Category: Life

Sophia turned 1 just recently and we had a lovely tea party in her honor. We’ve since been a little preoccupied with getting ready for Halloween and preparing for Hurricane Sandy and so this post is a little late. Sophia was fortunate to be surrounded with lots of friends and family on her big day and received many lovely presents. Each one is special and we are trying to ration opening them since she’ll have to wait until next October for a whole new batch.

I wanted to share one particularly special present: a little bed for a doll made by my dad and custom bedding made by my sister.

It is beautiful! Made from lovely light wood and stained and sealed by hand by my wonderful nephew late at night right before it was to be presented to Sophia. My parents and sister collaborated in secret and even hubby and I did not know. The mattress and pillows are hand-made and hand-stuffed finished off with custom bedding including a quilt and pillow shams. What I wouldn’t give to have gotten something like this when I was a child.

This beautiful piece of art has become a staple in our family room. Sophia routinely comes up to feed the dolly (also given by my sister, brother-in-law and nephew) in the bed. Since she doesn’t sleep with a pillow yet, Sophia routinely tosses them off and climbs in bed to be with her “Lyalya”.

Life

We planned a nice celebration what with Sophia turning one. Although not exceptionally girly, I decided that a little tea party was in order to toast her with our family and friends. We sent out proper invitations and planned to serve tea sandwiches, scones and the likes. The day finally came last Saturday. All in all, after recuperating from the exhaustion of prepping and the hard work of celebrating, we’ve got pictures to look back on.

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Ten eleven twelve or (10-11-2012) just happened to be Sophia’s first birthday! On the one hand, I couldn’t wait for the day to come. To know that we’ve made it to this milestone and now I am a little bit wistful for all the precious moments of the previous year. A great day was head where we played [extra long] in bed, had a special pancake breakfast with buttermilk pancakes and maple syrup and finished the day with cake. There’s where our troubles began; I wasn’t nearly prepared for the immense sugar high Sophia was going to experience from even the smallest amount of cake and icing. She ran around like there was no tomorrow… really lived it up.

The picture is pre-cake, post afternoon nap and dressed in her hand-me-down dress-up clothes that we got from her cousins.

Life Moments

When in doubt… always check the urban dictionary. Hubby and I got away this past weekend; away from the cooking, cleaning, the baby and just away on our own. My parents agreed to watch Sophia over Friday night and we headed to the Big Apple for some needed R&R. We headed just as Sophia was going down for her morning nap and came back right after her afternoon nap the following day (Saturday). Looking back, the getaway felt like it lasted a New York Minute as we made the most of it cramming it with either rest or adventure. It was so short in fact, that we took no pictures and just decided to be in the moment rather than capturing the moment.

Hubby planned the majority of the destinations based on some of my requests. There was of course the much needed shopping in SoHo, a visit to a few galleries and a dinner out. First things first, I really enjoyed Apothecary NK and Jacques Torres Chocolate and a small Saturday new designer’s market in the Village. I also loved the Forbes Galleries which had a lovely Walter Stuempfig exhibit. Incidentally, the artist was born in Philadelphia and painted several landscapes that we recognized. We visited the Strand which was amazing; We spent a fair bit of time there mostly salivating over rare and out of print books that had that [amazing, old and worn, read many times by many hands] smell. Hubby was especially eyeing this book (a 1st edition copy) though after me asking him about it, he passionately maintains that he does not want it.

Our time in the city went by too fast. We didn’t even have enough time to see a play. This trip was a perfect reminder that we should go out more often, enjoy life and remember that children are happier when parents are satisfied and feel self-fulfilled even if it means a night away from mom and dad. Our New York Minute was just short enough to allow us to witness our daughter’s first steps.

Culinary Adventures Life Travel

… well, at least on or rather in mine. Baby’s first cold came on with the wrath of a tsunami complete with watery eyes, runny nose, sky-high fever, and general infant grumpiness. It lasted, well actually, it is still here but in much lighter form, days and has managed to take me down with it. I thought I was able to avoid it or at least with very mild symptoms when all of a sudden, in a matter of hours I litearally turned into a sneezing, wheezing, hacking puddle of sadness. It feels like the bubonic plague for I don’t remember a cold this bad in years. Perhaps the continuous sleep deprivation and taking care of a sick infant makes things worse or I’m getting old, or … well both.

Life

As promised, this blog documents not only our culinary adventures, but also our globetrotting escapades with little Sophia. We’ve documented our frequent trips to the Philadelphia area to visit our families and this summer’s shore trip. This past weekend marked our first trip further afield. Specifically, we traveled to West Bloomfield, Michigan to attend my cousin’s beautiful wedding. As Sophia is a little young and would probably make too much noise at the ceremony, we decided that she would spend the evenings with my amazing mother-in-law who traveled with us just for this purpose. Before I share the nitty, gritty of our first experience in airline travel with child, I must say that all went fine.

First, we took a flight from Baltimore (BWI) to Detroit (DTW) on Friday at 9:45 in the morning. We were renting a car in Detroit and visiting with family briefly before heading to our hotel for the mandatory afternoon nap. Much to my surprise and delight, Sophia held out for her morning nap until we boarded and promptly fell asleep as we were taking off. We weren’t so lucky on our trip back as the flight from DTW was taking off at 10 am and Sophia decided to sleep while we were at the gate and still only took a 20 minute nap. She spent the duration of our return flight playing and jumping and interacting with all of us until we were exhausted and she was hungry and ready for her afternoon nap. We got home on Sunday with just enough time to bathe the airplane grime off our little girl and put her to bed.

My general observations are that it is entirely possible to travel with an infant, although I am not sure I would travel with a small child and an infant. I would also dare not travel alone until the child could sit, stand and somewhat walk on their own. The amount of stuff we brought was significant and I doubt would decline until Sophia was potty trained and eating table food. All that said, I am happy we chose to attend the wedding as it was beautiful and the experience with travel with Sophia was enlightening. Looking back, we did the right thing and we will travel again. I grew up in a family that traveled, enjoyed and saw the world and so will my own family.

Lastly, I owe my wonderful mother-in-law a big thank you for traveling with us and leding a helping hand throughout the weekend while we went to the wedding.

Life Travel

The blog’s been quiet for the last week or so. That is mostly due to a self-imposed moritorium on all things computer and a much needed getaway to Virginia Beach with my sister, her family and my parents.

Beach getaways were a staple in my family when I was growing up. In fact, living in Baku, my mom would pack supper and we would head to the shores of the Caspian on a daily basis in the spring, early summer and fall. In the summertime, we headed either back to visit my maternal grandparents or to the shores (e.g., Batumi) of the Black Sea in Georgia. There is something magical about the sound of the waves, the breeze, the clean, salty air that refreshes even the most tired souls.

Sometime during the cold, dark days of last winter, we all all decided that a getaway was a must and picked our dates for mid-July to hopefully make sure that the Atlantic water had a chance to warm up. We also decided to deviate from our usual Ocean City, NJ/MD, Sea Isle City, NJ destinations and head further down south to Virginia Beach, VA. There was a certain risk involved driving 4.5 hrs with a 9 month old and I can now say that we persevered.

My parents drove down from Delaware on Saturday (7/14) morning and we all piled into my little C-RV and drove down to the shore. The drive that was to take 4.5 hrs took almost six hours due to heavy traffic and a mandatory, must feed hungry Sophia stop. I must also admit that our car (as was my sister’s) was packed to the brim. I drove, my mom sat in the front passenger’s seat as she gets motion sick easily and my dad and hubby were the entertainers du jour for Sophia. She took a 1.5 hr nap and spent the rest of the car playing with an occasional outburst that could only mean “ARE WE THERE YET???” in her own little language.

We rented in a small beach community that was blessed with a family-friendly atmosphere which meant no restaurants, no supermarkets, no cafe’s, no … no nothing but the surf, sun and relaxation. We cooked and prepped all our meals, snacks and everything ahead of time and planned to spend very little time in the kitchen. In addition to our meals, I also prepped and cooked all of Sophia’s meals.

Once we got there, we quickly discovered how peacefull Sandbridge, VA was and how calm, clean and warm the ocean was. We spent the days in the water and playing with Sophia. I must admit, she is not a fan of the heat or humidity. She is also not a fan of bright sunlight but by the end of the trip was happily sploshing in her little ducky tub filled with ocean water. In the evenings, I practiced knitting and was able to knit a few things for Sophia. I’ll post a few pictures soon.

This vacation is a steep departure from our previous vacations where hubby and I happily galavanted all over the world. It was, however, especially meaninful and marvelous because we got to spend time as a family, disconnected from all the troubles and cares in the world and unwound in our little cacoon of the quiet shusshing sound of the ocean. Relax, refreshed (well… as one can be with a child who doesn’t sleep longer than 3 hr at a time at night), we are back to reality and pining for out next getaway.

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Saturday has come and gone and it was pretty much a whirlwind. We hosted our family for a BBQ which came together quiet nicely. If you recall, I had put together an ambitious (with having a 8 month old at home) menu and was myself surprised that I was able to execute every single item on it and even add a summer corn and jalapeno succotash to boot.

The strategy I had was simple: I was not going to work past Sophia’s bedtime on Friday and instead relax and unwind so that I could get up early on Saturday and finish things up. I also focused on making dishes that were easiest, kept the best overnight and most fun to make first. I will say that our family was great. My mother-in-law came on Friday afternoon and took Sophia off my hands and my parents came Saturday early afternoon and helped clean up afterwards. We spent Sunday loafing and puttering.

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Since the weekend is fast approaching and with it our family BBQ, I decided that I should better develop a menu or face serious panic while grocery shopping Thursday afternoon.

Usually, I find menu planning rather fun, creative and relaxing. I am keen on making sure that all the guests’ dietary restrictions are accomodated such that noone feels like they are limited in their options and everyone can eat almost everything. For example, a guest at the party has a treet nut allergy and I am planning for the menu to be completely free of tree nuts. Another set of guests observe kosher dietary rules and I am making sure they can have both a main and a dessert (no easy feat considering most entrees are proteins and great desserts are typically loaded with butter)). Kids almost always are picky eaters and a BBQ is no place to try and coax a child to get diverse with food… I am including something cheesey, white and delicious. Lastly, I unite the menu with plenty of fruits and vegetables that most everyone loves.

So… here is the menu as I envision it now. I may change parts of it depending on what looks great at the grocery mart and how much time I have as I tackle the cooking process.

  • Shrimp cooked in Court-bouillon and Cocktail Sauce
  • Guacamole and Chips
  • Hummus and Pita Chips
  • Veggies and Dip
  • Roasted Vegetables
  • Oven Roasted Asparagus with Garlic and Balsamic Drizzle
  • Oven Roasted Potatoes (Fiery and Plain)
  • Veggie Burgers and Fixings (Lettuce, Onions, Tomatoes)
  • Truffled Mushroom Mac & Cheese
  • Grilled Chicken Marinated in Yoghurt, Ginger, Garlic and Spices
  • Grilled Chicken Marinated in Olive Oil and Herbs de Provence (dairy free)
  • Grilled Sausage
  • Grilled Pineapple served with (maybe homemade) Vanilla Ice Cream
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Oatmeal Cookies
  • Cupcakes (Vanilla)
  • Strawberry and Rhubarb Blondes
  • My Mother In-Law’s Famous Chocolate Cake (dairy free)

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Summer is here in full swing. In fact, it is here a little too much… I’ll give up a few degrees of heat to anyone in a cooler climate. We did not know this before, but the D.C. area sits on a giant swamp which means two things: humidity and bugs.

All that aside… we’ve owned our home for a little over a year now and have had informal gatherings for friends and immedeate family, but have not had a chance to welcome our extended families over. We’re finally doing that! Taking the plunge in entertaining with an eight and a half month old. The date: Saturday… the guest list consists of 20+ family members including wee ones. This is a test of our planning and execution proficiency in our cooking and entertaining departments. The next few posts will chronicle us getting ready by cleaning up, organizing, planning the menu and starting to cook. We are sharing our ongoing experience so that anyone who is thinking of entertaining with a little baby can learn from our experience too.

The last two weekends were spent in organizing the house which, much to my own embarrassment, still had boxes laying around in various rooms from our move. My parents came down both this and past weekend to help with some outdoor work and unpacking. As painful as it is (and was) to unpack, this party is a great forcing function in the long process of turning the house into a home. Thus far, the hubby and my parents put in many, many hours of yard work, window and skylight washing, and de-cluttering.

Next up, we will be planning the menu for the event and starting to cook sometime Friday (hopefully not late into the night). Stay tuned for the menu and in-progress pictures.

Cookery Life