Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Oh, I'm an Octopus and I'm OK...

Right after naptime is not the best time for taking photos, but I wanted to get some pictures of the finished Octo-suit before it goes to preschool on Thursday. I am mostly happy with the way this turned out. There are things I would probably do differently if I made another one of these - which, if the good Lord is willing, I never EVER will - but this will be fine. And Daphne is happy with it, so that's really all that matters. I'll try to get pictures of this little octopeanut in action at the school parade and during trick-or-treating. Sadly, though, it is literally supposed to rain on the big town parade. It will be disappointing if we don't get to see what the camel is wearing for this one...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pickin' and Grinnin'

If you live in a place that has apple orchards, you are almost obligated to go apple picking in the fall. So, yesterday we picked up Grandma and Grandpa and headed to Stribling Orchard in Markham, VA. This is a very nice, big orchard, and even though the parking lot was full, it didn't feel crowded. After the picking, we warmed up by a little bonfire, and enjoyed some grilled hot dogs and hamburgers from the snack area. It was a great way to spend a Sunday morning. and we were all exhausted afterward, but in a good way.

So, we brought home 14 pounds of apples. I need ideas. There is only so much apple pie one can eat. Last night, I started off Apple Week (or perhaps Month) with this delicious apple chicken curry (recipe here). It was easy and so good, and Daphne liked it a lot so it's going on the Keeper list. I stuck pretty much to the recipe for the sauce, but I cut the chicken into little pieces and cooked them in a frying pan. Then I put them in a baking dish with the sauce and put it all in the oven for about 15 minutes. Next time, I may substitute coconut milk for the regular milk.

I will probably make another apple pie, and maybe some apple butter. Caramel apples too, maybe, but I'd prefer to make things with peeled apples since these ones don't have the greatest looking skins (I fear mold). And, if I get brave, I may try apple dumplings. Please feel free to suggest other ideas if you got 'em.
OK, off to start my Monday. This week is all about Halloween. Then, I really need to start thinking about Christmas. I'd like to avoid Holiday Panic this year...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Add it to the List

I got this book at the library. Oh, I want it, I want it, I want it. It must weigh about 5 pounds, and it has very few photos, but still I want it.

Today, Daphne's class went on a Nature Hike at school. Each kid got a bag to fill with "treasures." Daphne made me wait until we got home so she could unveil her loot to me and Kev. I wish I could go to preschool. They get to have ALL the fun.

Here she is, choosing her favorite treasure. It's orange. And below, a little sneak peek:

Time to knit!

Now We're Getting Somewhere...

The costume is starting to take shape, and if all goes well with the head, by Halloween, my little Peanut should be transformed into the purple octopus of her dreams. (Does this make me an Octomom?) For all the time I've put into this thing, I should get to be Mom of the Year. Daphne could easily still fit into the Dorothy costume from last year (hooray for Target!). Oh well...it's been kind of fun working on it, and the best part is that she really appreciates it. This morning she went in and hugged it and said "It's byew-tiful, Mom!"

What a difference from yesterday, when there were many fits and tears and general bad behaviors. This picture was taken at Hamilton Park, right before a little public display of stinkerness which led to a quick retreat and a loss of the Hannah Montana guitar for at least a day. About every 8-10 days, my sweet little girl is temporarily (thank goodness!) replaced by Veruca Salt. It's no fun for anyone.
Last night, Kev bravely held down the fort and looked after Veruca so I could go to the Bloggers For Good event. It was fun, and I met some really nice people, whose blogs I look forward to reading. When I got home, Kev and the Peanut were watching the Wizard of Oz peacefully on the couch. Aaaah. Good Daphne is back.
OK, I have an octopus head to assemble. Watch out, Project Runway...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Sun Came Out!

The sun finally came out on Monday, so yesterday, I took this picture of my new favorite tree, which is in the parking lot at Daphne's school. It is so orange and beautiful! Here's a close-up:

The trees in our yard aren't really doing much. I expected more from the maples out front, but maybe they are just taking their time. Meanwhile the Ginko next door is dropping its berries. You may remember from last year what THAT means.

Daphne's quest to become a rock star continues. Yesterday while I was "making" dinner (HA! I reheated some leftover fusilli with chicken and vodka sauce...sprinkled on some bread crumbs and parmesan - Voila! Fusilli Surprise!*), Daphne came into the kitchen with her mic and serenaded me for about 20 minutes. It was so funny. She was making up some kind of song about wanting a lullaby for Christmas.
Last Saturday was the one year anniversary of our little family of three's first night together in Virginia. We did nothing to commemorate, as it was a miserable rainy cold day. Plus, we kinda forgot. I think probably what we should actually celebrate is the anniversary of the day we moved OUT of that first apartment in Herndon and moved INTO our house here in Leesburg. In spite of the ginko berries, that was a much happier day.
I can't believe we've been here a year. Wow.
Tonight, I am going to an event/meeting sponsored by a group called Bloggers For Good. Here is their website. I am looking forward to meeting some other bloggers there, and finding out more about the organization. If there is a way for all this blogging to do some good, I'm all for it. I'll let you know how it goes.
OK, breakfast time.
* I told Daphne the pasta was called fusilli. I said, "Isn't that a funny name?" She said, "No mommy, it's a silly name!" That's my corny little Peanut!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Pie Results

This is the pie, right before I ate it. The recipe is here. It was good, especially the crust. I think it would have been better if that apples had cooked longer, but everyone else liked it a lot. Time to start planning Pie II.

Young 97

Daphne got a Hannah Montana microphone today from G-ma and G-pa. Here is what she did with it (press "play" now please).

Earlier today, Kev and Daphne were making lists of things. On one list, she had him write down her favorite rock bands. This is what she told him to write:

  • Rocknoceros
  • Rock Band (the game)
  • They Might Be Giants
  • The Kinks
  • Old 97s
  • Dan Zanes
  • The Beatles
  • Herbie Hinkle
  • The Morning Benders (which she referred to as "you know that band, mom, that we listened to when we went on that long hike with Uncle Jeff and my dad, and you sat by me in the car and you were eating those chips.")

Daphne is three, and she is already so much cooler than me.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Making of Pie

I had a helper.
There were some tense moments.
There was chaos.
There were apples on the floor.
There was licking of little fingers.
There was flour everywhere.
I might have yelled a couple times.
(But I didn't say any swear words).

Then, it was finally time to paint the pie.
All of the chaos and yelling and licking stopped,
and it was just a mom and her kid,
making a pie.

Then, it was clean-up time.
I didn't have a helper for that part.

And now, we have pie.

And tonight, we get to eat it.
Na-nanny boo boo.

Long Term Goals

Right now, if you ask Daphne what she wants to be when she grows up, she'll say, "A mommy who is an artist who paints pictures of space things and plays in a rock band in the house." I'm on board with that.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


It is cold. And rainy. Just really yucky outside. Here is last night's Split Pea soup with ham and potatoes. Not my best batch ever, but it was pretty OK. Nice and warm anyway. And Daphne ate it without a fuss, so that's always good. The croutons were the best part in my opinion.

Kitchen Tip: Any time you have some bread that is getting stale, make some croutons. It is easy, and so much better than the ones in the store. Just cut your bread into cubes, toss them in a bowl with some olive oil or melted butter and whatever else you want to flavor them with (basil, oregano, garlic, salt, pepper, parmesan cheese, whatever). Then put them on a cookie sheet in the oven (375) until they get nice and crunchy (15 minutes or so...just check on them). Good stuff.

Here is where I spent the last 45 minutes or so. Fire, chai, yarn, and quiet. What could be better on a day like this? Hmmmm...perhaps a pie...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Settling In

Here is the happy sign that greeted us when we arrived home from our trip on Monday evening. Nice, huh? I like the colors. I think maybe Kev is secretly glad he married someone who keeps lots of arts and crafts supplies around. What did he do - besides fashioning banners - while we were gone, you ask? Well, he had a whole list. It included items like:
  • make a list, and
  • check things off the list.

But in spite of that, he actually got quite a bit done while we were gone, and enjoyed having some quiet time. He went to the coffee shop, took walks, went on a bike ride, did some recording, read a book, etc., as well as worked on this stool (below) for Daphne:

And he got a really cool bench for our entry hall, which was a nice surprise for me:

So, I think he made the most of his time.
I am slowly getting settled back in to my At Home Routine. I have unpacked and gotten all the laundry done. I have been to the grocery store. Now, Daphne is taking a nap, and as soon as I finish this blog, I am going to knit for a little while. Soon, though, I have a new project to embark upon:

This gaint pile of purple Garanimals (SO cheap at WalMart) is destined to become Daphne's Halloween costume. She has commissioned me to make her a purple Octopus suit. I am not exactly sure how I'm going to pull it off. Chances are, it will turn out OK, but no matter what I do, I'm sure it will be met, at least at first, with some resistance. You see, Daphne gets these ideas in her head, and if the final result isn't exactly like she has imagined it, she balks. And pouts. And stomps away with her arms folded, saying, "That's not right!" So wish me luck.

Tonight is soup night. This time, split pea with ham and potatoes. It's nice and cold today, so this will be perfect. My peas (above), which are from Huber's, have been soaking since yesterday afternoon, and it's just about time to change the water (for a third time) and get them simmering. I'm afraid I cannot share this recipe. I learned it from Kev, and there are secret ingredients. I'm surprised, actually, that he told them to me.
In a few days, our little family will have been in Virginia for a year. Wow. There have been a lot of ups and downs. It has not by any means been easy. That being said, it gets easier every day, and although I will always feel like a Texan, Virginia is becoming more like "home" and less like a really really long weird vacation. If only I could just import my friends and some decent barbeque. Sigh.
OK, well, time to start the peas and do some knitting while I have the chance. Daphne actually went to sleep on the first try at naptime today, rather than getting up 3 or 4 times to potty or get a drink or blow her nose or have me re-adjust her blankies. I have perhaps discovered the secret to getting her to do whatever I want: threaten to take away the Hannah Montana guitar. Works like a charm...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Back to Reality

This picture was taken exactly a week ago at Daphne's Great Country Farms field trip. It seems like months ago. Immediately after the field trip, my mom, Daphne and I took off on our road trip to Indiana. We arrived in Beckley, West Virginia in time for dinner, stayed in a hotel overnight, and drove the rest of the way the next day. Thus began my quest to check off everything on my Indiana list, which, in spite of two solid days of miserable rain and my mom (and primary babysitter) having a bad cold, I somehow managed to do. I got my fried biscuits with apple butter (below) from Huber's, chicken and dumplings and an apple dumpling from the Harvest Homecoming booths, made multiple trips to the Zesto, got my Pizza King fix, and got a pedicure (thanks Kathy!).
Plus, there were the added bonuses of a night out with my cousin Jeremy and his wife Paula with a stop at this cool brewhouse:

And a Rock Band party with just about the WHOLE extended family, which was big fun:

As you may be able to see from the picture, Daphne was absolutely in awe of Rock Band. She studied my cousins very seriously, tried out the Wii guitar and drums, then went upstairs, found a Hannah Montana guitar and microphone, and proceeded to go into a closet to practice alone until she felt comfortable enough to re-join the game, this time on vocals. My cousin's wife happened to have an extra one of these Hannah Montana guitars still in the box (her daughter got THREE for Christmas), so she generously gave it to Daphne, who has been playing it non-stop and practicing her rock moves. The best part is that she REALLY wants to get Rock Band now and even begged her daddy for it on the phone. Keep it up, little Peanut!

AND I got to go see a movie with the wives. (Whip It is really very good! And it was filmed in Austin which makes it even cooler).

Overall, it was a good trip, but I think we were all ready when it was time to head back home. The drive on I-64 through West Virginia and western Virginia was beautiful, and at times even spectacular. We were in the mountains for about 75-80% of the trip, and the fall foliage was near peak. I recommend travelling this route if you can sometime. (Here is a tip, though: In spite of the extremely promising name, you just want to avoid Biscuit World. Trust me.)
Kevin welcomed us home last night with a big "Welcome Home" banner, a nice home-cooked dinner, and surprises for me and Daphne. I want to take pictures, but my camera's batteries are charging. Stay tuned.
The class field trip, which seems so very very long ago, was really fun. The kids got to take a hay ride out to the pumpkin patch to pick their own, they got to feed farm animals, and play on cool things like giant inflatable jumping pillows and tube slides and Tire Mountain. There are pictures of all this on flickr for those who want to see. Virginia is a good place to be in the fall. It is seriously time to plan my first pie.
So, thanks to everyone in Indiana for hosting us and putting up with us. It was great to see ALL of you, and I hope none of you get my mom's cold. (Special shout out to Aunt Mary because she is probably the biggest fan of this blog. See you Thanksgiving!) I will be back in April, so get ready. If Daphne and I are successful at getting our own Rock Band by then, we'll bring instruments and the Beatles one. In the meantime, someone PLEASE teach Jakob another song. If I never hear "Eye of the Tiger" again, it will be too soon.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Good Eats

Sunday was all about Good Eats. We started off with breakfast on the porch featuring pancakes from the Kerbey Lane pancake mix that my parents brought me from Texas. Kerbey Lane serves the best pancakes in the world, but it is in Austin. If you are not in Austin and can't go there, the mix is the next best thing. I was excited to find out that when I run out my current supply of mix, I can order it on line.

Dinner was a giant pot of Guinness Beef Stew. Here is the recipe. I made this last year during the Winter of Soup. Last time, I changed it up a little, but this time I stuck to the recipe exactly. It was delicious. If you want your family to like you even more than they already do, make them this stew. Daphne even liked it. There were enough leftovers for Kev to have two meals this week, plus there was some to freeze for a future pot pie.
Friday was Kev's company picnic (pictures on Flickr). It was a Big Production. There was a DJ, tons of food, carnival games, arts and crafts, a human gyroscope, and various bounce activities. We had a great time. Daphne's favorite part was watching the teenagers do cool line dances. I wanted to join them...it looked like so much fun. There must have been 2000 people or more at the picnic. I wonder how much it all cost.

Meanwhile, I finished knitting a little quick scarf for Daphne. She loved it, and was eager to pose for pictures. I don't know where she learned this one. Maybe she's been watching America's Next Top Model while I cook dinner. It is nice that Daphne appreciates the things I knit for her. Someday, she'll just think it's dorky.
Tomorrow morning her class is going on a field trip to Great Country Farms. I am going too. We will be taking a hay ride to the pumpkin patch, feeding farm animals, and going on tube slides, rope swings, and the gigantic jumping pillow. Immediately after, Daphne, my mom, and I are heading for Indiana for our annual Harvest Homecoming trip. I cannot wait. Chicken and Dumplings, Apple Dumplings, Zesto, Pizza King, a Fun Slide, and more are all waiting for me. Plus, there is talk of a Rock Band party at my cousin's house on Saturday night. It is going to be a great trip. I wish Kevin could go, but I am pretty sure he is looking forward to having a few days to himself. Plus, he gets all the leftover beef stew.
So, there will probably not be blogging until we return next week. You can look forward to pictures of food. See you soon.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Scenes from a Big Week

I am a sucker for good packaging. The pudding was good, but the boxes are better. Actually, I haven't tried the chocolate yet. Am thinking of layering it with crushed graham crackers and torched marshmallows.

Saturday was Lovettsville Oktoberfest. It would have been fun if I hadn't been rapidly coming down with Daphne's cold. This is Daphne's pumpkin. His name is Harry and he now lives on our porch.

On Sunday, Daphne and Kev took care of me. They went to the store. Daphne helped (above). And they made chicken soup. Daphne helped (below). It was good.

I am better now. Thanks, family.

Meanwhile, knitting. I finished the scarf above for my mom's birthday just in time for her arrival in VA. Not for a visit, but for good. Jeff, Albert and my dad arrived the day before, so now they are all here, living in an extended stay hotel, waiting for their house to be finished. It's been a long time coming. We celebrated with stromboli.
Now, I have to go pick up Daphne from school. We have an after-school mission: to buy a toy for Albert.
It was 46 degrees this morning! I love fall.