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?
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.
The best adventures are the ones that aren’t necessarily planned. We took our little wild ones to see some big and really wild animals at the Philadelphia Zoo. It must be noted that we’re members of the zoo and admission and parking are free for us for the duration of the membership (1 year). The zoo is also a 10 minute ride from our house and yet, somehow, we have managed to omit the zoo from our weekend lineup for all of spring. However this happened, it was remedied on an overcast and fairly cool, albeit, humid summer’s morning.
Not one to overstimulate my children and try to see and do everything, we took it easy and visited only the exhibits the girls wanted to see. We saw the polar bear, the penguins, the reptiles, and the big cats. These were the girls’ choices and I am pleased they led the way. The zoo posts all sorts of factoids about its inhabitants. For example, did you know that orangoutangs make new nests for themselves every day? Not only that, but they also make pillows, mattresses and even blankets from leaves and straw daily. Now that’s cleanliness and room service I can get behind!
Just as the crowds started to get significant, we headed home to peace, quiet, and air conditioning. That evening, we grilled middle eastern chicken kabobs. The kids were invited to Baba and Deda’s house for the better part of the day on Sunday and they’re not ones to turn down an invitation from their grandparents. I hear there was gardening and splashing in the back yard as well as books, games, and activities. All in all a much needed lovely weekend.
This past weekend was supposed to be amazing. I had grand plans for the three days at home catching up on rest and relaxation. Except that just as Sophia was getting over a stomach bug, Eliza came down with it and Sophia somehow, somewhere picked up the common cold.
My sister hosted a beautiful dinner to celebrate the Fourth of July and we baked a Danish dream cake to accompany our singing her a very Happy Birthday. I took the girls to a woodworking gallery where we ogled chairs which cost $10,000.
And although we would have done just fine, we appreciated all the help my parents lent us this weekend. My Dad came in on Sunday to spend a bit of 1×1 time with Sophia and then, the girls both spent the better part of the day at their house on Monday.
More than the hands-on help or the blintzes and chicken soup, what we got was just what we needed—support. When you’re up in the middle of the night with a baby who is so warm that you’re sweating holding her and are not sure if you should head to the ER, it’s nice to know that you’re not alone.
All the reasons we moved back to Philadelphia and our decisions to uproot our life in Maryland are justified each time we see our family.
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.
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.
We watched For Grace yesterday. I’ve, over the last few months, preferred documentaries over fiction/drama.We’ve liked Cooked and Dior and I. People’s personal stories can be so powerful and their creativity inspirational.
The movie capped off a fairly busy weekend which started with a Friday evening tour of Sophia’s art at her school’s Lower School Art Show. She had two works on display—a watercolor of a wave and a clay butterfly. We capped the visit with a stop at the playground and retired home.
We made it an early night on Friday to try and recuperate from the week. Busy and exhausting doesn’t even begin to describe it. The rest of the weekend was spent out biking with the kids, a brief dinner date, at dance class, and in a marathon blintz making session. My mom and I farmer’s cheeset wrapped ~90 blintzes. Mmm… That was punctuated by a home-made sprinkled donut snack and a glass of Jefferson Vineyards’ Meritage we brought from our babymoon in 2014.
Too pretty to eat? Almost. Evan and I went out on a dinner date to celebrate my birthday this Saturday. I didn’t want anything for my birthday except for a leisurely dinner and maybe drinks. We went to a restaurant that is a BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle) and Evan surprised me by bringing wines from our travels past. He brought a white from the Landmark Vineyards which we visited when we took a not-even-two-year-old Sophia to Napa and Sonoma. Evan also brought a wine we bought in Alentejo in 2003 when we drove all across Portugal and visited Evora. Spectacular as those wines were, my dinner companion, and reminiscing about our travels made this birthday celebration very special.
The girls, meanwhile, did not sulk at home—they had Grammie and Pop to entertain them. There is something unbelievably charming about grandfathers and granddaughters and especially this lovely pair right here. Beautiful as his artwork was, I found the fact that my father-in-law embraced face painting with Sophia so very endearing. I love seeing how much he loves and dotes on his granddaughters.
To round out the weekend, Evan, the girls, and I entertained at home for the first time in this house. These friends are very special for us and we were looking forward to showcasing some Azerbaijani and Russian dishes. Putting on a dinner party isn’t always easy, and even more difficult when you’ve got a clingy, hip-hugging, almost-two year old companion toddling around. We made stuffed cabbage, an Azerbaijani eggplant chicken stew, a fish baked in an agrodolce sauce, and chermoula eggplant with bulgur and yogurt. There were also homemade blintzes with a fresh fruit compote.
The kids played so beautifully together, the adults were able to socialize, and enjoy wine (from proper wine glasses). I suppose committing to unpack a box or two a week really does have its benefits. It felt great to host, to entertain, and to share food with friends. Happy Monday!
What long weekend? We spent ours cooking, cleaning, packing, packing, unpacking, packing, unpacking, and … packing. We saw family and stayed mostly indoors trying to cope with the frigid temperatures.
This picture reinforces that there is no need for cupboards full of toys to keep children entertained. All or most of what they require is in their heads and their curiosity provides the best entertainment of all. We have downsized our toys by 75% and couldn’t be happier.
It snowed again on President’s Day and we decided to turn a dreary, snowy afternoon into an impromptu science lesson. While no longer frigid, it was still cold and so we brought the snow inside and observed its properties under a variety of conditions. We touched it, scrunched it, melted it, and even licked it.
The girls spent Saturday at my parents’ house. Sophia also spent time crafting with my sister and Eliza got a special visit from Alex that afternoon. I truly believe that just like a PhD or Esquire, aunt, uncle, are titles and must similarly be earned and maintained to be relevant and applicable.
Lastly, but most deliciously, I am trying out weekend meal-prep for the workweek. We made raisin and turkish apricot kugel, cauliflower and walnut salad with a lemon and parsley dressing, seared lime shrimp tacos, pico de gallo, guacamole, shrimp cocktail, beef stew, and chocolate brownie cookies. It was quite a lot of work to accomplish but we’re reaping the rewards of that labor all week long.
It was only a matter of time before our hopes for a mild and mostly snow-free winter were dashed. And so they were this past weekend when a monster storm blew through our parts bringing with it upwards of 2-3 feet of snow.
I was actually excited for the snow because the storm was coming in over a weekend and we didn’t have to fret over school closings, childcare, and maintaining reasonable work hours. As such, Evan and I hunkered down with the girls focusing on family time and cooking.
I made a Dutch Baby for the first time ever and it was such so easy and yet, it tasted so luxurious. The fact that it warmed up our apartment and filled it with a rich and comforting vanilla aroma was an added bonus. It was so, so good in fact, that I made it again the next morning. I’ll have to be strong and hold myself off from making it again too soon.
Evan cooked his famous fried rice and a chicken/vegetable stir fry. I’ve no pictures of it, just happy bellies as evidence of his spectacular culinary prowess. Old City isn’t in a rush to dig out so we stayed close to home and finished the weekend off with homemade calzones. Ricotta, wilted spinach and tomato sauce calzones to be exact. They were better than I expected, took less time than it would to order take-in, and were much, much healther. Moreover, they’ll make excellent, not-sad-desk-lunches for a few days this week. It’s a win!