Friday, January 29, 2010

Pumpkin photo shoot

At the request of my college friends back East, Sydney + Kara, I got some photos of pumpkin + me, not in action but you'll get the gist. Today, I was riding down Valencia Street on the way to school, the first of the 5 miles, and I heard, " JAN!" and who did I see but my honey waiting for a friend outside of Big Mouth Burger, though I had to remind him we're having hamburgers tonight for dinner. Lucky meeting, as I'd just had a thought as the blue sky was drifting away behind the clouds that I had no rain gear for Eli who is already skeptical of our rides. Art gallantly offered his coat, sweet guy huh? I had him snap the first photo. Later when I got to school I naively offered for Eli to ride with Leon/Naomi thinking he'd not want to but he did, and yes my feelings were hurt. After some back and forth we decided he'd ride part-way to Duboce Street Cafe, we'd meet, have a steamed milk/biscotti treat and then I'd scoop up the little guy. I beat the car by a good 6 minutes probably on the parking curve. Anyway, while enjoying our treat, we thought it'd be fun in the future for Naomi meet me at 15th/Valencia for me to take both boys home on the bike path while she has a student, something to work up to. p.s. the sky was blue the entire ride home though it is storming right now! These photos bring a smile to my face just looking at them, they're a bit ridiculous but boy is it fun! I just had to include the final photo for contrast of my and Eli's face.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A wee space of ones own.

I declared it and got it (see posting for my space, under categories.) Eli wanted one too. Last week he pulled down all his toys from the corner of the dining room, after the little table which he promptly set it up next to the original art table, declaring his own space. Now we all have our own space.

What I learned observing their spaces today:

Eli is learning to whittle, he uses the pencil case, still loves birds, adding beetles and bugs to the list of interest, has a rubber band collection and has quite an eye for finding them all around the city where papers are delivered to homes, he loves his picture drawn for him by the after-school teacher Katherine.

Eva's space is more, of everything. She loves making those little paper hand contraptions that you choose a number or color and lift the flap for a secret, is engaged in her new Charlie Harper coloring book, storing my postcards of the Blue Ridge Mountains, also loves her bug from Pat, decorates her table with a table cloth, of course.

Eli's Viewmaster

There is secret behind this Viewmaster that I'm not willing to divulge but you may look at Neema's blog to guess on your own. I finally gave Eli his belated birthday gift yesterday, as I had the VM but just got discs this week from ebay. As well, I'm hoping that these dips in to popular culture will not make him such a nerd as he's blocked from viewing the moving images for a few more years, Art rolled his eyes and laughed at me at the thought of THIS having any help in that department. Saturday our friend Leon was telling him about Donald Duck and Toy story, well here you go Eli, you now have visuals to go along with the stories.

ps - Love you Neema! It was worth it just so I can think of you every time I see him with it.

first signs of flowers

It's been such a treat to watch as our bulbs bloom. We've seen some casualties of some of the shoots but what a rewarding process. I'm addicted, more bulbs next for us.

busy times around here

Our dining room has been the central dumping ground + major hub of creative energy  = mess, mess on top of mess. I've been avoiding this room for weeks. Today was the day, with me on coffee to boot (Art calls me Jan-squared in this state.) In the four hours I was home I was all over the place, one minute weeding the toy corner, next researching felt to make baskets, photographing the chidren's art tables, sewing kercheifs, making and installing new hangings for Eva's bedroom wall (inspired by Amanda Soule), cleaning off my desk, sewing a holder for Eli's View-master reels, gazing at the snowflake shadows that were visiblein our kitchen on our first day of sunshine, setting up a mushroom still-life with Eva's new beeswax sculpture, sweeping and all while having bursts of new ideas filling my head. It felt good. I'm a little shakey from the coffee this evening but I just love a day like this, and anyone who knows me knows I need these adrenolin rushes to keep me going.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I'm in the mood for Valentine's Day

I pulled out the box of Valentine's decorations today. I love setting up on the mantle the old Valentines cards my maternal grandmother Edna left me, she knew I was the sentimental one in the family. I could not find two post cards from my grandfather Edward Elias to my grandmother. He had to leave Maryland during the Depression and went to work in Idaho on a farm. He sent her a Valentine's card and then posted one the next day, one was not enough. I placed the beautiful cards we made at Susan and Stella's last year below on the hearth, I love seeing the new and old together. Over Christmas, there was yet another opportunity to go through the stuff at my parents house. Each time I go home, I think this it, I'm willing to part with the garage full of items that filled my home as a child. However, each time there is a new opportunity to review the items, and of course one previously overlooked will stand out. This time I could not live without an old vase that used to be stored under the counter of the laundry room where I used to hide and play. It must have come from a Valentine's bouquet sent to my parents long before I was born. It looked so inviting to me on the garage shelf, I just had to stow it in my suitcase.

Friday, January 22, 2010

new game

Eli invented a new game with the pulley. I'm not privy to the rules but he tied it to the trapeze and he stands down the all and launches it back to home base. Eva came home and he was able to fit in to the sequence. Over the course the afernoon there were rules, a system of scoring and loads of laughs.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

beef stew weather

I've never craved beef stew but this weather, week after week of rain-drops dripping down our windows and the back of our necks, has me thinking of nothing else. I picked up some grass-fed beef from Bi-Rite and made the most delicious and new variety of beef stew. I tried the recipe from the The San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market Cookbook , I think I've only made it once and it was a traditional stew made with carrots, beef, potatoes, braised with flour for thickner, you get the picture, like mom made. This particular recipe is beef stew with carrots based on a french version called boeuf aux carrottes, and I chose to serve it over boiled potatoes.

With the oven preheated to 325 degrees, I seasoned the beef with salt and pepper, braised each piece until browned on each side, set it aside. Once the beef is set aside nicely browned, I added a cup of red wine and cooked over medium heat. Now the recipe later asked to add one more cup and reduced to half, I think next time I will reduce the 2 cups of wine at once as we all felt a little drunk after this dinner (the alcohol in the second cup was trapped with the lid on), the children were asleep at 7:15 on the dot! I added 2 bunches of carrots, a quart of homemade chicken broth, a nice strip of orange rind peeled with a peeler, onions, a bouquet of garni (what I had from our C.S.A. - rosemary and sage), put lid on the enameled pot and let cook for an hour and half. It was delicious.

follow-up note: So I started this posting two weeks ago and a note: I asked the chidren last night if they wanted beef stew and they both said NO! maybe not a hit with the under 5 feet set, although their bowls were mighty empty. No wonder I never ask them what they want - they just get what I make.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

just like my 5th birthday....NOT

We were fortunate to attend a fabulous birthday party for a litte friend in Eli's class, Nithan. Nat and Jib, his parents own Corriander, a Thai restaurant in the Bloomingsdale mall. Their business partners and best friends own a chain of amazing restaurants called Osha Thai, where they hosted the party. Let's just say we all went hungary as instructed and were greeted with an endless buffet of the most scrumptious dishes including my favorite pumpkin curry, the best children's magic show I've ever seen and the favorite parents. This was one cozy event on a chilly SF day. Both my children want their next birthday to be at Osha.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Permaculture looming...

I went to a lecture tonight given by a local organization called Kitchen Table Talk on Urban Homesteading. There were some very inspirational speakers that have 3,000 foot gardens in their yard, have lived in a tent in San Francisco for years, capture rainwater, have greywater solutions, or own 2 goats and 6 chicken in the Excelcior District. Alas, it was inspiring but a little overwhelming to imagine taking any of this on. It did get my wheels spinning, allowing myself to dream just exiting the space I thought I want 1) bees 2) a worm bin, not in that order and 3) a nice container garden 4) make yogurt, cheese, and kombucha and finally 5) host more pot-lucks.  I'm frustrated with the limitations the condo situation poses on us but I've been challenged to not be shunned from moving on my own path. What will happen next?

Bike + Byrne

I've always loved the Talking Heads and was so pleased to get up-close-and-personal with David Byrne's Journal. He is so cool, taking his collapsible bike around the world with him on his year-long tour. I think I'm going to have to get his book Bicycle Diaries out of the library, keeps me motivated to get on Pumpkin as much as possible.

Last week I was able to ride her to Golden Gate Park, meet a friend for a walk, spend an hour at the Amish Quilt Exhibit at the de Young Museum, ride to school and home with Eva on the back. I was a bit neurotic taking Pumpkin to the Park as our friends had two bike stollen there on Saturday at the Sciene Museum bike rack. The guard tole them that someone walks up, sprays liquid nitrogen on the lock and ride away minutes later. I took both my locks that came with the bike, one weighing at least 7 lbs. With the locks and 56 lb girl in tow, I got plenty of a workout. Not realizing how exhausted I was when I got home, I promptly fell asleep on the sofa and was in bed for the night at 8:30 p.m.

Monday, January 18, 2010

carefree clothes for Eva

As soon as I'd read about Carefree Clothes for Girls, I put it on my Amazon Wishlist. When I made the big Christmas gift order, I left it on the order as a gift to myself. I love this book translated from Japanese pattern designer, Junko Okawa. Even though the patterns do not go up to Eva's size, I figured, in my naivety that  I could just add a few inches here and there. My hubris served me well for the first attempt, making the adorable apron that is shown on the cover. I used a Japanese fabric I purchased at the Senior Center yard sale. Good thing I got to much of it as I made several mistakes cutting out the pieces but soon enough Eva was sporting the apron that matches the kerchief I made her months ago, from this book also, just in time for lice to hit first grade. Eva is never without her kerchief. 

Sunday, January 17, 2010

hot water bottle addiction

The children go through meloncholic phases that come in cycles and emerge at bed-time, this booboo hurts, my tummy aches, my back is can imagine the contestants on the list of maladies. SOMETIMEs, I do not have the patience to tend to every bump and bruise, especially when they cut in to my evening. I hit on the cure when each child snuggles up to their own hot water bottle. They settle down and are quiet in minutes and off to sleep soon there after. We're in an addictive phase right now.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

my space upgraded

I found at the end of December that our lease on our space was extended and the rent was not going up. You'd have thought I'd been elated to keep the room of my own (+2) but I'd convinced myself that it was not working for me...too far from school, which is true, and mostly it was a pain having to put all of my projects away before leaving, cutting in to my working time which as only an hour often, not to mention the stress thinking I'd left a pin behind on the floor for poor Rowena, a dancer, to step on. Rowena had an idea for us to meet last week and be in the space together. When I arrived, she had coffee in the pot, tasty cheese and crackers and I added a juicy pomelo to the mix and we had honest to goodness girl time.  We sat and just chatted, brainstormed and eventually just did our own thing in the space. Before leaving Ro came up with the BEST idea, she cleaned off a rolling table of Cheryl's, the original inhabitor of the spaces, for me to use as a cutting table. When I arrived on Saturday to work while Art took the children swimming, there the table was rolled over to my corner, it is the perfect solution, demarcating my space while clearing room for Rowena to move. I immediately put some material that I'd got at S.C.R.A.P. around it, hiding all the storage items and went to town's heaven, I cut on the table, use it for ironing and leave my projects out while not there. I go throughout my day now secretly scheming on how I can escape to my space, mid-drive to church, before breakfast...any time I can. .

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Post-church stroll at LandsEnd with hot chocolate

Church had become our Sunday ritual. Having the buddy system helps, Ed (of Row, Julias, Skyla) usually texts Art either Saturday night or Sunday morning. I'm not sure what they say but I imagine something along the line of CHURCH BOUND? with us2 following. The only complaint I have is that it takes over the day with lunch out and before you know it, it's time to head home with restless children to begin our weekly prep. In December we had a great solution, riding out bikes to Boogaloos for breakfast (1 mile) before church. This Sunday we decided to go hiking at Landsend directly after church which was facilitated by the fact they provide sandwiches to honor the volunteers of the Rececession Food Pantry (Art helped out a few times.) One probem, Art did not text Team-Fraunheim before so they turned up with only church clothes. Luckily the archeological layers of coat + hats in my car were enough to go around. It was a nippy, breezy day but the hike is so beautiful you'd never know were still in San Francisco proper. Art + Ed threw a football to quicken the pace, only pauseing above surfers far below the cliffs and to gather fennel seeds to nibble.  The promise of a hot chocolate at Louis' kept the momentum forward. We were hoping for a tradition to emerge, no such luck yet but there's still plenty of time for that.

Monday, January 11, 2010

first eye roll

Sunday we were driving to church and I was being silly and animated, I turned around and Eva have me a good ole fashioned eye roll. I busted her and started laughing. Art asked for a repeat performance and she could not do it. Looks like it's up to me to embarass her enough to get one out of her. I thought we were year away from this reaction from my chilren but alas, we're here already.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

redirecting energies to food - KALE

During the holidays I was too busy sewing, baking, celebrating for cooking. every day I'd kind of moan inside when I realized it was time to come up with another meal. after eating holiday food for a month I've been inspired to get out the cookbooks and fill our bellies with more nutrients and less sugar. my friend Suzanne told me about a recipe for a raw kale salad during our Christmas day hike. she promptly emailed me the recipe, she's so good at this. I had a bag of mixed greens (red russian kale and baby collards).I only had sprouted grain Alvarado bread to make bread crumbs but they were fine (I food-process them and toast in a pan with olive oil until brown). It was incredible, I'm not sure if it was because my body was in kale deprivation or what, but I'm in love with this salad. Eva ate three helpings and asked for me to make it for dinner tonight, so guess what's in the fridge right now, washed and ready? 

Suzanne has used arugala instead of kale, I used feta as we served it with rocatta ravioli. I can just see the possibilities with this salad; served with meat, adding dried fruit and other nuts, maybe a roasted vegetable. 

Kale Salad 

(Recipe was passed on from a mom at school,not sure her source,my apologies for not giving credit.)

1LB dino kale discard stems, cut chiffonade style.
1 cup bread crumbs
3TBS toasted pine nuts
1 cup crumbled feta or ricotta salata

2TBS finely chopped shallot
1 1/2 TBS lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
4 1/2 TBS olive oil

toss all together.

Suzanne has used kale, I used feta as we served it with rocatta ravioli. I can just see the possibilities with this salad; served with meat, adding dried fruit and other nuts, maybe a roasted vegetable. 

Friday, January 08, 2010

Chocolate, Pumpkin, Bi-Rite therapy

Re-entry is always tough for me;I miss the holiday, sort of, I miss the children, really, I miss Virginia, why not, and then I come back sick, ready to clean/unpack alone. After my two-day marathon of house-readiness, really I mean it was not even at a functioning level, I was blue on Friday, not too bad but a fact. Things took a turn for the better when Naomi called and she came over for a quick cup of chocolate. This was not just hot chocolate but the most amazingly, creamy batch of goodness that she gave us for Christmas, Mariebelle from New York. I then hatched a plan all high on caffine that what I needed  was time on Pumpkin, even with a cold. How did I know? It all came together the minute I turned out of the garage on to Randall Street, even as a few rain drops started falling, I could not be stopped. After a nice grocery shop at an uncrowded Bi-Rite grocery, I rode home with contents to make beef stew in tow. Good bye blues.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

new to our shelves

good bye christmas hello "winter"

I was not ready to say good bye to our tree before we left so I was faced with a very crispy specimen to tend with this week. Integrating the new gifts in to our 1400 sq ft apartment is also a challenge that comes post holiday/birthday. Two days later, one tree out the window/on to the curb, ornaments safely in the garage, books on the shelves, we continue our life in 2010.  I always think I'll miss the decorations but the empty spaces left behind always seem soothing to my eye. Ahh now we can think of winter theme and valentines day approaching.