January 31, 2011

World of Snowcraft

Hi all.
Anna has clearly re-discovered the creative spirit; motivated by you guys (thanks), she's posting up a storm. Speaking of storms, it's been literally one after another here in Philly. (Aside: Anna and I had an uneducated debate about whether this counts as a sign of global warming, or a random variance blip; I'm going with random variance blip - Anna countered with "global warming means more evaporation, so more moisture in the air, so more precipitation." That's some hard-to-refuse pseudoscience hand-waving. (Note: this is not a political blog, and I won't hijack it, but there is no actual debate here about global warming - it's pretty clear.))

Now, back to storms - it's been so snowy! I was talking to some people at work, and said that I remember being a kid, and just hoping and praying for a snow day, and not having to go to school. And then I remember being older, and having to go do things regardless, and really hoping for no snow. And now, things cycled back again - the kids really like the snow, and it's so much fun to play with them!

On Sunday, Anna was away, and I was left alone manning the fort. And what a fort!

This is step 2. Step 1 was convincing Lara that a snow fort would be fun to build (she has a natural tendency to "con" just about anything new. She gets that from somewhere, I guess. Ahem. Moving on.) Actually, step 1 was convincing Lara, and step 1.5 was finding something Jakey liked better than breaking the in-progress snow fort. He loved breaking the walls. "Sow-baaahl!" as he lifted brick after brick of snow and flopped it on the ground with glee.

Yeah, so we made that awesome snow fort - but then Jakey wanted to go in! ("Indaaaah" - aka, 'in there,' chanted regularly, until I acquiesced and dumped him in with his sister... note the joy on Lara's face. Joy, I tell you.)

This is NYC-style - 2 people in a 3x3 foot space. These two clearly grew up in Philly, and couldn't hack the close quarters. "Daddy, Jakey's pushing me!" "Nopush Nopush!" And neither would tolerate being removed from the frosty studio.

So, we smashed down a wall and expanded into a duplex - and this time, everyone helped!

Finally, Lara's glove fell off, and she got snow in her arm, and inconsolable crankiness ensued. From her, at being wet and cold, and from Jakey, at being forced to leave the snow. I promised them food at home; as a sign of what "daddytime" means, the minute I said "Let's go home and get food," Jakey said "No pipa! No pipa! que-deeah!" meaning he not only knew that "food with Daddy = pizza," he decided he didn't want that and requested a quesedilla.

So not only did we indulge that request, but then Lara and I whipped up these fantabulous chocolate chip cookies! (no recipe included: this is Daddy-style blogging)

One of the best things about these cookies? Totally awesome, but too hard for Lara and Anna to eat, and Jakey doesn't know they're there... thus, more for me.

And so everyone had a happy snow day!

(Also, my own Jakey language addendum - Anna's blog post-with-video is awesome and totally captures his budding little language, but one of the funniest things is him using his 2- and 3-word phrases to make sentences. One morning last week, he woke up at around 5, and so I took him downstairs to watch Sesame Street, which in Jakey-tongue is "watchy-ehmo" (watch-y elmo). So I fell asleep, and then I woke up to getting whacked in the head with the remote while Jakey says the following: "Daddy no seep! Kakey 'mote! Watchy-ehmo moah." (Daddy no sleep, Jakey remote, Watch Elmo more).

Last tidbit - Jakey has a joke! "Kakey watchy ehmo. Shish watchy ehmo?" then you say "Fish can't watch elmo!" and he laughs uproariously. Because, see, our fish are not near the TV. Trust me, it's funny. He's so cute!)

Jakey Reading his Book

It's pretty much a truism that watching language develop is beyond fascinating. Jakey's words have been emerging by threes and fours, as every day brings some new tidbit and expands his ability to make phrases. By now, he's mastered nouns - check out the video - and is experimenting with transitive verbs, even though he doesn't yet use prepositions. We watch him with delight, cobbling his stock of speech into communication, applying the still limited tools at his disposal to explain, demand, choose, and show affection. Who would ever think that a tiny 20 month old would have so many desires, would one moment want to tuck in quietly ("Kakey cudd' mommy") and the next be raring to go ("Kakey do'n. No uppies mommy! Kakey walk.")? Who could imagine that he would have preferences ("No 'ogut. Kakey eat quesa-ka-di'a. Kakey eat Z-bah. Kakey eat wheat. No soup. Kakey wan' beans.")? Who could predict that he would already play out his life through his stuffed animals ("Beah wachee E'mo. Beah wachee Bird. Beah run! Beah run mommy eye. Beah sit. Beah eat. Kakey beah eat.")? Extraordinary and wondrous days.

January 27, 2011

forty-two roads in Print!

I would like to send a hearty thank you to Narelle Yabuka at Gingko Press for publishing the Cardboard Book - and for including my work in it!

It was beyond flattering when they asked, and now that I see the finished product, I am thrilled to be associated with the amazing artists and designers that are also featured!

Check out more page views at the Gingko link above - and, you know, run out and buy yourself a copy today!*

*No, I don't get a cut of the proceeds - it's just a beautiful coffee table book.

January 26, 2011

A Spoonful of Yummy

You guys, you are awesome. Thanks for the creativity pep talks. I feel like just the act of writing about not having the motivation to make things pushed me to get past the hump a little. I guess that whole first-identify-the-problem step really is important. So far, the creativity has been of the cooking variety - which makes sense, seasonally, right? In this cold dark teatime of the soul, thoughts naturally turn to the comfort of food.

Spicy parsnip soup with turmeric

And nothing is more comforting than hot soup, especially when you - like all of us here - are nursing the dregs of a cold, especially when the soup is thick and rich and so spicy it clears your sinuses with the first bite, and even more especially when the soup turns out to be a delicious solution to the CSA parsnip problem. Topped with a bit of yogurt and some green onions, it rocks. Of course, the kids won't eat it, claiming spice-aversion.

I used the turmeric parsnip soup recipe from Jane Spice, a blog I only just discovered and already totally love. I used cayenne pepper powder instead of chili powder, which worked out just fine, and I used olive oil instead of sunflower oil, also without any problems.

A New Little Kitchen

Joyce's Little Kitchen

Joyce's daughter-in-law made this awesome kitchen after getting the instructions as a Christmas present. So excellent - I'm loving the stripes and the multi-generational project!

January 25, 2011

These Cold Cold Days

Ok, so I know that 20 degrees is probably a warm spring day for some of you (Hi, Dad!), but we're notorious wimps around here, so we've mostly been hiding out from the freezing weather, despite seizing a brief 40 degree respite to walk out to Jakey's favorite hangout spot.

Staying indoors is a mix of successes and failures as we first make and then immediately break lofty resolutions of no TV and all kid-centered awesomeness.

The former can be seen here in my amazing rhetorical feat of convincing Lara that a knight-king costume could trump her knee-jerk princess go-to getup:

The latter is exhibited here, as we all fell victim to mighty daycare germs of doom and ended up Daddy-pillow-vegging with Sesame Street:

January 24, 2011

Super Extra Banana Muffins

extra banana-y muffins

I opened the refrigerator yesterday to put three overripe bananas away to wait for conversion into bread when I saw... four way, WAY overripe bananas that had been sitting there for two weeks already. Yeah, I know. So I decided to defy the recipe and just put all of these bananas into one batch of muffin batter.

And guess what? Apparently where muffins are concerned, the more bananas the merrier. These are probably the best banana muffins I've ever made! Around here, everyone agrees. The highest indirect praise of all came when Lara, after trying a bite, declined to share her muffin with me.

So, here you go!

Preheat over to 350. Butter the muffin tin.

In one bowl mix together:

1 cup regular flour
1 cup whole wheat flower
1/2 cup raw cane sugar (for some reason this tastes better than more finely milled sugar)
1 tsp salt
1.5 tsp baking powder

In another bowl blend together:

8 tbsp melted butter
2 eggs
7 mashed bananas
1 tsp vanilla extract

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, stir to combine.
Distribute into muffin cups. Don't worry about overfilling - the bananas are so heavy that the muffins won't rise very much.
Bake for 25-30 mins, until a toothpick comes out clean.


January 23, 2011

Whither Creativity?

snow over wood chips

It has occurred to me that the creativity has kind of fallen off on this blog in the last months. Fewer and fewer projects, more and more cute pictures of cute small people. Which isn't to say that I don't enjoy chronicling the little underfoot humans around here, but still - why? Some of it is probably the normal ebbs and flows of business, but I think most of it has to do with the season. It's cold and mostly dark, and when the warm throws beckon from the couch it's easier to just curl up and watch TV than produce something.

What do you guys think? Do you have Seasonal Craft-affected Disorder? How do you snap out it?

January 13, 2011

Snow Bud

snow bud

For a few minutes, I wandered away from the squeals of the small people and noticed this tiny, perfect little scoop of snow nested in a dry leaf. This would be a really great way to serve dessert at one of the molecular gastronomy places where the snow would actually be crystallized custard and the tree some kind of extruded petrified blackberry relish. I'm looking at you, WD-50 - make it so.

January 12, 2011

Snowed In...

... and loving it!

The newest family outdoorsman is Jakey, whose despite it being his debut appearance, is now seeded first on our extremely extremely intramural winter sports team. He is obsessed with the snow and refuses to go back in the house once outside. Even when totally exhausted from running through the thick powder, he just sits down on the ground and starts narrating, "S'ow. S'ow cah. S'ow t'ee. Wok s'ow. Kakey wok s'ow. Daddy wok s'ow. Hi! Hi gohl. Bye-bye gohl. Gohl s'ow."* (Yes, that's right, he already finds time in his busy snow schedule to chat up the college girls in the apartment building next door.)

Lara is in that preschooler-going-on-teenager phase where she's way too cool to express too much overt excitement for something as mundane as snow. But still, when the imagination is rolling, there's no end to the awesomeness. Cars buried under 8 inches? "Snow eggs." And of course, snow is endlessly awesome science. "Water is on the ground. Then it turns into air and goes into the sky. Then it collects into clouds. When the clouds are too heavy they make rain. But if it's too cold then the rain turns into snow and falls down." Also, she's not above a sword fight or two with dear old dad!

* For those who don't speak toddler: "Snow. Snow car. Snow tree. Walk snow. Jakey walk snow. Daddy walk snow. Hi! Hi girl! Bye-bye girl. Girl snow."

January 11, 2011

Some Great Little Kitchens

Sarah built this lovely lavender number:

Little Kitchen - Sarah

Check out that brilliant sink faucet made out of a soap pump! Genius.

Here is the one Anne made:

Little Kitchen - Anne

I love that splash of red on the fabric - and the modern faucet placement off to the side. Super swanky!

January 5, 2011

Super Snow Sunday

Lara loves the snow and couldn't be pulled away from making snow fairies, trying to pack the powder into snowballs, and generally having a glorious time. Later, she described the water cycle to me in detail, having extrapolated correctly the whole rain-in-cold-weather-turns-to-snow phenomenon. She's all about science these days. Go ahead, ask her, "What are you made out of?" You know what she'll say? "Elements."

Jakey enjoyed the snow for a dazed half-hour, but then looked around like a man just waking from a dream, and we couldn't help but see the sudden disillusion in his eyes. "It's cold? And wet? Why on earth are we out here?" Since then, sure, he'll point at the stuff and say "soooow", but every offer to touch it is met with a resounding, "NO!"

January 3, 2011

New Year's Vacation

We spent a wonderful week with my mom over New Year's. My cousin and uncle came down also, the weather was gorgeous, the kids were hilarious, the food was amazing, and we even stayed up till 12:03 and watched the ball drop!

Check out this picture:

I think every single person in the shot has been photoshopped together.
This one really happened, though:

My mom bought the kids this super-cute tent.

Oh, sure, they look all cute and cooperative in these pictures, but here's what happened in reality: every chance she got, Lara would either go inside and then flip the thing upside down or else barricade the entrance with a piece of furniture - or, if all else failed, simply put the entrance against a wall. Why, you ask? To keep her brother from getting in.

The upshot? There was much policing of tent accessibility.

We checked out the crazy-awesome National Building Museum.

First, the big block room, where the main goal of every project that any kid was doing was to create a giant encasing box for another kid. Seriously, some boxes were tall - standing room only - and some were just for squatters, but all were human containers.

Then, Lara built this ridiculous ur-Jenga contraption that threatened to reach the very ceiling of the place... except she ran out of pieces. We deemed it to be pretty spectacular.

Jakey, meanwhile, spent the week growing up. One new accomplishment? The word "no" - and with that his tantrum-throwing arsenal is nearly complete. Let's see... Grunting growl of rage (+10 sonic attack rating)? Check. Balled up fists (-5 to effectiveness from chubby cuteness)? Check. Repeating "No! NO! NOOO!" (+20 bonus for wearing down parental defenses)? Check. All he needs now is the final piece of the puzzle - the stamina bluff making it seem like he could keep it up indefinitely.

But then again, he also says all sorts of other things, usually in little two or three word grouping. "Yeah, yeah, wan foo!" comes the cry of the hungry boy. Or the similar, "Yeah, yeah, pipa!" whenever pizza is on offer. Or the ever popular "beeeee" which stands for Jakey's favorite food - black beans with cheese. Like his sister before him, Jakey expands his vocabulary mainly in the direction of yum.

And what did Lara do besides playing lord of the tent? My uncle taught her how to work a tripod, which she totally loved - and with which she took some totally great pictures... on his camera.

Time much enjoyed by all.