Wednesday, September 30, 2009

good bye summer, con't

We had Italian Vegetable Stew for dinner tonight, from a recipe in this month's Gourmet.  The recipe matched the ingredients I had on hand and it seemed quick and easy. The bonus was how yummy it was. It may be the simplicity of the whole thing and the freshness of the end of summer veggies - don't know but I must have said yum too many times during dinner.


3 carrots, cut lengthwise and 1/4 inch slice

3 zucchini prepared the same
one or two red peppers
2 onions
24 oz tomatoes (was so lucky to use some the tomatoes from my canning gone wrong experiment - so yummy
heaping handful of green beans
3 boiling potatoes
1/2 c chicken broth

oops I wrote out the directions but did not save - if you want them, ask me!

I also took a lead from Bi-Rite and served this with Serrano Ham and Procuto wrapped figs....

good bye summer

We are a little delayed here in SF. We don't actually get much of a summer but you are as likely to find that summer day in Autumn, or even Winter. I've been here for 14 years and still find myself wandering around the seasonal calendar confused. Yesterday, I decided to say good bye to summer by purchasing a few items I won't put in my shopping cart until next year. I got three quarts of strawberries and some black mission figs, and a bunch zucinni (well these will not go away for us all fall.)  After school we brought home Avalon for a playdate and we all sat down to a strawberry short cake, which I must admit I did not make all summer. The strawberries were a little disappointing - lesson learned, leave them behind after Labor Day. I adapt a scone recipe from The New Joy of Cooking, it's actually always marked by the red ribbon that is attached to the binding. Oatmeal Scones. We make these all the time, the melted butter makes them easy for breakfast or afternoon treat. I did not have any whipping cream so Avalon's mom donated Devenshire cream - a little bit much!

Oven at 450, ungreased baking sheet
Whisk together:
1 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup sugar, or less
1 tablespoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt
Stir in:
1 1/4 cup rolled oats
(they make with Raisins or Dates. We usually add candied ginger and walnuts but today they were plain)
Whisk together, then add all at once:
1 large egg
10 tablespoons warm melted unsalted butter
1/2 cup of milk

Drop scones: makes 6 LARGE scones.

Eli's crab

Sunday, September 27, 2009

standard fare


Yesterday I painted the spice cabinet door with blackboard paint. It's quite dark but I like the idea of having a place for children to draw and for me to make grocery listst. Eli is skeptical of the dark door, but he's never liked change.

eva's haircut

Eva's been longing to get a haircut. We cut 6 inches off the week before school but she was ready for a short cut. All week she's been begging for me to cut her hair as long as Eli's hair. I applaud the fact that she could care less what she looks like, and I  mean she truly doesn't. She wants to climb trees without hair in her eyes, who can blamer her, and she's tired of hair brushing and pinching braids. I told her I had short hair for 5 years as a little girl and I loved the freedom but did not like being called a boy all the time. This did not disuade her. I was feeling a little funny yesterday after a near panic attack after being caught in Saturday traffic, no less than 25 bad driving incidents and frutile errand running. When we sat down to play a round of Pass the Pigs, I realized it was perfect time to cut hair as Eli was at a birthday party. So I did it, once I made the first cut to the nape of her neck my stomach lurched. I also had to face something inside of me that I'm not completely proud of, that I loved her long hair, I loved seeing her big smile and her hair whipping around as she moved  about the world. Anyway, I cut and cut and cut and finally it was done. After I made a mental adjustment I could not take my eyes off my lovely girl. We went to see chamber music and I wanted to nibble her neck as it was do delicious looking on view. May I present the new Eva Gray.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


I've been thinking for a while about making Eva a kerchief/headband. I went through my fabulous stash of new sewing books and score, discovered a cute headband in Weekend Sewing I did a quick catch-up on and she was featuring a new Japanese sewing book called Carefree Clothes for Girls and when I followed the link they featured directions for a kerchief. Today I did a little mix-match on the ideas, I took the kerchief idea and blended it with the elastic under strap thinking about how difficult it would be for Eva to tie herself or at least how annoying. I did make it today - will post photo soon.

Monday, September 21, 2009

finished letter sachels

A Handmade Home by Amanda Soule

bay bridge

 we don't cross over the Bay Bridge too often but the construction is a highlight of any visit. yesterday we got to go over the new temporary section from treasure island, this spured many conversations of the new vrs old brigde. as we were leaving the bridge Eva was looking out the window dreamily, she said, "I'm going to to miss the old bridge when it is gone, it's like an old friend that is dying."  I let her be in that moment for while then asked her if she'd like to throw flowers in to the water when it's gone, she quickly said no that she wanted just to remember it. later when we were getting ready for bed she said she'd like to find a metal box, since the bridge is metal, and put something in it to throw in the water.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

kid friendly

I hatched a new plan to spend more time with the children in the space. I find at home I'm always distracted with the socks on the floor, dishes on the table, ingredients in the fridge in need of preparation. Eli gets out of school at 1:00 and Eva at 2:30. Today I went with Eli and my friend Jillian and her daughter Violet to the space. Cardboard was the big draw today, literally and figuratively. Violet took home a lovely layered pastel piece and Eli left behind the beginning of a city. Jillian helped me as I worked on the focus of my camera, still unpredictable but I feel I have a little more control over the settings. After our friends departed Eli and I had an hour to just hang while Eva had a playdate across the street with Luca, so much for hanging with mom, she got cookies.

Monday, September 14, 2009

taking stock of the larder

here's what I get out of my canning, minus the one jar of tomato sauce I knocked off the pyramid.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

eva the neighborly neighbor

this afternoon, Eva + Eli went in to the back yard to frolic, I'm pretty sure at the request of a parent as they were running and screaming through the house. i was surfing the web luxuriously on my bed over-hearing snip-its of conversations. after a few times, I realized Eva was chit-chatting with people that were attending an open-house for our neighbors selling their upstairs flat. one conversation went something like this, eva, "so do you like the house?" child replies, "we don't live here." eva, "I know but do you like it? I do." she kept speaking to children off and on. i chuckled to myself when I thought back 10 year ago when we looked this place, one reason I loved it so was when I saw two young girls, about eva's age now chasing around a big lemon tree. anyway, soon eva sounded different to me, I looked out the window and she was up on the top deck of the apartment with the family she liked. I heard her telling them she'd gone through the garage, into the neighbor's yard, over their fence and up the stairs. I told eva not to return this way as the fence was looking a little creaky so i went and retreived her around the block. we ended up chatting with the family who loves the flat and the neigbhor's selling their place, I think Eva has a furture in Real Estate.

quilting connection

a few weeks ago I was searching for a quilting/fabric shop in town. I saw that there appears to be a great little one out in the Sunset District called Peapod Fabrics . While searching their pages, I saw a woman from my church, Heather, photographed wearing an apron she'd just finished. (see heather: Today I saw her at church and we had the best conversations about quilts. she confirmed the store is an amazing source. the proprietor had helped her figure out what to do with some heirloom quilting pieces that her mother and grandmother had, some dating back to the 1800's. when I told her of my family quilt she got so excited and insisted I MUST finish the quilt and it dawned on me, of course, I'm part of the family and just the one to carry on the process. I even got weepy telling Heather my project idea. She's going to invite me to join her at one of her crafting nights. I love this process. She kept saying, "listen to you, you're a quilter just by the way you're thinking of the project." How much better does this get.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

checking in with beloved blogs

After a rough day of sewing on Eli's little letter envelope that included tearing label after sewing, melting the acrylic Chinese material, shaky stitching altogether (see post Tuesday, August 18, 2009, crafting for girls), I checked in with a beloved blog,soulemama to see that she is at the final stages of a quilt. I know quilting is in, I know I'm jumping in to a trend but did I have to see one in it's final stages today? I have much to learn over this year about sewing, the craft of quilting and what's going to keep me on course are comments like this one from Eli as he looked over her very flawed letter envelope, "oh that (pointing to the place where the too hot iron melted the fabric) will remind of this day we made the bag." if he could always be in my fan club. I'm not going to be stopped by this day. Eva's reward for being second to get her bag sewn is that keeps telling Eli, "Mine will be better since mama will know how to sew better next time."

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

my corner of the world

I was obsessed with my old Polaroid Landcamera I got for $5, 14 years ago from a yard sale. Some of my favorite photos were taken in Art and my early days in SF. Seeing the images on the blog Orangette, I was inspired to get mine out again. Of course the batteries were corroded. Yesterday I sat down at my space and cleaned it out lovingly with a baking powder solution, purchased a packet of color film and after an adjustment, tah dah, I have a the beloved blurry images I love, so expect to see more.

Monday, September 07, 2009

lovn' summer shelling beans

I go to the best grocery stores in the City, by my opinion, Bi-Rite, Canyon Market and of course Rainbow Coop. I fall in to a rut, I buy the same things over and over, granted they are in season. I get stretched by our CSA box that will throw out a new vegetable and start a new love affair, like the watermelon radish, don't get me started. Gourmet's Bevy of Beans and Basil just did it for me. I tried to get a variety of bean for a salad and this one said summer shelling beans and what do you know, there they were right there next to all the other standards I reach for every week. These were cranberry beans, I par-boiled them added them to the Italian flat bean and standard greens beans - fun texture and went well with the grilled pork chops and figs.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Eat-in a day of action

I was inspired by the Eat-in that was part of the Slow Food Nation last Labor Day weekend. I drove past Dolores park to see a 50 yard table spread with white table clothes with folks dining together. I made an attempt to gather a 15 + group for our own Eat-in at the urging of Slow Food to send a message to our Congress regarding the Child Nutrition Act which comes up for review every and only 5 years. It ended up being three families and I registered it with Slow Food as an official site. Here are a few images and check us out on the site. Ours was tiny but we got out there and ate in style.

Here are images from the national celebration:

Saturday, September 05, 2009

can I can?

My hubris was up after my initial success with the tomato sauce and grapefruit marmalade. I ordered 40 lbs of Early Girl tomatoes from a farmer with an overrun, joyfully picked them up on Wednesday from her parking spot on Folsom Street. I had wanted to get them the next week knowing how the busy first week of school might go and the long weekend with little plans scattered on the schedule but felt confident I could do it, overly so, without really coming up with a plan of action. Long story short, 3 hours of pealing 1/2 the tomatoes on Friday a.m., tried a combo of 3 quarts and 3 pints only to have the pints leak (should have re-canned but I went to to make more mistakes,) pealed more tomatoes and foolishly left them on the counter, they soured (mostly the top), discarded those, made sauce out the rest, tasted funny, kept adding sugar, yikes now have too much sweat/soured tomato sauce. Alas, I was shaken on Saturday but had to save face on Sunday by making 3 jars of yummy elderberry jam, 2 jars pickled spiced carrots, three jars of pickled peperoncini peppers and roasting and saving 10 red peppers. Sorry only have photos from the process on Friday, I was not in the mood to capture the chaos of Saturday. I must have some pride about me.

I don't know how to quilt

I realize I need to sign up for a quilting class. I hope a quilt store has a short class. Last year City College offered a class but I'm not ready for a semester commitment.

Friday, September 04, 2009

new favorite breakfast

i've enjoyed that last peaches of the season and thanks to the Ferry Plaza Cookbook, we've been enjoying a suggestion from the owners of Frog Hollow Farms (peaches!) I toast good crusty bread, brush with good olive oil and then use what cheese I have, feta or ricotta and add peeled sliced peaches.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

hours in my space

The second day of school found me fleeing to my space. I'd have three hours to myself. I reviewed notes from my big day at the space and was ready for some preliminary research. My inspiration started with some photos taken over Christmas on the last few moments I was in my parents home which ended up being my last time there while my parents resided at 1344 Chatham Road. I had my F100, a roll of BW film and only 15 minutes before I was due to leave and join Art and the children at his mom's. When I looked through my lens at the rooms, they seemed so empty to me, why would I want a photo of a room, it seemed almost creepy. I started snapping photos of little reminders of home, the door knobs that can evoke the sound of someone entering a room, the screen door from the garage that only was in place in the summer but was banged 40 times a day as I went about my summer play, the contents of my dad's dresser top as I'd look at it during quiet moments while just "being" in my parent's room. The idea sounded great but when I saw the scans of the images I'd hoped they'd inspire a larger project for me but I was underwhelmed with their visual impact. As I spent my indulging day, I ended with the idea of making a quilt. As I've mourned my loss of a home to return to, I realized that it's not just the physical place I'll miss but the security that I felt when I was little and that my parents provided, the sound of them in the house, the place to take my children back to visit. I feel that a quilt will represent the feeling of safety and warmth I have for going home. I am in possession of our "family" quilt, albeit unfinished, that was made sometime in the late 1700's. The flax was grown on my dad's family property and family clothing used for the pattern. It was not until this was in my possession that I realized the weight of passing on a family heirloom.

Back to the specifics of the quilt ideas. That first day I dreamed of somehow incorporating the the photos in to the quilt by maybe a phototransfer method or printing the images on to material. Anyway, last week I left the space to spend some time at Borders looking at books. I looked through every crafting, sewing, quilting book they had to offer. I ended up purchasing two books: Last Minute Patchwook + Quilted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson and Printing by Hand by Lena Corwin. The latter of the two really does not have anything to do with this project unless I end up making some of my own fabric. As I looked through all the books I would think if the pattern were appropriate for photos integration. I was specifically inspired by a quilt by Joelle that is a solid fabric with a pattern running along the botton with little squares, maybe I could have the images peaking through, as a foundation. More to think about. I also got an inspiration about the stitching but this will just have to wait.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

first day of school

We'll we're off and running now. Sleepy, excited Eva came in to the kitchen first this morning followed by VERY sleepy crabby Eli that needed to begin his day with a long hug. I put the goods in their baskets, fed them strawberries, eggs and toast, tea and left them to eat while I got ready. We'd have to leave extra early today with all the goings-on at school. The team was dressed and ready to go at 7:30ish. We had our traditional photo session on the side walk that holds most of our holiday card images then loaded in to the Mazda. It was not a rushed morning and it felt pretty good to be heading across town to a familiar place.

As we found a parking space near Alta Plaza I saw Karen, Jackson and Ruby. Just the sight of them made me weepy as Karen in my fellow cryer at ceremony time. I passed this on to her as she passed and we gave a quick hug for fortification. We approached the school seeing so many familiar faces, smiles and greetings abound. Dagmar, Eli's teacher opened the door to the school with a wide smile on her face, I handed off the jar of grapefruit marmalade and her smile got wider. We barely got Eli settled in to class when I saw Eva heading off with Tomaso to her new classroom. I ran out to join her. It was odd walking in to this new classroom, full of desks. The children all sit at double desks, we look around and quickly found Eva's desk and guess what, Jackson was her desk partner. My fear came true, Eva is towards the back of the room but I understand they move the children around throughout the year according to their needs, talking etc. Eva settled in and I let her be just be for a while. I then went to her when she got a funny look on her face, she was overwhelmed how loud it was with all the student and parents in the small room. Perfectly timed, Art arrived and spend a quiet moment with her. We left her there and went back to join Eli and see all the new faces in his class which are quite a lot. It'll take while to get so meet all the new families. I looked out the window and saw the first graders heading to the ceremony site escorted by their parent so Art and I scooted to be with Eva. She wanted nothing to do with us as she was with her friend Beatrice. Leslie, Bea's mom and laughed at how independent our girls were. We found a place in the circle with our child on our lap. I held her and snuck my nose in her hair over and over. She was so big on my lap, heavy, limbs almost reaching my own extension. The teacher, Ms Fendell introduced the handwork, Spanish, music, and other teachers to us and the children. She then told a story about a child being born and how parents planted a tree a the same time, how the child first did things that were not always good like breaking things, needing help etc. and how the tree was always quiet and growing. It's funny but I so wanted to be in the moment that I lost the story line as I sat there with Eva on my lap. I tuned back in when Ms. Fendell told how the child grew and soon was helping without being asked, how the tree had deep roots that made it strong and the sun to help it grow and then some comparison to the child having the sun it it's heart. She told of the parent being the first teacher and how it was time for the child to grow and find a teacher that will help this sun in their heart grow. At this point she had the children stand take a red rose and give it to us to keep with us to remind us of our chilren. Then she had the chilren hold hands, parent hold hands and let the children know that all parents were their support at which time the children sang a song about an apple tree and spiraled out the door through a bridge made by two parents at the door. It may sound corny at this reading but my eyes were filled to brim many times throughout the 20 minutes together.

I then ran off to a meeting of the kingergarten gardening parents and then back to the rose ceremony. At this time the entire grade school welcomes the first graders. The class teachers tell a story that gives an image of what their grade will be learning for the year, examples include about St Francis of Assis and other do-gooders, Michelangelo, the story of Genisis and beginning of time, etc.....the ceremony ends with the each eighth grader giving a rose to an individual first grader and escorting them in to a circle. Eva was proud. When I asked Eva about it later she said that she did it instead of running out the door, which is what she wanted to do. She was embarassed to stand there in front of all the older students. I was secretly relieved when I found out the older kids were making rude remarks during the ceremony, alas there is reality in all of this preciousness.

When I got Eli he complained that he was still tired. I asked him what his favorite part of the day was, he confessed that it was seeing Eva in the yard during recess. I sensed that during the 1 1/2 hour wait for Eva's dismissal he is lonely for her in class. He said he does not know how to be a second year kindergartener yet. On the car ride home, Eva talked with Eli saying that she realized that he must miss her but that it'd be okay. Eli is not conviced of this yet, it'll take while to be on his own.

On the way home we picked up my 40 lbs of tomatoes for canning and elderberries for jam and peppers for roasting. I'm a bit tired but pleased with the day.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

last day of summer

I've really not prepared for school, the fact is that I am nervous about returning to the rush of keeping to schedules, making lunches, and waking up early. I can't say that we've had the most exciting summer but it's been relaxed, thoughtful and sometimes boring which is what I needed. I realized last night that I had not gotten the a few items needed for school, some required and some more of a ritual. I hatched a plan to get us in to the mood by going to the Ferry Building. The Waldorf school has some rituals of their own that are worthy of an eye roll when I say them out-loud, there is the basket they carry their lunch in filled with healthy food, napkin, and dinner-wear. This said, they are a part of the childrens day, they enjoy their lunch time, eat good food and are a part of the process. Anyway, back to our prep day. The children and I took a nice walk to Glen Park, the little village near our home that has the closest BART station. The children enjoyed going through the turn-style themselves and I was surprised at how much easier it was than earlier trips to the station. We easily exited except for the "flat" Eli gave the heal of Eva's shoe which caused her to lean down and fix the situation so that every person coming off the escalator has to walk over her in order not to run her over. We passed a homeless man asking donations for little flowers he makes out of reeds. The children liked them so I let them run back and put a dollar each in to his jar and they came back with little bouquets, they were so happy they skipped away. We first went to Sur la Table where we looked for a ceramic cup for Eva to leave in the classroom to drink her tea and I thought it'd be nice to have new napkins. The children each picked out two napkins per child. Eli found a nice white cup that was inexpensive, a requirement put forth early, and they chose red and white checked napkins. Eli fell in love with a great potato masher, he was so cute but I was not going to fork over the $15 but told him I'd love it for my birthday. I ended up getting the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market Cook Book which was perfectly matched to what I get in my box seasonally.

After a time watching the lobsters and crabs and debating their inevitable end, we went outside to nibble on some breadsticks and watch the ferries load and depart while we waited for Art. We ended up seeing Jayden from Eli's grade and Nikko from Eva's class with his mom Tony, we had a nice chat in the sun. After a round-about debate on lunch, which lead us from Out the Door, to Mexican finished with us sitting outside at my favorite Vietnamese restaurant the Slanted Door.

Art and I began our meal with a ginger/limeade cocktail - decadent and delicious. Our menu included chick in clay pot, green papaya salad, grilled corn sauteed with mushrooms, and noodles, it was divine. I ran in to a woman from I knew from mommy classes when Eva was a babe who now waited tables there.

We stopped at Rainbow Co-op for water bottles and bamboo-wear (roll eyes!). The day rolled on to bed time with packing lunches, laying out clothes, dinner and bed. Whew. tomorrow is the big day.