Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Too Cranky to Blog

Looking at all these pictures, you'd think it was spring. And although the calendar says it IS officially spring, it isn't really. Not around here. It is cold. And cloudy. And soon it will start to rain, and maybe even snow a little. So I have been in a bad mood. I am tired of cold. I want to go outside and take walks and eat on the porch and ride my bike. I want to put away all the coats and hats that are hanging by the back door and driving me nuts. Anyway, I haven't felt much like blogging lately, and there hasn't been that much to blog about, really. I hope this is temporary.

A couple of quick things. We had the frozen tortellini that I made with the leftover butternut squash filling and the wonton wrappers. They were great! The wrappers worked out just fine. This is what they looked like:

I cannot wait to make this again. I very very highly recommend it. Giada never lets me down. I also made some of Bobby Flay's "apple pie oatmeal" over the weekend, but I forgot to take a picture. I saw him make it on his "Brunch at Bobby's" show, and it looked good. I have to say, it was a little on the sweet side for me, so next time I'll cut back on the sugar. But the steel cut oats were awesome and totally worth the time it took to cook them. The difference between instant oatmeal and steel cut oatmeal is like the difference between fried bologna and a juicy steak. Next time, I'll probably just make the oatmeal and throw in some blueberries and a little brown sugar. Yum. And good for the heart! Oatmeal is a Super Food! Anyway, here is the original Bobby Flay recipe. It is kind of fun to make. There is brulee-ing with a kitchen torch to make it interesting. (That's how he did it on the show anyway. I think the recipe says to put it under the broiler. Impress your kids and use a torch if you have one.)

Kevin and I went to see The Adjustment Bureau over the weekend. It was an interesting movie. A little hokey at times, but still pretty good. It makes you think, anyway. We also saw The Wrestler on PPV, which was very good, although not the most uplifting of movies. I can't believe that was Mickey Rourke in that movie. He looked like a totally different person. What a performance, though. He was great. I covered my head with my quillow during all that staple gun business. So disturbing.

OK, well, I will try to be back and in a better mood sometime soon. Soccer season starts this weekend. Hopefully there won't be snow. Snow in April is unacceptable. But I guess it's better than 90+ temperatures in October. Perhaps we'll have a nice mild summer this year. And maybe all this cold will make there be fewer bugs. I am starting to feel better already. Thank you, blog.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I Love the Library

I love libraries. And we are lucky to have an especially great local one. Yesterday, for the first time, I decided to take Daphne to the Teen Reading Buddy program they have on Monday afternoons. I've never taken her before because of naps, but naps seem to be a thing of the past for us, sadly. Anyway, on Mondays at 4:30, kids age 3-6 can go sit with a teenager and read. That's right. A real live teenager. Daphne is sort of obsessed with teenagers, so she was really excited when I told her we were going.

Also, yesterday afternoon, the library was hosting a speaker who is an Iditarod racer. She brought her sled and one of her dogs. If there is one thing Daphne is more in awe of than teenagers, it's huskie dogs. When I told her she might also get to see a real live huskie dog, she was beside herself. A teenager AND a huskie. It was all just too much.

The times of the two activities conflicted a little, but we were able to see the beginning of the sled dog presentation, go to Reading Buddies for about 45 minutes, and then head back to the presentation room for the end of the discussion. Daphne must have hugged me at least four different times and said "This is SO. AWESOME. Mommy."

Above is Daphne with her buddy, Steven (we picked him because of his orange hair), who was about the sweetest teenager I've ever met. He read her a bunch of stories, and at the end, she read an easy one to him. I waited outside the reading room and read magazines. By myself. In complete peace! I love Reading Buddies!

Below is Daphne with Borage the sled dog. It was really dark in the room, so it isn't a great picture, but you can tell how happy she is. The dog was beautiful, and surprisingly small. He was really calm and great with all the kids. I sorta want a huskie dog.

After we got home, it took Daphne a little while to come down from her library adventure high. Ah, the simple joys of being four.

Unrelated: Ok, according to the poll at the time I'm writing this post, 11 people have voted. I am happy to know that I am not crazy or a bad mommy. TEN of you have never heard of all this leprechaun business either. One of you HAS. Who are you? I need more information. Are you Irish? Do you live on my street? Because thus far, that's the only common thread I have found between the two families who rocked Daphne's world the other day. Please email me so we can discuss this.

OK, off to start our Tuesday. I'm afraid it will never live up to yesterday's greatness at the library, so I've got my work cut out for me. Wish me luck.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


We have spent the majority of the weekend outside. At last...three delightful days in a row. Since it's supposed to be getting cold again this week, I wanted to be outside as much as possible. Friday after school, we scootered down the trail to a friend's house for a picnic and playdate with a bunch of Daphne's school friends. The kids had a big time eating and then riding scooters and bikes in the driveway.
Half of the kids at this table required band-aids before the day was over.
Saturday we were busy with cleaning and errands. In the evening, we got to see the so-called Super Moon. It was a bit of a letdown, to be honest. I didn't think it was all that super. Some friends came over for a little band time, which was really fun. We definitely need to make that happen more often. The music sounded pretty good for a bunch of people who hardly ever play together. Daphne debuted her "Chicken Number Nine" song, which was a hit. I reckon we'll record it eventually.

This morning, we walked down to Shoes for breakfast, and then took a walk to the playground. I took advantage of some photo ops along the way.

And this afternoon, we went to Sunset Hills Vinyards, which we've never visited even though it's 12 minutes from our house.
It was a nice winery, but not our favorite. Too many restrictions! If you bring your own food, which we always do, they won't let you eat inside, so we had a picnic lunch even though it was a little chilly. Just as well. It was peaceful, and we saw a cool hawk. The rest of my family is having naptime now. I don't think Daphne is asleep, although she has to be exhausted. Tomorrow is Pajama Day at her school. If it was up to me, every day would be pajama day.

Just wondering if any of you have the St. Patrick's Day tradition where a leprechaun supposedly comes to your house and leaves chocolate gold coins and stuff all around. A couple of the neighbor kids were asking Daphne what the leprechauns left for her, which was NOTHING, because I have never ever heard of this before. Daphne was really mad. "Why didn't the leprechaun come to OUR house, Mom?" I didn't have a clue what to say. I told her maybe it was because we forgot to set a trap. (The other kids were talking about the traps they set.) What is all this about?! Is this something new? Is it a Virginia thing? Why wasn't I told? I felt so bad for Daphne. She really felt left out. But I just didn't know! There are no leprechauns in Texas! Anyway, I have added a poll to the sidebar regarding this. Please vote. Thanks.

I hear a lot of thumping upstairs, so I better go investigate. Maybe its the leprechauns, making up for lost time. I hope your weekend has been good, wherever you are.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Pi and Saturn

I apologize that you can't see the video I posted below about the Pi song. I don't know where you can see the video anymore, but if you want to at least hear the song, you can go here.

And below, you can watch a video from NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day. Kev sent me the link and this note:
"It is a series of images stitched together from Cassini's 2004 flyby of Saturn. These are natural color photographs, not computer-generated models."

Hooray for NASA! This is pretty amazing.

5.6k Saturn Cassini Photographic Animation from stephen v2 on Vimeo.

The Ravioli Experiment

I recently mentioned the delicious butternut squash ravioli I had at Travinia, and the coincidental Giada episode I saw in which she made a similar recipe.  Yesterday, I attempted it myself.  Things started out great.  I was WAY ahead of the game.  I made the filling in the morning, and in spite of my tiny food processor, I ended up with a nice creamy delicious filling.  I followed the recipe pretty closely, except I only had one shallot, so I only used one shallot.  I didn't really measure the other ingredients, but I think I stayed pretty close to the amounts in the recipe.

Then, my mom and dad took Daphne to the playground, and I thought it would be a perfect time to start wrapping the filling.  I couldn't find the wonton wrappers at Wegman's, so I got some fresh lasagne sheets, which I thought would be better anyway.  WRONG!  The were too heavy, so they smooshed out the filling.  And they didn't stick together.  Good thing I discovered this early in the day!  I walked to Safeway to get wonton wrappers.  They were out of wonton wrappers at Safeway.  Apparently, there were some "supplier issues."  I was assured by the cashier that he would get to the bottom of this, and there would be wonton wrappers back on the Safeway shelves soon.  Great!  But that wasn't really gonna help me.  So, I drove to Giant.  Aha!  Wonton wrappers!  I guess Giant doesn't have the same supplier issues as Safeway.  So I returned home with my wrappers, ready to fill them with delicious butternut squash goodness.

In the meantime, Kev, who had been getting a play-by-play of my difficulties via email, wrote and provided instructions for DIY pasta.  When I told him I am not good at dough, he offered to make it when he got home.  Kev is awesome.  But I really wanted to do it myself.  So in the afternoon, I attempted my first ever pasta dough, following the stand mixer directions.  FAIL!  I ended up with big oily brain-looking lump.  So, after watching some youtube videos, I tried again, and this time did it by hand.  SUCCESS!  I rolled out the dough (which was hard!) and a little while later had some (very rustic looking) raviolis, ready to be boiled and consumed.  Kev helped me with some rolling toward the end, after I sustained a minor rolling pin forearm injury.  I made the brown butter and sage sauce, and we ended up with the picture above.  Yum.  Well, mostly.  The filling and sauce were great, but clearly my pasta-making skills can use some work.  The pasta was too thick, and very heavy.  But it still tasted good, and I still ate too much.  And there are leftovers for tomorrow.  Tonight, we will be having the very easy-to-prepare no-fail sandwich night. 

This afternoon, I took the leftover filling - there was a LOT! - and the wonton wrappers from Giant, and made these tortellinis, which are in the freezer to use as back-up food.  Kev said he's never had much luck with wonton wrappers, so we'll see what happens when I cook them.  Certainly a lot easier than making the fresh pasta, but not as satisfying.

Completely unrealted:  I just finished reading this book on my Kindle.  This is not the kind of book I typically choose to read, but it was absolutely captivating.  I couldn't put it down.  Briefy, it is the true story of Louis Zamperini, who was an Olympic track runner and WWII POW camp survivor.  Such an amazing story.  You might like it.  I loved it.  And I learned a lot that I didn't know about WWII in the Pacific.  This book is gonna stick with me for a while.

Our weekend was busy as usual.  I went with my brother to dinner in DC.  Daphne spent the night with G-ma and G-pa.  We took a little family day-trip to Frederick, MD.  There are pictures on flickr.  The time sprang forward, and it is affecting me much more than it is Daphne.  She's fine.  I'm exhausted.  I want to smash my alarm clock every morning.  But, I'll get used to it, and it's nice to be able to take after-dinner strolls before dark.  I hope things are good wherever you are.  I'm off to watch pirate cartoons with the Peanut now.    Don't forget your green tomorrow!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Math Monday

I bet you didn't know it was National Pi Day today!  Thanks to Kev for sending me the link to this video.    Happy Pi Day!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

The Ups and Downs of Being Daphne

If you are one of my "Facebook Friends," then you already know that Daphne got off to a rough start yesterday. After breakfast and a little playtime, we were on the way upstairs for a bath. Daphne was moving in slow motion. Each foot would go draaaggg, stomp, draaaaggg, stomp, and there was a lot of heavy sighing. Finally, she announced, "I have SO many problems."
And it was only about 9:00am.
"What problems do you have," I asked.
"Well, I'm itchy. And I can't do a back flip. (draaaggg, stomp, draaaggg, stomp) NOTHING is going my way."

Oh dear. It's hard to be four.
But, nothing a nice trip to Trader Joe's can't fix! And after bathtime, that's where we headed.
Daphne was excited because Trader Joe's has these kid-size grocery carts she likes to push around. She likes to put Tyrone (her stuffed moose) in one and help me fill it up with delicious TJ's snacks. But when we got there, no carts. Uh-oh. They don't have them anymore. Luckily, Daphne immediately forgot about that because she spied the great Trader Joe's Hidden Monkey! If you don't know about this, there are stuffed animals hidden around Trader Joe's. If you find one, you get to pick something from the treasure box, and then YOU get to re-hide it. Daphne saw the monkey hanging out near the vitamins, collected her treasure (a mini TJ's chocolate bar!) and then hid the monkey on top of the giant pile of, you guessed it, bananas. (I have a very literal kid). Cart forgotten, crisis averted. Things were looking up. After picking up a few snacks, we were off to the sample area at the back of the store. Uh-oh. They only had tortellinis and sour dough bread. Yuck. Daphne was crushed. Until the nice Trader Joe's sample man gave her a little cup with about 12 TJ's cat cookies (like animal cookies) in it. "THIS IS THE BEST DAY EVER!" she exclaimed. And then to top it all off, the guy at the checkout gave her a whole bunch of St. Patrick's Day stickers.

Just when we thought things couldn't get any better, Kev came home and announced that the International Space Station would be flying over, followed shortly thereafter by the space shuttle Discovery. Daphne, who is turning into quite an astronomer thanks to this great book, was thrilled. Here is the ISS, in a photo taken yesterday by Discovery as it pulled away. Cool, huh?

Anyway, after dinner, Daphne gathered up her space station viewing supplies:

And Kev gave her a quick lesson about the shuttles:

Meanwhile, I set up chairs in the driveway, and we all went outside and had a little fly-over viewing party. We were lucky to have a really clear sky last night, especially since the clouds have moved in now and aren't going anywhere for a while. Seeing the station and the shuttle fly over was really awesome. I got chills. It's so sad that the shuttle program is ending. But don't get me started on all that. So, when the ISS and Discovery were out of sight, we looked at constellations for a while, and then went inside so Daphne could write down some field notes in her notebook:
She went to bed REALLY happy, thanks to the greatness of Trader Joe's and NASA. And it was a pretty good day for me, too.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Weekend Review

There was more painting.
We took our houseguest, Flat Lauren, on a bike ride to the playground for a picnic:
and some slide races (Daphne won):
Kev and I went out for a Mardi Gras dinner and some Dixieland Jazz at the Cajun Experience.  We ate some delicious gumbo, and enjoyed the band,  Laissez-Foure,  very much.  It was almost like being in New Orleans for a couple hours.  And we can WALK there from our house.  I love that.

I tried a new recipe this weekend for Pork Ragu (recipe here).  It was really good and EXTREMELY easy.  We had it twice over the weekend, and there is still enough for another meal tomorrow.  Yay!  Here are the changes I made to the recipe:  Wegman's didn't have boneless pork shoulder, so I used 3 pounds of boneless country ribs.  I don't think it made much difference, except the country ribs appeared to have a lot less fat.  I don't like tomatoes, so I used tomato sauce instead.  And I didn't have chili sauce, so I used a little barbecue sauce and a few splashes of tabasco.  The meat was very moist and had lots of flavor, although I think I may add some garlic next time.  Anyway, it took about 10 minutes to make...then it just goes in the oven for 3-4 hours.  Easy.  And Daphne liked it, so into the rotation it goes.

Speaking of good food, I went to dinner last week with one of my neighbors.  We decided to try Travinia, the new Italian place near Wegman's.  I had butternut squash ravioli, from the "small plates" menu and it was one of the best things I've ever had.  And just a few minutes ago, Giada made a very similar dish on her show.  So, I am planning to make this VERY soon.  I will report back.  So excited about this.

I am also experimenting with B vitamins.  I went to the health food store today and got a B Complex and a B-12 that melts under your tongue for better absorbtion.  I am hoping to increase energy and metabolism.  I will report back on this as well.

Last night, Kev and I watched 127 Hours.  It was a really good movie, but pretty disturbing.  The arm-cutting scene seemed to last 127 hours.  We had to mute it and look away.  But what an amazing story.  Good for that guy.

It was a good but busy weekend, and I am hoping now that painting is done for a while, next weekend will be a little more low-key.  I remember when weekends were all about taking naps.  I liked those days.

Daphne is asleep on the couch.  She didn't get a nap yesterday because she went to a birthday party.  And today after school, we had a play date.  So, she's exhausted.  Tomorrow is Mardi Gras, so we may go in search of a King Cake.  Or maybe we'll just make one.  I am hoping for nicer weather so we can at least take a walk.  There was SNOW on the ground this morning.  It's all melted now, but still.  I was not happy to see it. 

OK, better go wake up the Peanut.  She doesn't look very comfortable in there.

Friday, March 04, 2011

For the Nay-Sayers

Here are two of the contestants from this season of American Idol. I would totally buy this.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Goodbye, February

This weekend, the living room got new paint.
Daphne and Kev took a bike ride and had a picnic.
And I went to a very nice small baby shower brunch and ate way too much.
Didn't Daphne do a nice job painting? Who knew she was so skilled?!

Last week was all about schnitzel with noodles. One pork tenderloin provided three family meals and one lunch for Kev. Here is how I make pork schnitzel: Cut a pork tenderloin into slices about 3/4" thick. Pound them really really flat (that part is fun!). Prepare to dredge. First, in flour with salt, pepper, and sage. Second, in eggs beaten with a little water, salt and pepper. Third in smashed up saltine cracker crumbs and some panko. Then, I repeat the egg and the crackers. Then I put the cutlets in the fridge for a while. This seems to help the breading stay on. I cook them in a little oil in a frying pan, and finish them in the oven while I make the gravy, noodles, apples, and broccoli. If I make spaetzle, I usually need a little help from Kev with the timing...getting everything to be ready at the same time is tricky. Anyway, the cracker-crumb breading is tasty. I think the double coating is the secret.

We finished up the schnitzel on Sunday, and I asked what my family wanted to eat this week. Kev said, "You could make that bean and chicken concoction." He was talking about Giada's white bean and chicken chili, but he refuses to call it chili. So last night, we had the concoction for dinner and it was awesome. We should be able to have it for at least one more family meal and a lunch. Maybe more. I love food that lasts all week. Tonight, everyone is getting a turkey sandwich. I probably won't have to really cook again until Friday. Yep.

Daphne has a stuffy nose. Probably allergies from being out in the wind this weekend. But I'm keeping an eye on her in case she gets the cough that has turned into pneumonia for a few of her classmates. School tomorrow will be a game-time decision, but I hope she can go. I'm in a contest a Curves and can't afford to miss a work-out.

I am being asked to play "Jake and the Neverland Pirates" (terrible show) in the other room now, so I better go. AAAARRRGH!!!

PS. It's MARCH! YAY!!!