December 31, 2009

Mmmm... yum.

Marina's jam bars

My mom used to make these bars filled with black current jam when I was a kid... I probably hadn't had one in about fifteen years - until she surprised me with them the day before yesterday. I may have eaten the entire baking tray's worth in two sittings. But, in my defense, they were really delicious.

December 30, 2009

Our National Marina

Our round of holiday visits continues with a few lovely days with Marina in D.C. We checked out the National Tree and its accoutrements. Lara was particularly excited to see the National Menorah, which of course was not lit anymore. Amusingly the National Tree had suffered the same fate as many local trees - one of the strings of lights on it had shorted out and so a giant swath of branches was dark. We took a picture on the other side:

Then, the obligatory Cheesecake Factory pilgrimage, where my mom busted out long dormant artistic skills:

She then drew a Jakey to go along with it!

December 28, 2009

The Last of the Hanukkahs...

...for this year, at least! We had a lovely day at Dadie and Norman's.

Oh, and also, we decided to start this one early on the Texas Hold 'Em.

December 27, 2009

Gift Wrap & Clues 09

Hanukkah 09 - gift wrap

This year, my habit of saving all the tissue paper and ribbons from presents I get and the things I've bought really paid off in fun wrapping for the many books we got as presents for the large annual Hanukkah party!

The clues were yet again awesome (if I do say so myself) - each was a riddle that clued one word from the title (or the author) of the book. Play along if you'd like (the answers are at the bottom):

My first part is what a snake may shout
My last part is neither lager nor stout
Put them together to make how a ship gets about

My first part is a God of War
My second part is a toddler
My last is Lara’s favorite letter
Put them together to make a philosopher

My first part can go through a canal
My last part is an Australian pal
Put them together to make the people
Who boarded the Mayflower from the same rationale

My first part is the flatware whence food steams
My last part is when an infection pours out of the seams
Put them together to make one of the five extant monotremes

My first part is brought to a picnic
My last part is where Cinderella watches the clock tick
Put them together to make a sport played with no stick

My first part is why people oft give public speaking a pass
My last part is how the optimist views half a glass
Put them together to make an emotion we’d all like to surpass

My first part is what the Red sympathizers were called by the McCarthy committee
My last part is the third person feminine possessive pronoun (meaning “belongs to she”)
Put them together to make the Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University

My first part is a stomach sculpted by Bow-Flex
My middle part is red wine on white carpets’ effects
My last part is hard working insects
Put them together to make the safest sex

My first part is the cost of stuff that shoplifters took
My middle part is another word for a criminal or crook
My last part is the medium about superheroes with a unique look
Put them together to make the title of this fascinating book

My first part is the grade you get for a 66 due to your “quick wit”
My last part is what people dream of having in white picket
Put them together to make who stops you on 3rd down to kick it

My first part is how a Jamaican ends every phrase-y
My last part is when you’re trapped inside, how you go crazy
Put them together to make a creature that makes your hair raise-y

My first part is what a snake may roar
My middle part is another word for a building floor
My last part is the letter that M comes before
Put them together to make a person who chronicles events of yore.

My first part is the top of the iceberg that shows
My last part is the noise a sonar uses to expose
Put them together to get what a penurious restaurant diner forgoes


My first part is what the line before “Total” on a restaurant check allows
My last part is the noise that a sonar makes while it’s set on browse
Put them together to make what hicks do to cows


1) Sail = S + Ale
(Billy Collins – Sailing Alone Around the Room)

2) Aristotle = Ares + Tot + L
(Cathcart & Klein – Aristotle and an Aardvark go to Washington)

3) Shipmates = Ship + Mate
(Sarah Vowell – The Wordy Shipmates)

4) Platypus = Plate + Pus
(Cathcart & Klein – Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar)

5) Basketball = Basket + Ball
(Bill Simmons – The Book of Basketball)

6) Fearful = Fear + Full
(Audrey Niffenegger – Her Fearful Symmetry)

7) Pinker = Pink + Her
(Stephen Pinker – The Stuff of Thought)

8) Abstinence = Abs + Stain + Ants
(Tom Perrotta – The Abstinence Teacher)

9) Freakonomics = Free + Con + Comics
(Levitt & Dubner – Freakonomics)

10) Defense = D + Fence
(Michael Pollan – In Defense of Food)

11) Monster = Mon + Stir
(Austen & Winters – Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters)

12) Historian = Hiss + Story + N
(Kostova – The Historian)

13) Tipping = Tip + Ping
(Gladwell – The Tipping Point)

December 24, 2009

Pom-pom wreath

Wreath with blue pom poms

You know what sticks really well to pine fronds? Felty fuzzy pom poms. I just mushed these onto the needles and they self-attached without any kind of glue or anything. This, plus a bunch of fairy lights, is our newest seasonal decor. I'm pretty psyched that I've kept it up so far!

December 23, 2009

Chrismukkah Fun

Aric, Sandie, and Lexi were here tonight, and fun was had by all! (Much chocolate was had by all as well - which, well, par for the course around the holidays, I think.)

Can't wait to visit the farm, guys!

December 21, 2009

Urban Snow Fun

So did you guys hear about the crazy snow fall here? Two feet, baby! That's more snow than Lara has ever seen, since the last few winters have been really mild.

We busted out the snow pants.

She was unextractable.

Oh, and Jakey turned seven months old today! He's looking more and more ready to crawl every day - yikes!

December 13, 2009


Little Kitchen - Kirsty

An adorable Little Kitchen by Kirsty - I'm really into the matching checks on the backsplash and the curtain!

December 12, 2009

First Morning of Hanukkah

breakfast - popovers with berry reduction

I decided to make some some muffin-baked popovers (using Martha's recipe, plus 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla), and then realized that we had no jam! Which - you really can't eat popovers without some kind of sugary fruit thing. So I made a quick berry reduction (half a bag of frozen berries, two cups water, 10-ish tablespoons of sugar, simmer and stir until at least half of the water has boiled off). Really good stuff - wish I could have recorded the collective mmmmmmm's of my family!

December 8, 2009

Hanukkah Decor is Up!

Hanukkah - Advent Streamers w/ Gelt Envelopes

This year's Festival of Lights comes early - this Friday - but we are ready with this recycled advent-style decoration. I scoured magazines and catalogs for blue and white/off-white pages and cut out numbers, rectangles, and six-sided stars (a special shout-out is owed to Brooks Brothers and their uber-conservative shirt stylings). Then, each of the eight streamers got a craft-paper envelope into which I tucked a piece of chocolate gelt and a small clue that reveals the location of a present hidden somewhere in the house (nothing too crazy - "look under the couch"). The first present will be the dreidel game, able to actually be played for the first time this year!

December 7, 2009

Great Weekend...

...with some cute kids.

(Thanks to Mr. Forty-two Roads for these great shots!)

December 6, 2009

Lara's Artwork

Hi blog-world and its various denizens and passers-by.
Lara was in a very patient, intense, concentratory mood this morning, so we drew some pictures. Here's her dinosaur masterpiece (signed by the artist).

Only a few more weeks until she opens her own Etsy shop!

December 4, 2009

A Matched Set

Matched set of Lara and Jakey

More Hanukkah giftie goodness - this time, a matched set of Lara and Jakey oil stencils for my mom and dad (sorry for ruining the surprise, guys!).

I have to tell you - fun as these are to make, as I dripped oils left and right on the floor while painting these I started to really yearn for a studio space! As it is? We're just going to have to live with some unsightly rug stains (sorry, Mr. Forty-two roads!).

December 1, 2009


The more I cook, the more I have learned not to trust my own instinct for how much spice to add to food. Since I always, invariably, err on the side of far too little, my time in the kitchen is mostly spent in overcoming the fear of throwing yet more cayenne into the pot. Intellect over gut, if you will. The endless subduing of the id by the ego.

dinner - falafel (cooking)

All of which is to say - man, I made some really spicy falafel and curried cauliflower for dinner last night!

dinner - falafel with curried cauliflower

The cauliflower went with some faux-sotto made out of barley - and now that I think about it, I guess I should really call it faux-lafel as well, since I neither deep-fried it, nor had any tahini sauce to go with it. Still, delicious.