Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Spring Poem

Bright hues of orange and lime, pink and lavender unfurl
against a canvas of fresh white, like the opening young leaves
of the Forsythia outside the window, where I gaze for a moment,
looking up from the methodical, plodding foot of my sewing machine.

The cheep-cheep of the House Sparrow that has taken up residence
under the feeders and who is now peck-pecking at the hearts of Sunflower seeds
fills my thoughts with Springtime and the duplicity of weather that comes with it,
sudden rainstorms; bright moments of sun; still-frosty mornings and warming afternoons.

Sewing brightly-colored, whimsical eggs for Easter for no one but myself,
I am taking pleasure in the quiet time--boy is at school and daughter is dreaming
of the bunnies in the book we read together last night, and for now I hear nothing but
the dip-dip-dip of my needle and the cheep-cheep of the sparrow and I am smiling.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sowing the Seeds of Love

I was excited when a friend on Facebook posted that he had extra Cherokee Purple open-pollinated tomato seeds. He sent me some and James and I started them indoors yesterday.

Last year James and I planted a garden together, and unfortunately there was too much rain for a good crop of anything other than Basil!

We had a great time talking about how things grow, why plants need water and sunlight, and where seeds come from. James asked me why we weren't planting actual tomatoes, instead of seeds. Tee hee!

James had a great time filling the egg carton we used with soil, but the tomato seeds were a little too small for his toddler fingers to get a good grip on. We had about 30 seeds in total, so I am hoping to get at least a few good seedlings from our little science experiment!

Apparently every good gardener must stick out their tongue at the completion of a project!

We found a nice sunny spot that would be safe from Ella and Henry. I just adore the look on James' face in this photo. A little boy, excited for what's to come.

Hmmm . . . I guess since I just started some seeds indoors, and there are Crocuses in bloom and the Forsythia are budding it is time for a new blog header!! Bye bye Winter--Hello Spring!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Sweet as Pie

What more can I say about this adorable pillowcase dress that my friend Flannery made for Ella? SWEET AS PIE!

I'm not sure how I got to be so lucky as to have this talented seamstress living right across the street from me, but boy it makes me smile! She is so talented, and this dress just makes me so happy. The Amy Butler fabric, the beautiful pink ribbon, such a simple idea and yet so exquisitely beautiful!

And Ella? I think she loves it! (But of course she had to pair an accessory with it first).

Want to know more about these whimsical dresses? Visit Flan's recent post at Three Sisterz, a blog that she and her sisters keep about their creative adventures!

Thanks Flannery!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tasty Tuesday

My fellow blogger Jennifer has a wonderful blog called Balancing Beauty & Bedlam. She has a great take on a number of topics that are close to my heart, including cooking, thrifting, balancing family and work and trying to live frugally.

On Tuesdays Jennifer runs a theme called "Tasty Tuesdays." On that day she asks her readers to post links to some of their favorite recipes, or new ones they are trying out or adding into their repertoire. I have found a number of great ideas there, and you may too!

So go visit! In the meantime, I have added my link for MMMMMMmmmm Mushroom and Barley Soup to her page. I thought I would also link to a few of my favorite recipes over the last few years here, too. So enjoy! And get cooking! (Or baking, or what have you.) And hey! Have a Tasty Tuesday!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Few Springtime Thoughts about My Girl

  1. I love that she is wearing hair bows for a little longer before she rips them out to suck on them.
  2. The warmer weather has meant that I get to see and touch more of her baby soft, milky white skin.
  3. She has been wearing dress after dress after dress. I just can't put this girl in a pair of pants (and if I have, you can be sure that I have just about run out of clean dresses!)
  4. She LOVES balloons. What child doesn't right?
  5. Yes, she isn't sitting in a booster. You can't contain her anymore. She is a free spirit during meal times. Grazes, leaves, comes back, grazes some more.
  6. I am in love with her hair. Truly. Curly, wild, crazy, does its own thing and I don't even try to tame it anymore.
  7. You can hear her say "Hi James" and "Hi Daddy" and "I love you" and "good night" clear as day.
  8. Those lips. A perfect bow mouth, my Dad has said. He's right. And boy can they give a good pucker for a kiss!
  9. She can definitely turn on the charm for the camera. She is a flirt, end of story.
  10. Someone in Costco told Chris that she should be the official Costco greeter. Her "hi"s ring out throughout the store, and everyone loves to stop and say hi, and tell her how sweet and friendly she is. I think she thinks that the folks at Costco make up her own personal fan club. I should seriously get her on a parade float so she can make good use of her princess wave.
  11. Make no mistake, for as many sunny moments as she gives us, there is a balance of cranky, screaming, you-will-not-move-me-from-this-spot tantrums. I told Chris that she is full speed ahead at all times, but it may mean full speed happy or full speed cranky. I love them both.
  12. She calls for me in the mornings from her crib "Mommmmeeeeeee." And I lay there and smile, waiting to hear it a few times more just so that it can soak in that I am blessed to have her.

Okay, that's enough sappy-sap about my girl. I'll have to do a similar post about James tomorrow! (I'm off to pick out today's dress!)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Pasta Project

Pasta + food coloring + yarn = hours of fun!

Many thanks to The Artful Parent for the idea!

Place pasta of varying sizes in large Ziploc bags,
add a few drops of food coloring and have your child mush them all around.
Then empty the pasta onto cookie sheets lined with tin foil and let dry overnight.
Next day, let the fun begin!

And here is a fun photo of Ella--she kept busy playing with stickers
while James was stringing pasta necklaces and bracelets with me.

(A note--when placed in the mouth, a food-color-treated pasta will turn
the lips whichever color the pasta happens to be.)

We love to keep busy with arts and crafts--what are or were some
of your favorite crafts to do with your children?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Irish Eyes are Smiling

Whatever Irish I bring to these children (and English and Dutch)
I am sure has been watered down by their Sicilian (and Canadian?) father!
So after all of that, I guess we represent the true melting pot of America.

In any case, on this day we are smiling.
Although we wish Chris was here to celebrate with us.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Such a Simple, Sweet Gift


a Crocus blooms outside our dining room windows

Monday, March 15, 2010

Celebrating St. Paddy's Early with Irish Soda Bread

Every year for St. Paddy's I cook up the traditional Corned Beef and Cabbage meal. We love it so much that we eat nearly all of it and then say, "Why didn't we make twice as much so that we could have leftovers?" Well, since the holiday falls on Wednesday this week, and Chris leaves tomorrow morning for another work trip, we decided to celebrate early, and have the meal tonight. And there are TWO corned beef briskets in the pot this time! (I guess I am the one that will get all of the leftovers!)

Anyhow, I have never made Irish Soda Bread to accompany the meal. I have always wanted to, but for one reason or another I haven't tried it. A friend of mine posted on Facebook that she was making it, and so I decided to give it a try.

I trolled through a number of websites this morning looking for recipes and found that there is a conversation about what constitutes a "real" Irish Soda Bread, which essentially is nothing more than flour, baking soda and buttermilk. The different variations that have come about include egg, currants or raisins, sugar or honey, and a variety of spices. One site I was reading makes the point that in the old days, the bread was made with staples that were always on hand, and didn't include luxurious items, like cinnamon or dried fruit.

Now, while I am usually a stickler for doing things the old-fashioned-way, I actually picked a new-fangled recipe by Ina Garten, from the Food Network website. In addition to the "not-regarded-as-authentic" ingredients like eggs and sugar, hers also includes grated orange peel. You can find her recipe here.

So I made it this afternoon, and the result? Well, since I have never had "authentic" Irish Soda Bread, and thus I don't really know what it is supposed to taste like, I can say this. It is really, REALLY good.

Doesn't it look good? Thanks Ina! Oh, and if I don't get back here before Wednesday, Happy St. Paddy's!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Twinkle Toes

Have I mentioned that I love Ella's little toes?


They are so sweet.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Reclaimed Pine Meets Yankee Craftsmanship

I almost can't breathe when I look at our new (old) dining room table.

Chris and I knew that we wanted an old-looking harvest farm table, and after some searching we found an artist who makes such tables from reclaimed wood. His name is Steve Harris and his website is

Steve finds reclaimed lumber from barns that have been torn down and he planes the wood by hand and assembles these tables. Chris and I and the kids visited his workshop in Bristol, CT a month ago. He showed us different woods and patinas, varnishes and stains, and after much oo-hing and ahh-ing we made a decision on what we would like to have made.

This past Sunday Chris went and picked up the table. The minute I saw it I fell in love. To have such a piece, custom-made, from reclaimed wood, by a local craftsman--it is the perfect trinity.

My favorite details? The hash marks in the first photo, which my Dad tells me is how lumber was numbered in the 1800s when assembling barns and homes; and the butterfly joints, made from cherry.

If you are in New England and you are interested in owning a piece of art and history like we now do, please visit Steve's website. As far as we can tell, you won't be disappointed!

Monday, March 8, 2010

A Moment in the Day

What James is doing:

What Ella is doing:

What I'm doing:

Happy Monday!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

An Evening with Lidia Bastianich & WGBY

Last night Chris and I attended a fundraiser for the local PBS affiliate, with Lidia Bastianich as the guest speaker. Lidia worked with the local chef to create a seven course meal which was paired with 11 wines. The evening was amazing, and the highlight was when we got to sit and speak with Lidia for a few moments.

Chris was clearly star struck. He is 1/2 Sicilian, and Lidia's dishes remind him of the way his grandmother cooked. I sat as close to her as I could, hoping that some of her fairy godmother cooking dust would rub off on me. I am English and Irish, so I need all of the help that I can get!

My favorite dish of the evening was Lamb with Olives from Le Marche, paired with a 2006 Australian Shiraz-Viognier by Domaine Terlato-Chapoutier. The Veal Scalloppine Bolognese from Emilia Romagna paired with Lidia's family wine, Bastianich Vespa Bianco, 2006 was also excellent.

One of the wonderful aspects of the evening was that WGBY asked a local cheese master from the Farmstead at Mine Brook to share some of his products. In a word? FANTASTIC. If you are local, you can find his cheeses at Table & Vine in West Springfield, along with many of the wines that were showcased at the dinner.

Lidia was a wonderful speaker, and I was glad that we could meet her and support WGBY at the same time. We also met a number of wonderful people from the area, including the WGBY Director of Planned Giving, whom we also found out lives right down the street from us! Looks like I will be doing some volunteer work for her in the future, which I am very happy about.

What a fun evening. Great food, great wine, great new friendships. "Tutti a Tavola a Mangiare!"

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Too Darn Cute

James and Garrin on a recent rainy day.

Friday, March 5, 2010

For the Love of Fridays

This is what we wait all week for:

For Daddy to come home, so the laughing can begin!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Love My New Necklace

A gift from my boy. Thanks James. Mommy Loves it!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Ella is 18 Months

Since my girl is headed to her 18 month check up tomorrow, I thought I'd jot down a few thoughts.

I will need to be dragged kicking and screaming towards her 2nd birthday. I am just not ready for it. I love the little girl she is growing into, and I do still have some baby moments with her, but still. I AM NOT READY. (Thus the reason why I still warm her evening milk and hold her like a baby in my arms while she drinks it.)

She is a climber. I remember at James' first birthday party a guest asked my how it was possible that I didn't baby-proof my home. No gates, no padded coffee-table corners, no cabinet locks. We just didn't need them with him. Ella? A whole different story. My house is gated up to the max. Cabinet door locks? I've got 'em. Moved anything breakable out of reach? Yup. Will I have to move her to a toddler bed soon because she can just about climb out of her crib? Yup. She climbs on the table for goodness sake. No booster seats for her anymore. NO WAY.

My girl loves to dance, spin around, stomp her feet, sing, yell and overall make a commotion and have a great time doing it. Into everything, curious about everything, wants to play with anything that is not considered a toy. Plungers, toilet bowl scrubbers, vacuum cleaners, extension cords, mixer attachments, knitting needles, spatulas, remotes, cell phones, the list goes on and on. Toys just don't do it for her. Okay, maybe a ball now and then.

That said, she is SUCH a LADY. She almost always has a necklace on. Seriously. And where did she learn that? She almost always has a dress on, my doing, but that is because since she twirls so much, I need to see those little ballerina legs in action. She loves to brush her hair, coo at her dolls, hug everyone and say "awwww" while she is doing it. And of course, she is a flirt. She'll shoot any man the purtiest little coy smile and then slowly blink those big eyes to say "Yes, I am a looker, and I know it." And who gets that slow blink the most? Her Dad. I can't wait to see Chris in about 13 years. He better start steeling himself now.

And what is she saying? Mommy, Daddy, Ames (for her brother), K-I-T-T-T-Y, Mi-Mi for her Auntie Amy, wow, 'night-'night, uh-oh and hi. I know I will blink and the words coming out of her mouth will be "Can I have the car on Friday night." I am sure her Dad will say yes. Me? I'll just celebrate who she is at 16, and then go to that happy place in my heart where she blinks and says "M-o-m-m-e-e-e-e-e."