with a streusel topping. The pie featured a home-made crust of which I am very proud of having gone as far as to blind bake it.
I had plenty of little fingers to help me measure out all the ingredients, stir the cranberries in the pot, and decorate the top with streusel.
Thanksgiving was just as we liked it — fairly small, warm, and delicious. It was a real treat to just kick back and relax.
In the end, even after all the other pictures featuring mouthwatering pies and glossy berries, this one (see above) is my favorite. It was taken using my phone and isn’t particularly well-framed but it conveys the very essence what our daily life is about — developing and nurturing a bond between Sophia and Eliza. Here is Sophia helping Eliza zip up her coat. She did this without us prompting simply because she wanted to help and to be the big sister. This Thanksgiving break was epic.
Two. Eliza turned two yesterday. These past two years have been a whirlwind—a happy, chaotic, tumultuous whirlwind. Eliza is truly a little piece of sunshine. She has captured our hearts and souls and we love her to the moon and back, twice over.
We spent the day celebrating as befits a newly minted two year old. There were birthday pancakes with sprinkles and a candle followed by a luncheon with family and a homemade birthday cake.
This year, I opted for a strawberry cream cake which was a chiffon cake with macerated strawberries and a cream/cream cheese frosting. It was incredibly light, not too-sweet and tasted of June, of strawberries, and of family celebrations. Eliza, much like both of her parents, liked the frosting and the strawberries over the cake itself.
I would be remiss if I let on that we celebrated Eliza’s birthday over just one day. Two years apparently meant two celebrations and two cakes, too.
And because two is so big, we decided to capture this age, this magnificent little girl, and the day on camera.
Kids now-a-days have so many toys that most parents, including us, have a difficult time finding ample storage and managing the inevitable clutter. The best possible entertainment, I find, are activities that we make ourselves and not ones that are specifically for the kids anyway. We involve the girls in our everyday life encouraging and expecting that they participate in our family life. One such example was the making of a Vanilla Bean Raspberry Swirl cheesecake which both Sophia and Eliza helped me make. Eliza helped weigh out the graham crackers and Sophia crushed them and mixed the melted butter into the crumb mixture. Sophia also helped swirl the unbelievably good raspberry sauce before we put the cake into the oven. She loved being so creative with the swirling. The cheesecake turned out out of this world and a recipe is forthcoming.Speaking of homemade or handmade or made at home and by hand is this beautiful quilt. My sister Anna has taken two years to make it and it was worth the wait. It is so special because it is made especially for Eliza. The design is bright and airy—it isn’t too girly because of its geometrical pattern structure but hints of femininity with its bright pinks and reds. Without trying, the quilt has brought the rest of the elements in her small nursery together. Eliza loves to cover herself with ” ‘da blaket ‘dat Anya made!”This weekend was mostly about spending time as a family. We followed what has become a bit of a routine—a visit to a coffee shop, a trip to the farmer’s market, a dance class, and lots and lots of time outside.
Evan and I did manage to have an evening out. A friend of ours from college was getting married and we were excited to share the day with him and his beautiful bride.
The wedding was held outdoors overlooking Independence Hall and the beautiful park grounds of Old City. I never tire of this view and never take it for granted. Sophia and Eliza helped make a wedding card and we think it turned out rather cute.
“Babushka said I could be an eye doctor, but I don’t want to be an eye doctor, Mama. I don’t want to be anything when I grow up; I just want to be people” said Sophia to me the other day.
There is so much sincerity in that statement. I don’t think it is fair to try and shape children into professionals; children have to be children. Their job is to play, to discover, and to be loved. That is exactly what happened over this glorious, sunny, warm Memorial Day weekend.
Relief ricocheted off of me as if I were a prisoner destined for the guillotine and somehow, magically, granted a last-minute stay. We made the most of the sunny weather and the days off; a bit of time at Rittenhouse Square, a bit of time in Fairmount Park, and last but not least, plenty of time at the farmer’s market getting excited over the season’s first strawberries.
There is nothing much else to share from our weekend other than an overabundance of grilling on our small Japanese charcoal grill, some time with a baby cousin, and plenty of R&R.
Finally, there may have been ricotta donuts stuffed with Nutella. Maybe. Let’s just say maybe so that you don’t feel so bad that you didn’t make any.
Despite having moved a little over three months ago, we still have a basement full of boxes. On occasion, like this past Saturday, we carry out special ops-level missions where we try to locate something we need like our favorite Japanese earthenware charcoal grill or the art for the kids’ rooms.
Saturday should have been relaxing as the girls visited with their Baba and Deda but ended up hectic what with all the unpacking and cooking. On Sunday, we hosted Evan’s parents and grandmothers. His Bubbie and Grandmom hadn’t seen our house yet. Grandmom is celebrating a birthday this week and we couldn’t think of a better reason to host an instimate brunch.
This right here is Pizza Rustica from a cookbook my sister gifted me for Mother’s day. I was pleased with the way it turned out both in the way of looks and taste. This was, I am ashamed to admit, the first time I had done a pie with a lattice top. I felt very fancy about it. A vanilla-bean pudding with chocolate chips and a fiesta salad rounded out the brunch menu. Eliza and I walked to our neighborhood florist for this gorgeous arrangement featuring the most vibrant yellow ranunculus. I like yellow against grays, creamy whites, and sandy colors.
The highlight of the day was, of course, my mother-in-law’s chocolate cake. We lit the candles up twice because, for little ones, blowing out candles is all the rage.
There was also plenty of games, books, and puzzles.
And in between all that, we sprinkled some face (or hand) painting and …
topped that off with nail polishing. There is something incredibly endearing about a grandfather polishing his little granddaughter’s nails. He tried his best, but my advice would be to continue practicing law.
We had a wonderful time hosting our family and wishing Grandmom a very, very Happy Birthday in person. It was the best Sunday.