Category: General

Crafts General Life

General

I need a weekend to recover from this weekend. We seemed to have gotten into the spirit of spring cleaning and checked quite a few items off of our lists. There was that leaky faucet to replace in the kitchen and of course my garden needed to be plowed and readied for planting in a few days. Then, we continued celebrating my birthday from last Monday — now that Evan had un-mired himself from work. There was cooking to be done and I couldn’t keep my hands off of Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem book so most of the things we made were from my new cooking volume. Last, but not least, there was a room make-over for Sophia and… more cake. Let’s start with what matters most to everyone — dessert. The cake was a strawberries and cream cake from an old Cooks Illustrated recipe. I must admit, that I had to make the cake twice having forgotten to put butter in the first one and accidentally making it a Russian Biskvit. Apr12_2 The cake itself wasn’t very tall and I impressed myself by managing to split it into three layers. The assembly is deceptively simple needing only strawberries, sugar, cream cheese and cream to finish. Apr12_3That is what it looked like when it was assembled and before it was devoured. The strawberries are halved and arranged with the hull sides out on the perimeter of each layer. Inside are chopped macerated strawberries with a reduced strawberry syrup. All that is topped with a cream cheese and whipped cream frosting and the very top is just frosted. Okay, okay, I am sure you need to see the inside shot as well… Apr12_6   Mmm… it was good. Good thing too because it was a dessert that followed a meal of Middle Eastern-spiced cod cakes in minty tomato sauce. They were a cinch to make if you don’t mind a bit of herb chopping. In fact, I knew they were going to be pretty amazing because what dish that has a whole bunch of cilantro and parsley isn’t good? The dish was the epitome of spring, summer and healthy, too. Apr12_1 Since the cod cakes required  a bit of chopping, we decided to make the rest of the weekend’s meals a little easier. I had chicken stock making in the slow cooker which, by definition, cooks itself and an amazing roasted chicken leg recipe. This one is also from Yottam Ottolenghi and just absolutely gorgeous. It is easy to make provided you’re motivated to marinade a day or two in advance. All you need to do is toss some olives, capers, caper juice, red wine vinegar, dates, bay leaves, olive oil and well… chicken legs together and let sit in your fridge for a bit. Then roast and serve with plain cous cous. I had never cooked anything savory with dates before and was very surprised how their intense sweetness balanced the brininess of the olives and capers. Mmmmm… there may have been oregano too, but truthfully, Evan marinated this one so I am not quite sure. Apr12_8     A meal such as this one was just what was necessary to satisfy at the end of a very busy weekend where in addition to cooking up a storm and fixing leaky kitchen fixtures, we also transitioned Sophia to a big girl room. She’s outgrown her crib and we thought it was time she got a big-girl bed what with her being a big girl now. Shh, but don’t tell her that she’s a big girl. According to her, she’s apparently not ready to be one. We managed to turn over a new room between breakfast and lunch on Sunday which required a plan of action and fast execution. After cleaning out the closet to ready it for her clothes, I can honestly say that I shall never become a hoarder… ever, ever, ever. Apr12_9   Here she is in her new digs. As you can see, I did splurge for three photo prints from the animal shop but framed them myself with some neon colored frames from Michaels that I got on a great sale. I also framed a Sophia original in a metallic blue frame and that is hanging to the right of the lamp. The basket housing Minnie is one that Grammie (my mother-in-law) made for us as a gift for my bridal shower. Perhaps the most unique aspects of the new big girl bed are Sophia’s pillows; I selected two pillows stuffed with buckwheat hulls that are typical in Japan and are supposed to be much more breathable and comfortable for your neck and back. They are definitely unique and we’ll see if they will work out. Lastly, there was of course plenty of fun and play going on at our house… and we did enjoy the great outdoors in the evenings. Whew… when’s next weekend again?Apr12_5

Cookery Culinary Adventures Dessert Flavors General Hubby Cooks Life

Sometimes you just need a fix … a little something to carry you over until the weekend. Sometimes, its a dessert, sometimes, a good book and in this case, the fix is a series of links to things that I am going gaga over.

I’d do anything to get a chance to play with this dollhouse. Sophia has a dollhouse already. Hers is smaller, but something like this is perfect for the 4+ crowd. Coincidentally, I am in the 4+ crowd already, so can I get one?

Perusing my beloved Moma museum store lead me to this stamp set. You see, stamps are all very in at our house and this set is not only fun, but educational. And while on the subject of Moma … and faces, here’s something I just picked up for Sophia.

I would definitely try and get one of these, or something like when decorating a nursery. Sophia’s nursery is mellow, yellow and accented with butterflies. I’d definitely go a little bolder next time.

We don’t get a chance to get out to the movies often, but Chef looks promising. We’re foodies and enjoy a good food truck once in a while.

Lastly, and I am of course late to this party, but maybe you are, too. I love, love, love pretty much every knitted piece on this site as well as the yarns. They’re oh so pricey, but oh so dreamy.

General

Cookery Flavors General

I am reading, looking up, searching or admiring new sites, ideas, recipes, tutorials and all matter of materials for hours each day. A part of that is for work, a part for continuing education (because I want to) and last and perhaps most important part is for inspiring new ideas whether it be for cooking, traveling, getting away or just developing my style of keeping house and home. In doing so, I have developed a stash of sites I enjoy visiting and on occasion share them here. So alas, without too much further adieu, here are some sites that I really enjoy.

  • There is something magical about pieces that are made by hand by artisans. I pine to own one of these pieces… maybe after we’ve checked off a few more travel destinations, we’ll take the plunge.
  • I love crafts and routinely look here for patterns and inspiration. There is something nordic, basic, simple and oh so very elegant about these knits. Incidentally, I’ve made of the pieces showcased here for Sophia. She loved it.
  • Mmmm… these recipes just beg to be cooked.
  • I can’t help but admire these beautiful jewelry pieces there. Even though I can wear casual clothes to work and don’t dress up while chasing after a 22 month-old, I still appreciate and collect pieces time/budget permitting.
  • If I could afford it, I would summer (okay, even spend a week) at this beautiful nature setting. I am a city girl at heart, but I love to get away and unwind. It is essential to our happiness.
  • I don’t solely drool over jewelry and cooking sites… I also nourish myself with interesting information presented in a creative and unique way such as this.
  • … and last, but not least, I have found serious evidence that Evan and I are not the only people out there who love and live to travel, whose sole purpose in life is to unearth the uniqueness of other cultures. This is a blog about a lawyer who gave up her career to do just that — to travel, to eat, to see and explore and it seems that she feeds not just her belly but her soul.

Do you have sites and blogs that you read regularly? Share them with me in the comments section. I am always looking to diversify my reading list.

General

… is an exercise in generosity. It takes time to develop the menu, source the ingredients, clean the house, set the table, prepare the dishes, serve, and finally clean up. Feeding, whether three or twenty three, takes time and money. Both time and money are highly precious for all of us and so when hubby and I do make the time to host, we like to do it as best we can. Not just so we can check a to-do item, but so that we can enjoy the fruits of our labor and more importantly see that those who shared their time with us are enjoying it too.

This innate drive to satiate is at least in part a learned behavior. I learned it from my mother, and she from hers. I hope to pass it on to Sophia and along with it, some good family recipes. Speaking of … my parents met us at our house the evening we flew in from our recent sojourn to California. They extended the most generous offer, to bring over dinner and help with Sophia, and we would have been crazy to decline it. My mother brought her famous sous. After a long day’s travel, we instantly felt “at home”. Maybe it was because we both spent so much time at my parents’ house during our college years enjoying sous or maybe because when someone takes care of you on such a basic level, you always remember.

General Life

I am not at all thrifty … except in one area of my life: time off/vacation. It is a commodity that is in high demand if you’re working. Unlike in those other countries, most Americans get 2-3 weeks off a year. Let me put that in perspective — that is 2 weeks off for every 52 weeks of work. I started working at 12 and I will probably work until 65. That is 53 years of work, 2756 weeks of work and just 106 weeks off (for the average American). I am pretty fortunate that my employer commits to 3 weeks off a year plus 4-5 days of floating holidays. Hubby and I try our best to take full advantage of it. We aren’t fans of wasting our vacation days by taking one here or there just because. We like to make it count and usually take a week or (preferably) more at one time. 1. you can really get away and unwind. 2. you are already paying some cost X to fly or drive or generally get to a destination, so pay it once and enjoy for longer. 3. you can go further if you take more time off. All that said, having a child (especially one like Sophia) is exhausting and sometimes you just need a day off. I’m still trying to decide if it is worth it to take a day off just because.

General Life

I was playing the role of a tablescape designer for my brother-in-law’s birthday celebration. A few people asked about the flowers that I used to create the casual, effortless spring country arrangements. I am no Martha Stewart, but I think they turned out okay.

Florals

 

They were Ranunculus (see below)

and Lilacs. The ranunculus are best when arranged free-form and the lilacs just add an immense aroma. Actually, I forgot all about lilacs and when I smelled them at the store, I remembered where I smelled them last — my Baba’s house. I am now on the hunt for a lilac bush to plant in my garden.

Gardening General Life Past

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