Thursday, July 30, 2009

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Today I found Lake Grapevine (or what I think was Lake Grapevine). I walked down to the marina, snack and book in hand, and found a space on the dock to sit and stay a little while.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Things to do When Toddler-free

:: Paint your toenails. All ten of them.

:: Sleep in.

:: Walk around one-of-a-kind expensive glass art without holding your breath.

:: Try clothes on in outlet mall dressing rooms, without trying to barricade toddler in.

:: Chew your food. Take your time. Read a book and people-watch the mothers who pass by trying to wrangle their exuberant toddlers.

:: Call your toddler. Smile when she says she wants you and loves you. Let her know you miss her.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Welcome to Grapevine

Welcome to Grapevine. Texas, that is. I'm enjoying a few days of relaxing and taking in the sights, like this vintage steam engine, still in use.

This dress - just look at all those details! - is housed the museum where you buy tickets for the vintage train.

And, this washing machine reminds me of just how lucky I am to be a mama with modern appliances.

But who wants to think about laundry on vacation? The first rule of vacation: forget about laundry. The second? Let someone else do your cooking for you. Nothing says Texas like BBQ at the Hard Eight. So what's the third rule of vacation? Know when to sign off of the computer and get back to relaxing...

Friday, July 24, 2009

For Posterity's Sake: Week in Review 29

This morning as I was dressing Audrey, she said, "Mama, I want to wear a hat today." We found this little white fisherman's hat, which seemed to suit her fancy just fine.

Audrey is still focused on pointing out men anywhere she sees them. Although, this week, she has taken her "man" concept and use of the term a little further:

On Saturday morning, while dancing in her Dad's arms, she said, "Look! I'm up with my man."

On Tuesday we met up with some friends for lunch (two of them the toddlers who came to visit for a couple days). The restaurant had helium balloons tied to a rail. The girls, of course, were determined to pull them from the rail. Failing miserably, but refusing to give up, we saw one girl after another have her efforts rewarded by different gentlemen (waiting in line to order) pulling out their pocket knives and cutting the balloons down. I tried to loosely tie Audrey's to her wrist, which failed. All three balloons kept finding their way to the ceiling, followed by three begging girls asking for them to be pulled back down. After one popped against the ceiling (almost inducing a heart attack in the lady dining at the table next to us), I told Audrey to wait until we were ready to leave and I would get her balloon for her. She looked at me and said, "Do I need a man?"

Audrey has also had some interesting questions concerning God this week. Jason had to leave Saturday afternoon for a meeting in Chicago through Wednesday. Knowing it was the weekend (although, I still don't know how since toddlers don't carry day planners), she kept telling him that he shouldn't be leaving because work was closed. Jason told her that even though work was usually closed, he still had to go. She asked, "Did God open work?" This was a question repeated frequently this week as she missed her Dad, broken up by the random (and also much repeated) question Wednesday of, "Did Jesus make mud?"

Tonight as I dressed her for bed she caught sight of the clean diaper I was about to put on her. "It's purple," she said.

"Yes," I said.

"Did you go upstairs to get that for me?" she asked.

"No, Daddy got it for you."

"Oh my!" she said. Then yelled into the other room, "Thank you!"

This coming week is a bit of a new adventure for me. I'm taking this blog on the road as I rest and rejuvenate. I hope you all get to rest and rejuvenate a bit, too. Have a good weekend!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Rain Walk

Kids are like the postal service. Rain or shine, they are prepared to brave the elements.

Yesterday was rainy. But that didn't stop Audrey from expressing her desire to take a walk.

So we zipped up her raincoat, pulled on those beloved red boots, and headed out into the mist. With Emmy (who does not adhere to the code of the postal service).

We found a puddle, and there we stayed until Emmy was soggy and Audrey was drenched to the knees.

Today we drove by the place where the puddle had been and found a dry spot with two muddy patches. I felt gratitude for raincoats and little red boots, dogs who need walked, and toddlers who know not to let the moment pass them by.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Childhood Revisited

I love when a childhood friend comes to visit.

I love it even more when she brings her little ones along,

and begins the cycle

all over again.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Cookies Cookies Everywhere

There you have it. That's what cookies for 75 people look like. Although, I had been hoping for 2 cookies a person (if 75 people attend), and my recipes said the dough would make enough to accomplish that, but apparently I make huge cookies. So there's a hundred, now safely delivered to their banquet site.

Now we have pizza dough rising in the bread maker and one very excited two-and-a-half year old who can't wait for some very special guests to arrive. And, one hungry mama who needs a snack - anything but cookies!

Friday, July 17, 2009

For Posterity's Sake: Week in Review: 28

This has been an interesting week in labels. When Audrey asks me my name, I tend to tell her it's "mama", just because I'm afraid of having a toddler who calls me "Kristin" all the time. Well, she must have picked up on Jason calling me "Kris". Apparently, Tuesday morning I did not come to her room quickly enough. Suddenly, I heard the baby gate that blocks her door rattling and her yelling, "Kris! Kris! I need to go potty!"

Audrey has also been really focused on pointing out who is a man and who is a woman. (Of course, she calls every man a "big man" and every woman a "big woman", as opposed to a "little boy" or "little girl." This led to a little explanation on my part in Target this week as she says, "Look. It's a big woman," in regard to an employee retagging items on a shelf. The woman was maybe a size 6.) So I suppose it should not have caught us off-guard when she looked at her Dad on Tuesday night and said, "I love you, man."

Apparently, Audrey doesn't discriminate when it comes to talking about size. She also notices when she's the bigger woman. Thursday night I was letting her watch a cartoon while I finished dinner. The main character asked, "Are you coming to my sleepover?"

Audrey said, "No, I'm too big."

Thursday morning Audrey slept in. It was nine '0 clock before she woke up. When I went to get her out of bed she said, "It's too early." Of course, when I offered to let her sleep a little longer, she declined.

Today she told me she wanted to eat at Chick-fil-a. I told her that we had food at home and were eating there. "Chick-fil-a is closed?" she asked.

"It's closed for us today," I said.

"Can Jesus open it?" she asked.

I laughed. "If anyone can open it when it's closed, it's Jesus, honey. But we're still eating at home."

One of the sweetest expressions Audrey has begun to use this week is "Can I have you?" She says this when she wants to crawl into my lap (usually when I'm in the middle of some project) or wants me to pick her up.

The other sweet thing we've had a lot of are serenades. Audrey's favorite songs to sing are the chorus of "Stop in the Name of Love" (taught to her by her Dad, complete with hand motions) and "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" sung as:

"Tinkle Tinkle Little Star. I know what you are."

I think that there is something very special about two-and-a-half-year-olds. Something that allows them to know what stars and other things are before we go about telling them what they should think and of what everything is made. Part of them that does not know that there are words to which others may take offense (even when used honestly). Part of them that knows nothing is impossible. Someone is always able to open a door for them, and sometimes, the best way to get someone's love or attention is simply to ask. And when all else fails, it never hurts to sing.

Wishing you a great weekend!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I Heart Chocolate

I have volunteered to make cookies for 75 people on Monday night. Of course, volunteering and actually thinking about what your offer means are two different things. When it comes to thinking about providing cookies for 75 hungry people, well, that can make a girl nervous.

How do you combat your nerves? Make the batter in advance. You know, give yourself a false sense of confidence. Today we grabbed aprons, mixing bowls, measuring cups and got down to business. First, we began with a batch of Snickerdoodle dough (one of my favorites and my cookie default setting, if my brain is wired with dessert default settings).

That dough finished and snug in freezer, I decided to take advantage of the opportunity and experiment. Every time we go to a bakery or snag a cookie from a cafe, Jason and I always pick Double Chocolate Chip Cookies (or Chocolate Chocolate Chip, if you prefer). Yet, we've never attempted to make them at home. Until today.

We used this recipe to whip up our batter. The recipe makes it sound as if they mix the batter by hand, but I used an electric mixer. I have nothing against mixing by hand, but when I'm baking with my little one, I opt for the electric mixer. I take the wet ingredients while she combines the dry. If I spend too much time on my part, and I would if I mixed by hand, I'm liable to end up fishing crayons out of the dry ingredient mixture (you think I'm kidding). The electric mixer worked just fine. Of course, this batter didn't go straight into the freezer. You didn't expect me to serve a bunch of innocent kids and their parents cookies without trying them first, did you? In the words of my two-and-a-half-year-old food critic, "they're yummy." Chewy, rich (of course, with 2 cups of different kinds of sugar, 2 sticks of butter, cocoa powder and chocolate chips, did we expect anything less?), and slightly gooey, grab a glass of milk to drink with these. You'll need one.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Taste of Sunshine

I have been walking around with gold in my stomach. Bruised gold. Over the weekend my Mom handed me a basket of sunset-colored peaches. They had been part of a peach farmer's first harvest and were selling for $60 a bushel. Mom bought the less expensive peaches, the slightly bruised ones, for a discounted price. While they had a blemish or two on the outside, on the inside they were perfect. Sweet as candy and juicy enough to warrant a bib (although I refrained). A taste of summer boasting the best colors of fall, which seems about right as the summer days flit by in a rush. Luckily, there are many peaches to be had before we return to jackets, corduroy, and crackling bonfires. How rich.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Shoes of Summer

When Audrey was eight-months-old, she crawled for the first time - straight toward one of her grandmother's shoes. Her fondness for foot apparel has only grown as she's learned to put a few pairs on all by herself. These are her favorites of the summer, the ones she grabs time after time, no matter the occasion:

The new (at least to us):

I found these ballet slippers for $3 at a garage sale. They are the teeniest bit too big, but Audrey loves to slip them on and run around the house. Of course, she has not assigned the shoes a role, such as dancing. To her, they are anywhere shoes, any time, any place - just because she loves them. I have to catch her on her way out the door to the garden and try to reason with her as to why these may not be the best gardening shoes. (But, I have to admit, I love her devil-may-care attitude toward dressing that matches the fearless way she moves through life. Her style always makes me smile).

The old:

These cute lady bug boots were a gift from her aunt and have been worn everywhere: around the house; following Daddy around the yard (in 90 degree weather); to the store. They are just on the fringe of being too small, so she's soaking up all the moments she has left in them (literally at times - they have been sloshed through the baby pool) using all her might to tug them on, tight against her heels. Every time she asks me to help her yank the rubber backs up her calf, I can't help but think of how long they sat in the closet, too big to catch on her heels, waiting to be worn. And now, fitting so snug, I think of the too-quickly passing summer days and try to soak them up, one lady bug step at a time.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Getting My Party On - Domestic Goddess-Style

This weekend I attended a sewing party. Yes, such things exist. Well, at least one did this weekend. My sister, a second-grade teacher, had a large project to complete for her classroom before school starts in the fall. My mother, who knows a good socializing opportunity when she sees one, offered to get this project started (and finished, for that matter) by hosting a sewing party.

Five of us gathered, sewing machines in hand, to sit, socialize, and sew (we had to do a little work, after all).

Of course, no party would be complete without a smorgasbord of food - complete with desserts, but you'll have to take my word on those, they were nearly gone by the time I got the camera out (trust me, it's better this way, seeing those pies would have made you sad not to be there).

But the best thing about a sewing party may be seeing a finished project in the end. In our case, we had these cute chair covers to show for the hours spent sitting and chatting. (Disclaimer: I must have been high on key lime pie when I took these pictures. I slid the chair cover on backwards. The pocket should actually face the back - you'll have to use your imagination).

We managed to make 46 of these (I think that was the final count) in one day. Each student in my sister's class (as well as another teacher's) will have one in which to store notebooks, books, etc. while their chairs are pushed into tables with no other storage available. Pretty crafty, efficient, and fun. Just like a sewing party.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

For Posterity's Sake: Week in Review: 27

This week has been part recovery from vacation (reestablishing Audrey's earlier bedtime and routine/taking comfort in our own soft, comfortable bed/tackling that massive laundry pile) and part taking on new adventures (a huge on-going yard project/new creative projects and garden ventures). Audrey has her own way of showing us that her life is all about new adventures and absorbing everything around her. Now if only we could get her to embrace the recovery/rest part with such enthusiasm.

We got home from our trip on Monday. En route to our house, we stopped by Grammy's to pick up Emmy, our dog. Grammy's boyfriend was talking on the phone when we got there. Audrey ran over to him, put her hand up to her ear in pretend-phone-fashion, and began carrying on her own conversation full of "uh-huhs". I asked her who she was talking to. She said Bryan (her uncle who had just been on vacation with us. I said, "What was Bryan doing?"

She said, "Checking his email."

Wednesday we were having a little snuggle/reading session. Audrey had chosen a Halloween story (Yes, we keep the seasonal books out year-round. I keep meaning to make some sort of storage containers to house the seasonal books in, but keep putting it off.). She informed me she was going "to find her mommy" in the story.

"In this story?" I asked. She was adamant, and I was starting to wonder just where I was in this story, when I turned the page to a picture of a mummy.

She pointed to the picture. "See. My mommy."

Later that afternoon, I went to retrieve my shoes from the master bathroom closet. Audrey had followed behind me and then disappeared. Emmy's crate is just outside the bathroom. I heard it close. Audrey is notorious for locking Emmy in her crate. I walked out, saying as I stepped, "Audrey, it's not nice to lock Emmy in her crate."

Audrey wasn't standing right outside the bathroom where I expected her to be. First, I thought she'd made a run for it. Then, I looked in the crate. There she was, closed inside. I pulled her out, telling her she's never allowed to go into the crate, which is Emmy's private space. It's not until I've scooped up Audrey that I see Emmy, huddled in the back corner of the crate, not making a sound.

Thursday night Jason took something (I can't remember what it was now, probably a kitchen gadget) away from Audrey that she shouldn't be playing with. Feeling unjustly robbed, she ran into the kitchen, pointed a finger back at her Dad and said, "that man took it from me!"

One other big adjustment phase we're going through this week is trying to teach Audrey to tell us when she has to go to the bathroom rather than randomly trying to get her to go. For the most part, this has been a total bust. Except when she's in her bed. Audrey gets rewarded with a little marshmallow when she uses "the big girl potty." (We began rewarding her with chocolate covered raisins, but they lost their luster after she discovered marshmallows). This week, it is not uncommon to begin and end our days with her shouting from her doorway (while rattling the baby gate that keeps her inside), "I have to potty! I want a marshmallow!" Sometimes, this happens in reoccurring 30-minute increments after we've put her to bed until we have to tell her she can potty, but the marshmallows are closed.

We hope you are enjoying your weekend, either taking on new adventures or taking comfort in the things that make your home the place you want to return to again and again. If you're spending your weekend visiting someone else's home (or crate) we hope they welcomed you as if their place was your own. See you on Monday.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Sweet Smelling Surprise

I'm cheating a little today. I usually do the Week in Review on Fridays, but I'm going to put that off until tomorrow. Today, you get this little picture - a sweet little surprise I discovered this week while starting a mulching project. Several months ago my kind neighbor, Nor, offered me a peppermint root from her family's thriving patch to plant in my yard. I planted it, watched it wither, and forgot all about it. This week, as I was weeding our front mulch bed before adding new mulch, I found this beautiful green plant that smells even better than it looks. Don't you just love good surprises?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

First Harvests and Kitchen Acquisitions

I have some quirky vices. Maybe I'm not the only one. Chances are, I am. I could peruse kitchen stores for hours daydreaming about the dishes I want to buy - dishes that would stay in my china cabinet untouched most of the year, because, let's face it: you can only use so many dishes at a time. Of course, it doesn't just stop at the dishes. Utensils, appliances, cutting boards: if it pertains to getting food on the table, I'm intrigued. It's through this fascination that the Wilton Popover Pan (pictured above) came to live in our kitchen. I have to admit, I'd never thought much about Popovers and had no real desire to make them. Then, a couple months ago while ambling through the aisles at Target, I saw this pan on clearance for $5 and change. Suddenly, I couldn't live without it. A popover pan was exactly what my kitchen had been missing. So the pan came home with us, and found a place on our cabinet shelves, and sat there. For months. It's not that I didn't think about making popovers. I just never got around to it - until Tuesday night. Tuesday, I made Parmesan Garlic Rosemary Popovers. The recipe was conveniently located on the back of the pan's label. (Unfortunately, Wilton's website,, doesn't list it, but it does list several other yummy-sounding dessert recipes.) The popovers were a success, and a successful batch of popovers made that pan purchase seem like a smart idea, indeed.

So what to eat with Parmesan Garlic Rosemary Popovers? We came home to find zucchini ready-to-be-picked in the garden, so we settled on Jamie Oliver's Beautiful Zucchini Carbonara printed in Jamie at Home.

Here is our adaptation:

Salt some pasta water and bring to a boil. Prepare a box (about 14 oz) of penne pasta according to box instructions.

Quarter 2 large zucchini and discard seeds. Thinly slice quartered pieces.

In a small bowl, mix 4 egg yolks, 1/2 c. heavy cream, and 1 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add a Tbsp. of olive oil and 8 oz. of prosciutto, chopped into pieces. When the prosciutto has browned a bit, add the zucchini. Season with a few good cranks of freshly ground black pepper. Add in a Tbsp. of chopped thyme leaves. Stir to combine and coat zucchini in oil. Cook until zucchini has softened.

Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 c. of the pasta water. Add penne to the saucepan with zucchini. Remove pan from heat. Stir in 1/4 c. pasta water and the cream sauce. Add in another cup of freshly grated Parmesan and the rest of the pasta water if needed to make a smooth sauce.

I got a little kick out of seeing the zucchini and thyme come straight from our garden to my cutting board. After a long drive the day before to get home, lists of errands to run and chores to do, it was nice to have something be no farther than the backyard.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Back Home Again

We're home from our 4th of July vacation. We actually arrived home late Monday night, but I suppose I took one extra day to try to get things settled back into place. We spent the holiday weekend at a state park in Kentucky, nestled snugly against a lake, a place where we spent many a weekend with my grandmother while I was growing up, but hadn't been in recent years.

This was Audrey's first trip, one that I anticipated more than she did, I'm sure. She only knew she would be spending the weekend with her Mamaw, Papaw, aunt, uncle, and cousin - and that there was a pool. She heard these facts and quickly decided she was in.

I, on the other hand, couldn't stop thinking of the activities I had enjoyed as a kid and hoped that Audrey would love them, too: the afternoon with Albert Bauman, the pottery guy who is an amazing and unconventional teacher of all ages (yes, that is a car you see in the photo above, and if you look beyond the blue bucket, one of those "utensils" in the cup is a Barbie leg).

Here are our drying mother/daughter pots. Audrey's is in the foreground. (Right now they are sitting on the kitchen island waiting until I get the laundry done and house cleaned up to find a proper home. I'm not sure what they will hold, but sometimes I think that the use isn't nearly as important as how they came to be and where they've been).

The trip to Miss Patti's 1880s Settlement. This place has a bit of everything: amazing food served at Miss Patti's or Bill's Restaurants; a putt-putt course; a wedding chapel; model boat racing; movies played outdoors on Friday and Saturday nights; oh, and animals like peacocks. I just couldn't get over how vibrant this peacock's feathers were (and couldn't help but wonder, would we have believed we could create such vibrant colors if we hadn't seen them in nature first?).

Oh, and Jason and I were the only ones who didn't get the memo. It was family wears stripes night at Patti's.

Each year, a fireworks show is shot from the lake's public beach - showers of light reflected by lake water. Boats crowd the water's surface, adding their own red and blue lights to the show, punctuating the night between firework blasts with the approving sound of honking horns. This year, the show was sponsored by local businesses and performed on the Third rather than the Fourth. We spent a rainy Fourth evening tucked safely under the wooden beams of my parents' hotel room, making our own "fireworks" show of sorts when Mamaw pulled out a package of bendable glowsticks.

It was a full trip: golf for Jason; plenty of swimming, playground time, and hikes for Audrey; and even a few solitary run/walks along the water for me. Some quiet. Some fireworks. Some sunshine. Some rain. And one car full of exhausted riders and dirty laundry for the long drive home. Lots of memories, and a few lessons from our first vacation at the two-and-a-half-year-old stage. Here they are, in no particular order:

Always unpack your luggage the night you get home. Always. Even if it's midnight and you're exhausted. No matter what. Otherwise, your child might find the bag containing the sunscreen before you do, and to a toddler, sunscreen is as good of an artistic medium as any.

Be prepared to decipher old vocabulary words said in new ways in case your observant/absorbent child picks up the language of the locale that you visit. These are a few things we heard on the way home:

"Tah-hyme oww-oot" (time out)
"Dah-dee" (Daddy)
"Nah-howw" (now)

If you bring healthy snacks, you won't feel so bad when the only thing your child wants to eat at each meal is french fries or ice cream.

If your child has determined to only eat ice cream at the evening buffets, watch out for adult men who get overzealous with the ice cream machine handle, causing delays in ice cream production as your child worries over her dessert, which may never come. You may need to shoestring tackle said man in order to get to machine first. Or, reintroduce your child to chocolate cake. (No ice cream-loving gentlemen were harmed in the pursuit of our desserts).

Expect changes. The outdoor park grills that were there every year for 25 years may not be there anymore when you lug out the supplies you brought to make S'mores. Adjust. Find a microwave.

Never try to cut corners to get ready for dinner faster by putting your toddler in an unfamiliar shower with you rather than giving her a bath. Head injuries (as you stand up without looking after wrestling the shampoo from her before she dumps it down the drain) are imminent. (Try to learn this the first time. Not the fifth).

Hope your weekend was full of fireworks, ice cream, good friends, and only funny lessons.