May 31, 2007


Say what you will about her parents, but Lara certainly won the hair lottery. This is how she wakes up in the morning. Seriously, how much would you pay if a salon could actually make this happen for you?

may 31 - 1

may 31 - 2

Oh, and by the way - the ticket for that hair lottery? Must have come from some other gene pool, because no one in our families has anything remotely like this on their head.

May 30, 2007

Vegetable Soup

What a very creative title.

Misha and I have a new thing. We decided that at least once a month we have to prepare a new recipe or try a new food. Once a week would be too daunting, timewise - but once a month seems quite manageable. So far this has yielded April's Brie-covered baked salmon (yummy!) and then this:

Vegetable soup

May's vegetable soup. Now, truth be told, this is a soup I've eaten all my life. Both of my grandmothers have always made it, and it was the simplest in a vast array of soups that were rotated as the first course. You see, I grew up eating several courses for each meal: first soup, then entree, then more entree, then three or four more entrees, and then dessert. To this day, when I've told one of my grandmothers that all I had for lunch was a sandwich, she asks in dismay, "but what about the hot course?" Sadly, the hot course has until now been a grandma-visit delicacy. But really, who knew how easy this soup actually is?

Chop up 2-3 large carrots, 1 zucchini, 1 onion, and half a head of cabbage; put it in a large pot of water and cook 10-15 minutes. Then add 3-4 diced potatoes, 1 cup of rice (or shell pasta), 2-3 teaspoons of olive oil, a pinch or two of salt; cook for another 10-15 minutes. Now add half a head of chopped cauliflower and a can of white kidney beans; cook another 10-15 minutes. And done! I like it with a dollop of sour cream. Every other member of my family prefers fresh parsley and dill sprinkled on top.

Next month, spinach borscht! Maybe. I have to get a little more brave.

May 29, 2007


may 29 - 3

Lara is right now in an amazing period of language acquisition - almost two words a day, every day, are passing from her passive recognition language into active use. Watching her grow has always been a delight, but before this last month her development has been something a little bit "other" for me since the things she learned were only stepping stones towards learning the things she would use all her life. For instance, crawling was a thrilling (in both senses of the word!) milestone, but it didn't feel as though she were actually becoming one of us - you know, us humans - until now. Then she started mimicking our speech and our movements, and now... Now she is actually learning to play and pretend. Is it cliched to think one's child miraculous?

She is catching on to back-and-forth style games - giving chase, hide and seek - and is also starting to apply her knowledge of her own world to her toys. Her favorite mealtime game is to put her toy policeman to sleep. She puts him on his back, looks at me, and says, "sshhhhhh." Yesterday at dinner she picked up her spoon and fed her fireman doll, shoving avocadoes at his face, laughing, and then putting him down to sleep.

Also, perhaps not as significantly, we are experimenting with a new hairstyle. I'm loving it!

may 29 - 2 may 29 - 1

May 28, 2007

Anniversary Weekend

Misha and I married on May 22nd, 2004, but it's funny for me to think that this year marked our third anniversary considering the fact that we have actually been together for almost 11 years. I knew him pre-goatee, pre-drinking age (hmm... but certainly not pre-drinking), pre-adulthood. And now I know him as a father, a husband, and a doctor. He is a wonderful man and I smile every single morning to see him on the next pillow over.

We spent the weekend in New York, celebrating our wedding anniversary for the first time (1st anniversary - pregnant, 2nd anniversary - tiny baby, 3rd time's the charm!) while Lara's grandparents had a lovely time entertaining their granddaughter.
We went to the movies, walked around Soho, and the next morning hung out in the little park around the Museum of Natural History taking arty pictures of ourselves.

may 27 - 5

may 27 - 2

may 27 - 3

And then a lovely brunch at Isabella's. My food was hearty, but Misha's food was just beautiful.

may 27 - 1

May 25, 2007

Conserving Nature

Lara's great-grandparents recently took her to the Central Park Zoo for the first time. It's a very sentimental place for them, and to commemorate the fun they got a Nature Conservancy tshirt. However, the smallest size tee the Zoo had was adult medium (I know! Only kids go there!). So, a tee to a dress, using some leftovers from a pair of little overalls:

Nature Conservancy Tee Dress (front)

The back, with a side of ham:

Nature Conservancy Tee Dress (back) may 25 - 2

Edited to add: The funniest thing about that "back" photo is that Lara is pushing a stroller she promptly stole from some other kid upon arrival to the playground. In the background? The toy stroller she came with, desperately wanted before we left, and instantly abandoned once we got there.

Sadly, while we were having a fun photo shoot in the park, Misha was home nursing the second day of a crazy fever. So sad! Look at him all curled up, making a pouty face. I think it'll bring it home to mention that it is 90 degrees outside today and he was under this down comforter with the AC off, still racked with chills.

may 25 - 1

May 24, 2007

Lara of the Day

Lara is very cute. I've decided to celebrate this fact with some pictures of her on the days when I don't have a craft to put up. Plus, it's a very nice way to try to remember what each day held for us. Otherwise, they tend to just vanish into the ether of memory or the monotony of routine. I am very inspired by the daily life blogging of the beautiful family at Luckybeans. Of course, they are in extraordinarily photogenic Zambia, and we are in only moderately photogenic Philadelphia - but still.

Today's adventures:

New firetruck

may 24 - 2

Lara thought the firemen should go for a ride!
may 24 - 3

And then she curled up into an egg pose
may 24 - 1

Also, I made two photomontages of her newly decorated room. Check them out here and here. Don't forget to mouse over the pics for comments!

May 23, 2007

Puffy Sleeves

Some more refashions for Lara:

Lara refashions - puff sleeve tee and striped shorts

1) Striped overalls from 9 months made into shorts. I really really loved the green, yellow, and grey stripes on this fabric - it's just beautiful. The original overalls were from Janie and Jack, which is a ridiculously expensive but unbelievably adorable store. I'm so glad they are getting a little more life. Now I just have to to figure out what to do with the straps!

2) Lara got a tee as a present recently that had a cute rose pattern and amazingly fit right! (Seriously, she's in the 50% percentile for her measurement so clothes should fit her exactly as marked - what gives, clothing companies?) But - a big but - the shirt had sleeves made out of pink mesh. Is it just me, or is an 18 month old maybe slightly too young to sport video vixen fashion? Anyway, I made new sleeves out of an old tee - and in the process learned to make puffy sleeves!

Puff sleeve detail

May 19, 2007

I'm Pockets

Two stories.

One. A couple of years ago we owned The Perfect Bag. It was a square, brown, shoulder strap bag from EMS that was the exact right size for carrying what two minimalist packers might need for a day out. When we brought it to Italy, it was all we needed for a day's worth of culture absorption and aimless strolling. The clincher was that it was completely unisex - a must in our household because I really, really hate carrying bags. I've never had a daily pocketbook or purse, or even wallet; honestly, I just stuff a few credit cards, keys, and cell phone into pants pockets and go. For the times when a bag was needed, Misha could carry this one without needing to explain that it was European. So what happened? Someone (read: me) lost the bag. I have no idea where, but I know for certain that it was me. First I spilled bleach on it, then I lost it, and now EMS no longer makes it.

Two. Misha loves cargo pants. Let me rephrase that - Misha loves cargo. When I first met him in college, he was obsessed with the safari-photographer-style vest that Banana Republic used to carry (you know, back when that store's name had some kind of relevance to the products they carried). I steadfastly held out against the vest, and so when cargo pants suddenly became cool, he was in pocket heaven (this might have had something to do with my aversion to carrying stuff. See above). I like the look, but have to admit that the allure of having some object bang against your leg repeatedly as you walk escapes me. In any case, whenever he put on a particular favorite dark blue pair, he would announce, "I'm Pockets," and would load himself with all my stuff. Sadly, those pants went the way of all flesh and were relegated to my refashioning pile.

But happily, they have turned into this: my very first bag ever. It's not even close to The Perfect Bag, nor even to a perfect bag. But still, it works, it's got metal thingies holding the straps on, and from now on, it's Pockets.

"I'm Pockets" bag

Bag detail - straps

Bag detail - square bottom

My Mother's Day

For my 2nd official Mother's Day, my beautiful family gave me:

- a gormet breakfast (Misha woke up an hour before me to slavishly make a green pepper omelet, blueberry pancakes, sausage, bagels and lox, berries covered in whipped cream, and tea - I really I wish I had a picture!)

- an amazing painting by a budding young artist

Lara's Mother's Day artwork

- and perfectly horticultured flowers

Flower by Misha when he was 4 Mother's Day Rose

(Misha found one he had drawn when he was four years old - can you see that little "Misha '83" note?)

May 11, 2007

The Distance Between Us

For Mother's Day, my mom is moving to Moscow. Seriously, she's actually flying tomorrow. I thought she was far away when she was in Germany, but this is really getting ridiculous. It's heartbreaking for me to think about Lara growing up so far away from her - and so far away from all relatives in general. I grew up in the exact opposite way, in the same house as my grandparents and great-grandmother. My earliest childhood memories are of my great-grandmother reading me books in the morning and then making me cream of wheat. Anyway. My mom is really far away. I mean, what do you do with a time difference of eight hours?

Well, for a start you paint her this for Mother's Day, entitled "The Distance Between Us". Happy Mother's Day, mommy!

Distance Between Us

Some details of what's happening in the ocean: a flying bicycle and toothy fish.

Distance Between Us - Flying Bicycle Distance Between Us - Toothy Fish

And to explain the title, the labels on the map:

'Distance 'Distance

May 9, 2007

Birds Little Houses

I've been really loving the motif of little square houses. You know, the kind children first learn to draw - a square topped by a triangle. There is something so very safe and familiar about this shape to me - simple without exactly being primitive.

Mother's Day Card 2

I'm also trying to get away from literalism in my collages. I have trouble realizing that if you are trying to cut out a tree then you don't actually have to find something that looks like bark and something that looks like branches. It's enough for the shapes to denote the objects.

Mother's Day Card 1

Then again, flowers are pretty. Also, it's fun to keep some newsprint around for a while as it yellows quickly and quite nicely. I should get some foreign-language newspapers for this - it would even better if the text were not immediately obvious.

Mother's Day Card 3

I can't believe I didn't realize until I actually composed this post that common image in these cards is birds. I guess I like not just square houses but birds also... Duly noted in the post title.

May 8, 2007


Maybe it's best if I just ignore the long post gap.

Here is an oil painting of Lara for mother's day, for my mother-in-law. Nancy, if you're reading, pretend to be surprised in a few weeks!

Lara stencil in oils

I painted this 9x12 canvas board entirely with a palette knife, which is a really fun tool for creating texture. Very freeing, especially for someone like me who usually cannot seem to get away from perfectionist impulses in my brushwork. The stencil was made out of freezer paper, which has a waxed side that was just tacky enough to stick a little to the blue layer of oils (which was already dry). I basically winged this whole technique so I'm pretty excited that it turned out so well.

Coming in the next few days more mother's day things, including a present for my actual mom (I'm still finishing it up)!