November 30, 2009

Good Times, or Our Thanksgiving Was Awesome

The day before, we modeled the latest in nonchalant street fashion while checking out the Macy's parade balloons being inflated.

"Why does it take so long?" asked an at first excited but then increasingly impatient Lara.

The next day, we made our way to the back of the float line-up, aka the loosey-goosey no-rules sure-kid-go-ahead-and-climb-up-on-this-thing section of the otherwise very strict parade. Care bears? Check.

Delta's homage to Central Park? Check.

What's left of the Smurf village after Gargamel and Azriel get their hands on it? Check.

A lot of height is required for ideal parade watching condition. Daddy's shoulders are pretty good...

... but way up on top of a jagged rock is better.

Afterwards, we had energy to spare, but we did see these three tired bears.

November 27, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you enjoyed the food! Here are some of my recent culinary adventures, photographed surreptitiously by the lovely Mr. Forty-two Roads who knew that I would most likely forget to:

Mini chocolate molten cakes

Mini mock-souffles with molten chocolate inside. These were amazing, I have to say. I used this recipe, but with dark chocolate instead of white (because white chocolate? Ugh. Yuck.)

Curry chicken and rainbow chard

Lemon-curry-ginger chicken and braised rainbow chard. This tasted great too - except we learned the hard way that the broiler in our over is... how shall I put this... not good. The skin did come out nice and crispy, though. Oh well, next time I'll just roast them instead.

November 25, 2009


Two copies of my dissertation, ready to be handed to my committee. I have written a ream of paper. Feels good to see it all in one ginormous pile like that!

November 24, 2009

One for the Bad Parenting Files

We missed Jakey's six month birthday! It was a few days ago, on the 21st. I guess this will be the first thing he tells his therapist about...

Jakey at six months continues to wow us with his sunny, happy disposition, and his general delight at whatever he comes across. He loves chewing on anything he can get his chubby fingers on, and is also now enjoying his recent introduction to people food. Feats of strength include a vice-like grip, escaping even the most tightly wrapped swaddle, and getting up on all fours to "motorcycle" in place. We love you, little baby guy!

November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving Decorations

Over the weekend we put up a new display to mark the next holiday.

In school, Lara made these amazing owls and turkeys, and we walked around all weekend collecting good, straight sticks to make frames for them:

Thanksgiving 09 - birds in stick frames

The frames are just tied at the joints with baker's twine. Some of the stick leftovers and a few really bright leaves Lara picked up were wrapped around the vase (and we still need to find something fall-ish to put in it). Here is a vase close-up:

Thanksgiving 09 - vase

I love that this display is not really Thanksgiving-specific, but more just about the season. It can thus stay up until we get our Hanukkah stuff together for next month. Also I love how invested Lara gets in these things now - it's definitely a collaborative project, even if I supply many of the ideas. See, indoctrination does work!

November 20, 2009

Tis soon the season...

A few sparklies for future presents:

earrings - pearls, red, black metal

White and yellow pearls, coral, black metal twists.

necklace - long chain dangle

Coral, turqoise, silver chain, found objects.

necklace - semicircle with turquoise, blue, red

metal seed beads, found silver semicircle, turquoise, blue pearls, red bead.

November 19, 2009

Lara's Mr. Men

You guys know that series of books, right? We have Mr. Tickle at home in book form and Mr. Bump in bandaid form, and I think they have some at school too - and Lara is mildly obsessed with all of them. Recently she drew a bunch of them, and I wanted to share (after scanning in the original guys and insetting them in the drawings to show what she was copying.):

Mr. Men - Mr. Grumpy

I love Mr. Grumpy's tiny green hat.

Mr. Men - Mr. Clumsy

Mr. Men - Mr. Tickle

I love that Mr. Tickle's smile got turned into a frown. I'm thinking Lara is projecting her own feelings about being needlessly tickled there.

November 16, 2009

Jakey Cuteness

Our tiny boy is doing all sorts of new things! I need to get his babbling on video too - we're getting "gaga" "dada" "vava" and all those great sounds now!

November 15, 2009

Fishcakes... know, like crabcakes, but with fish (cod, as it happens).

cod fishcakes with seared tomatoes

These were a little involved, but really fun to make, and they came out delicious. I followed Martha's recipe, but left out the scallions and lemon juice (since I didn't have them on hand). But I did get to use my new hot sauce! Also, I used matzo to make the breadcrumbs, which worked out just fine. I have a sense you could also use flour or even cornmeal instead.

November 14, 2009


That was the sound I made as I rubbed my eye with hands that has just been cleaning and chopping a chili pepper. Yes, I know, I will try to remember in the future. On the plus side, though - I finally figured out what to do with the hot little things we get from the farmer every now and again: make hot sauce!

condiment - chili pepper hot sauce

I followed this recipe, minus the cold water and the flour, and using much less of the hot water. It tastes great, and is not so spicy that it's inedible. I've already used it to make something super-awesome! Stay tuned.

November 13, 2009

Pumpkin Corn Bread

I used this recipe to make this pumpkin corn bread (without the craisins because Lara is one of those "don't mix my food with other food" eaters).

pumpkin corn bread

It's awesome, except next time I'll double the butter in the recipe... what can I say, I like my quick-breads gooey.

November 12, 2009

Sir Drools-A-Lot

Among many delightful things, Jakey is also quite the drooler. I would say "maybe he is teething" - actually, I guess I do frequently say that - but it's been almost six months of drool and no teeth. In fact, the only thing he has to show for it is irritated skin, which is now being made much better with the application of these:

colorful drool bibs for Jakey

A few quickly whipped up bibs. Soft fleece on top, soft jersey on the back, cannibalized tshirt pieces for the ties. I kept waiting for Lara to recognize the fleece fabric and say, "Hey, those are my pants!" like she does with most other things that have been repurposed for Jake, but she seems to be over them.

November 10, 2009

Lara says "Thank You"

Thank You Card by Lara

Lara drew all the letters, the happy whale face, and the little flower. I helped a little bit by assembling her writing and drawings into a card shape. This was a great two-birds-with-one-stone: she really got a kick out of seeing how the card came out, and I got to send out really cute handmade thank-you cards for all the birthday loot and plunder!

November 9, 2009

The Birthday Book

Another birthday, another birthday book... I present "Lara's Grand Birthday Adventure."


On a sunny day, Lara was walking through the forest when she heard the burbling sounds of running water.

“What a nice, cool stream!” she said, “I think I’ll fill up my cup so I can have something to drink later.”


In a little while, she saw a large, dark cave and came closer to take a good look.

A small dragon hopped out of the cave, coughed, and opened his mouth. Suddenly, a huge stream of fire and smoke poured out around Lara. A little scared, she jumped back behind a tree and watched the dragon cough out some more smoke.

She realized that he didn’t seem very angry, and she had an idea.


“Would you like something to drink? You are coughing a lot, and I have a cup full of cool water,” Lara asked.

“Oh, thank you! My throat was so very sore!” he said with a hoarse voice. “Thank you for not being afraid of me. I really can’t help breathing fire!”

“I’m just glad you’re feeling better,” Lara answered.

“I wish I had something to give you in return.” The dragon thought for a minute, then reached back and
plucked something off of his tail. “Here,” he said, “take one of my scales. It’s not much, but it is extra shiny
since I cleaned it just this morning.”

The red dragon scale was warm and reflected the sun. Lara smiled, waved good-bye, and walked on.


Soon, she reached a dock that stretched into the ocean. Floating in the waves was a ship with a black pirate sail. On its deck Lara saw a boy who looked quite sad.

“What’s wrong?” Lara asked. “You seem very sad for a pirate.”

“If only I were a real pirate,” the boy sighed. “I think I have everything I need to be one – a ship, a sharp sword, this red bandanna. But the other pirates just laugh at me.” The boy waved his sword at her. “You better not laugh at me too!” He yelled angrily.

Lara looked carefully, and noticed that he really was missing a piece of pirate gear.


“Hey, I have an idea,” Lara said, breaking the dragon scale in half. “Let me climb aboard and help you.”

She tied a string to edges of the scale and put it on the boy’s face as a particularly fearsome eye patch. “Now you really look like a scary pirate!”

The boy looked at his reflection in the water and smiled happily. “Thank you so much for your help! I don’t know what to give you in return. How about a ride on my boat – and this sword?”

The sword’s sharp edge gleamed and the handle was just the right size for Lara’s hand.


In a little while, Lara heard scared cries coming from the water. Sword in hand, she smiled, waved good-bye to the pirate, and dove into the deep ocean. The cries got louder and louder, and finally she saw a mermaid struggling against a dense patch of seaweed.

“Please help me! I was trying to harvest these plants for a mermaid salad, but instead got stuck!” The mermaid pulled her arms again with no avail. “If only there were some better way to pick seaweed,” she sighed.

Holding her breath, Lara swam as fast as she could toward the mermaid, knowing just what she should do.


Swinging the sword from side to side, Lara chopped up the dense plants. “Oh, how wonderful!” The mermaid exclaimed, “These tiny seaweed pieces are perfect for my salad. You’ve saved me a lot of work!”

“Here, you should take this sword,” Lara said. “That way, you won’t get stuck the next time you feel like eating some greens!” The mermaid laughed. “Wait till the other merfolk hear about you! But I should give you something in return – how about this pearl?”

The pearl was smooth and pale in the greenish water. Hugging it to her chest, Lara smiled, waved good-bye, and swam away.


Swimming to the surface, Lara saw an island with a tall palm tree. Lara pushed her giant pearl onto the sandy beach and noticed a fairy hovering in the air above a large bubbling cauldron.

Lara watched the pot send up wisps of smoke and pink sparks. The fairy’s wings beat very fast, and she frowned in frustration.

“What’s wrong?” Lara asked.

“Oh, this whole thing is ruined,” the fairy sniffled. “I was trying to make a magic potion, but I forgot the
most important ingredient. I just need to add something from the ocean floor!”

Lara picked up her pearl, smiled, and gently lowered it into the cauldron.


The brew began to froth and sizzle as streams of swirling rainbow sparkles shot high up into the air.

“What is it doing?” Lara asked the fairy.

“You made the potion, so the magic will be for you!” the fairy answered.


And the next thing Lara saw was an enormous chocolate vanilla birthday cake with four candles, and all the new friends that she had made on her adventure.

“Happy Birrrrthday!” roared the dragon.

“Aye, make a wish!” yelled the pirate.

“Oh, and don’t forget to blow out the candles!” sang out the mermaid.

“I hope you like pink icing,” whispered the fairy.

Lara laughed. Pink icing was her favorite.


It was so much fun to make it! We came up with the story together, then Misha drew the illustrations, I scanned them in and colored them, and wrote out the text. Then we published it through Lulu press (and if you feel like getting yourself a copy, they are available at the forty-two roads storefront).

Lara amusingly loves it and can't quite decide which pronoun is right to use when referring to the heroine ("the pirate said to her... to me... to Lara!"). She also had two great editorial comments: 1) "No, my favorite is white icing, not pink," and 2) "Hey, I don't see the pirate's reflection in the picture in the book!" Ah, that's my literary critic daughter...

November 8, 2009

And now she is 4

Lara turned 4 on Saturday and we had a blowout in her honor. Here she is in the first of the day's three outfits, most revolving around this fairy dress that was thematically repurposed to fit with the party's theme: Princesses and Pirates.

I assembled four random images found through Google into this invitation graphic...

...which I also blew up to be a face-in-the-hole photo op thing. Gus and Lara demonstrate the awesomeness:

Pirate hats and princess crowns for one and all!

Jakey reminisces about pirate days gone by:

The balloons started as decorations on the wall, but were quickly cannibalized into a super fun stampede-cum-dance:

Juliet rocks all the available the accessories:

Here, the gaggle of children fresh from the balloon madness are calmed by the pull-string pinata. I love that they were raising their hands for turns! I filled the pinata with gold- and silver-foiled candy, some pieces of eight, and bejeweled rings.... a theme that was pretty much only picked up on by my friend Sheri (and thus was worth it!).

I also used the invitation images to decorate the cupcakes (by printing out the pictures and gluing them onto toothpicks). Lara was totally overwhelmed when everyone was singing "Happy Birthday" - look at this face:

And here, a cupcake closeup:

Ah, what a totally wonderful, exhausting, somewhat dreamlike day! I still can't quite believe we have a four year-old... but I know that every day she is a exhilarating, baffling, joyful, awe-inspiring, maddening, terribly beloved creature. Happy Birthday, little girl!

November 5, 2009

Plum Crisp

Plum Crisp

Easy to make, yummy, and looks great - what more could you ask for in a dessert? I just caught on to this whole crisp idea this winter - I never actually realized that the topping is not a dough before (was I maybe confusing this with a crumble?). I made an apple crisp a few weeks ago, after our apple-picking trip to the farm; and today I made this one with plums. I used a combination of a few of Martha Stewart's crisp recipes to arrive at this:


- 5-6 medium plums, pitted and sliced into eighths or even tenths
- 3/4 cup flour + 1 tablespoon flour
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 rolled oats
- 8 tablespoons butter (1 stick)

- preheat oven to 375, and grease a casserole dish
- mix together 1 cup flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and oats
- cut butter into little pieces and add to dry ingredient mixture; stir until clumpy
- mix together plums, white sugar, and 1 tablespoon flour
- put plum mixture into the greased casserole dish and spread into an even layer
- pour butter mixture on top of plums and spread evenly
- bake for 35-45 minutes, until the top is browned and crisp, and the plum juice is bubbling
- let cool for 20 minutes before eating