(photo courtesy my friend Alison, www.redshoesphotography.com)
We are so grateful to announce the safe arrival of Atlas Andrew Barley born at 3am on Sunday 6/26/11! He is 6lbs 5oz and 19 inches of perfection.
(photos courtesy www.redshoesphotography.com)
We found a slew of people willing to go in on an order of live Maine lobster and we had a feast. I think it was around $12 per person for live Maine lobster delivered to my door.
The date was set, the tables were out, the sides were made and the people were coming. At noon my doorbell rang and a two big styrofoam boxes were on my porch. We quickly put them in the basement and then took a peek inside. Eighty-four rubber-banded claws poked up at us.
The bonus was having Darrel who had grown up in Maine (Ay-yuh!) do a tutorial on eating the whole thing.
This is definitely an outdoor feast. Big pots of boiling water, live lobster, lots of melted butter. It's a mess, a heavenly mess.
We had a keg of beer for the adults and lots of lemonade for the kids. Grilled corn in season was perfect. And before the lobsters were done we grilled hot dogs to fill the corners of any belly that needed a little something. The kids turned out to be connoisseurs of fine dining and were willing to eat the hot dogs but they definitely wanted a lobster too.
It's easy being brave with rubber bands.
Choosing a favorite
Manning the pots
Lobstah will do this to ya!
A big roll of brown paper made the perfect tablecloths and paper products made clean up a breeze.
We then enjoyed the sunset with some guitar, fiddle playing and singing.
If you are looking for a different sort of summer bbq; I highly recommend Simply Lobsters. They delivered to our door three thousand miles away live lobsters on time.
When Valiant was born I made no attempt to announce his arrival to the world. He rocked my world too much for that.
At the time I thought I was making the transition to motherhood pretty well, but looking back and comparing my progress to that of my sisters’ when their second or even fourth children arrived, I was in pretty rough shape. Most things were hurdles for me. Say, for example, getting out the door to a 9:30am doctor’s appointment at an office 12 blocks from my house. “What was I thinking when I made that appointment?!?” I remember wondering to myself as I nursed and diapered Valiant in the waiting room, an ugly, un-showered mess myself. Didn’t my pre-baby self know that 9:30 was the butt crack of dawn?!? I think we got to his newborn appointment sometime after he was a month old. I don’t remember. I wasn’t sleeping well.
Needless to say, I was not crafting birth announcements, holding baptism parties or doing anything else that a well-adjusted mother might do. I considered it a triumph when I made it to the baby shower brunch my mother- and sister-in-law were holding for me a little before most guests. The fact that I was fully dressed and had makeup on was a success clearly on par with a lunar landing. Another major achievement in my questionable judgment was remembering to ask Meghan to over-night ship a baptismal gown to me right before Valiant’s baptism. That “diaper cake” friends made for another shower of mine, composed of 125 newborn diapers, certainly came in handy when I realized as we left the hospital that I’d never bought any.
If you would have asked me, though, I would have said I was doing great. I think the key to survival was low expectations.
Knowing myself a little better, I decided to be ahead of the game this time. So weeks ago I began researching what I could do for a birth announcement for Baby #2, Atlas. I didn’t care if it was a lot of work, I felt like doing something creative and since I was planning so far in advance, I figured I’d just do a few things every other day to get it done. So that’s my disclaimer to this project. I’m not going to tell you it’s not time consuming, because if you’re making 130 announcements like I am it will take you a while. If you’re making 25, this will be a snap. You can, however, do most steps before the baby arrives, no matter how many you’re making.
This is what you’ll need:
-Cardstock (surprisingly I found the best and cheapest selection at Staples, and I felt like I looked EVERYWHERE)
-Paper cutter, or a steady hand for straight lines
-Decorative edge punch (I ordered mine from The Paper Source but I’ve seen them at Michaels Craft)
-Rolodex Cards (also available at Staples)
-Circle Punch, or a lot of patience for cutting out circles (also got mine at The Paper Source)
-Return Address Embosser (guess where? The Paper Source)
-Clear Address Labels (optional)
-“Received” Stamp (also Staples)
-Photos of the new baby
-Business Card with all of his “business” info printed on it (I ordered mine from VistaPrints which has a good selection and also offers free business cards if you pay for the shipping)
Step 1: Cut out the 6 x 11″ card from regular 8 x 11″ size card stock
Step 2: Punch along the top edge with the decorative punch
Step 3: Feed through the printer (with mine you need to do this by hand) to add whatever typed message you want. I decided on “please add me to your rolodex” and used a cool typewriter font that I downloaded for free from a website that a friend, Emeth, tipped me off to. Here are two resources: www.dafont.com and www.fontsquirrel.com.
Step 4: Fold the paper in thirds. The idea is that it will serve as both the card and the envelope. This was a cost-saving technique I decided on mostly because I had a hard time finding 130 quality envelopes in a satisfactory color.
Step 5: Glue down a rolodex card in the bottom third of the card with rubber cement, leaving enough space above it to affix the business card on top.
Step 6: Cut out as many circles as you have cards. These will act like a sticker to hold the tri-fold card closed for mailing and also be your return address. I bought a circle punch that was 2 1/8″ wide in order to fit my return address embosser.
Step 7: Emboss the circles with your return address. I’ve wanted one of these embossers forever and this project was a good excuse to get one. The whole thing (personalized plate + embosser) is not cheap but you can buy another plate and switch it out if you change addresses frequently like we do, or if you just want to use it to emboss a different message later.
Step 8: Organize your address book and print out the addresses you want to send the cards to on clear, sticky address lables for a professional look. Affix to your cards. Or just hand address them.
Step 9: Add postage. The post office currently sells two different “celebrate” stamps or you could order a personalized stamp from here that could easily double your postage cost, fyi, but look really cool:
OK. You are now about as prepared ahead of time as you can be. The only things remaining to do after the baby arrives, are:
Step 10: Photograph and have pictures of the new baby made. I plan to use 3.5 x 5 photos since I think that’s what will fit best on the card. Surprisingly almost no one prints 3.5 x 5’s anymore but I found a website that does called Mpix.com that I want to use. My plan is to photograph him on or in a cardboard box as if he “just arrived”.
Step 11: Stamp the photos with the “received” stamp. I bought one with an adjustable date function, so that I could set it to the date Atlas is born, and also a line for the “receiver” to sign, where I’ll put Tim and my names. Here’s an example from Martha Stewart:
Step 12: Affix the photo to the center 1/3 of the card with rubber cement.
Step 13: Order business cards. There’s no law saying you have to print business info on a business card. Atlas’ is going to have his birth weight, length and other vitals and list him as a “Junior Partner” of the business Tim and I have. Here’s the card I settled on:
Step 14: Affix the business card on top of the rolodex card with rubber cement. The inside is finished! and here’s the gist of what it will look like:
Step 15: Glue the cards closed with the return address embossed circle.
Step 16: Mail!
Ever since I bought a table specifically for painting, I’ve been stymied.
That beautiful table taunted me. So I put a large sheet of water color paper on it and had the mason jar full of water just in case. And there it sat day after day, week after week. In fact in began to seem that because I had this wonderful spot solely for painting, I now could not.
This week I absolutely forced myself to stand in front of that table and face that blank white paper.
Hightailing It. 7"X8"
Rocks! 4 1/2" X 15" I couldn't paint rocks, I was determined to paint rocks. I painted rocks.
Some friends and I started a knitting group this winter and this was our first project. We wanted to start with something quick and easy. Easy it was. Quick it wasn’t. But we still had a lot of fun getting together once a week to chat, chase our kids, snack, and knit an average of 4 stiches. At least I had the dealine of Erin’s due date to motivate me and I proudly shipped these off the other week to the newest and yet unborn member of the family.
Basically this is what you do:
1) knit 5 squares the size you would like each box to be
2) line squares with plastic mesh by tacking down in a few places (on the large one I doubled up the mesh for more support)
3) sew 4 squares together with yarn and needle so they look like this:
4) Now you are going to line your stip of knitted squares with some adorable fabric (cut it and iron down 1/4″ border to fit the knitted stip) like so:
5) And sew it into place like this:
6) Do this for 4 different sized boxes so they look like this when finished:
And if all this sounds totally off the mark and utterly unhelpful (remember, cut me some slack, this is my first knitting project, that is, if you don’t count the 3 mile scarf I made for my Dad for Christmas when I was 14) anyways, if you need better directions get this super cute book: Itty Bitty Toys. It has so many adorable animals in it, and if anyone makes the little reversible egg to bluebird and nest I want to see it! Send me a picture.
If you’re looking for a book on restoring houses, here’s an awesome one for your consideration. Tim got me this for my birthday on the recommendation of a client who renovates houses in DC and I love it! It’s called Restoring a House in the City and unlike a lot of books I enjoy looking through, it also has a super-interesting and informative text, so I don’t spend all my time on the pictures only.
A long time ago, I boarded a plane and landed in Chile for a year. I didn’t speak the language and I didn’t know a soul. I lived with a family, attended public school, graduated fluent in Castilian and then came home to graduate in English.
That summer I took a bus, by myself to New York City; found an office building where I would spend the night, by myself; got up the next morning and chaperoned a busload of students back to Massachusetts; students who were about six months younger than I.
I drove from Kansas to Maryland on college break with a gal I hardly knew, stayed in some really sketchy hotels, then hopped a train to Massachusetts to get home all because it would be a change from flying.
Never even mind the very spur of the moment camping trip from Oklahoma to Oregon, no tent, no sleeping bags, no cooking stuff, no nothin’ with five kids in tow. That and the youngest was in diapers and I used cloth.
I prided myself on being very spur of the moment, low key, independent, cool, calm, collected.
That little day trip to Walla-Walla made me realize something shocking about myself. I’m not anymore.
Matthias was anxious to give his niece and nephews some magic wands he had whittled so after Taite’s piano lesson we went to Meghan’s. Her in-laws were visiting and they had decided on a day trip to Walla-Walla. When we walked in, they wondered if we’d like to go too.
My immediate answer was, “NO!, I mean no, I have to buy milk today, we’re out.” My mind was racing, you don’t just up and take a day trip, no time to think about all the possibilities, what we might need, what we might not have. No.
That was just foolish. Of course we could go and of course if we weren’t home we wouldn’t be needing the milk right then, now would we? Hesitantly, I agreed to go. And it was a great day.
It’s a small thing to realize we change. Course we change, that’s what makes us alive. But we need to be changing for the better and small things banded together amount to huge things. Just because you used to be sociable, eternally joyful, patient, slow to anger, thankful, and game to try something new, does not mean that without work you will stay that way. It takes conscientious hard work to keep the good traits and pitch the bad. Entropy.
So, I learned two things that day:
1. I am not spontaneous; I need to work on that.
2. Cutting cucumbers on the diagonal makes it seem like a whole different vegetable.
That's how Olive Marketplace and Café cut their cucumbers for the salad I ate that day and I just thought, wow, they don't have to be circles they could be oval. I could do that! So, the trip turned into a sabbatical for me.
- My in-laws are visiting and so we decided to take a little trip to Walla Walla.
Walla Walla sweet onions
Olive turned out to be a great little place to have lunch with five little kids.
We had an upstairs room that looked down into the kitchen...
where we were able to watch them make...
A stop at Bright's Candies finished the day.
And everyone got a nice big cone.
Some bigger than others. But the ice cream was all gone in the end.
It’s summer and I am seeing the same thing I saw last year, bra straps and camisole straps. When did it become ok to have those straps hanging out? Once upon a time ladies attempted to keep that bit of underwear hidden. Serious effort was given to not show underwear lines through your pants and definitely no polka dotted or zebra print underwear with white pants. Never. It’d show through. Even bras were carefully, meticulously hidden even under a tank top. Not now.
This is seriously tacky looking.
It seems like it’s a fashion statement now to be, “Look I wear a bra, please notice, and please also note, it is almost the same color as my dress; see, pink dress, pink bra, cute, huh?” The straps just hang out there like it looks good. If you have a spaghetti strap dress, please, I really don’t want to see your bra straps too. Really. Maybe it is time to invest in a strapless bra so you can wear that cute little spaghetti strap dress and look classy all at the same time.
There was a time when women would go to some measure to hide their bras. If you had a racer back style shirt, you could buy a clip to pull the straps together to hide the bra. You could buy transparent straps to attempt to conceal your bra. you could…
Am I missing something? Is it now considered attractive? I mean, it could be. Heaven knows I have really slipped on knowing the current fads and styles, and, well, you did see My What Not to Wear humiliation. So, it definitely could just be me. But, I think it looks tacky and cheap.
I am really hoping it is a fashion faux pas. Here are some gadgets and devices to keep those bra straps under cover. Please, am I the only one?
I am not a Francophile so this book was a surprise. I thought I’d despise reading about how the French always have been and always will be better than Americans. How the French do everything just so and just so right. How Americans are always loud and obnoxious, have no class. But I enjoyed La Seduction.
The nuance of culture is fascinating; the very thing that appeals to one culture can be despicable in another. Sexual harassment for instance.
Elaine Sciolino explains why ‘sexual harassment’ is not a problem in the French workplace. French women do not find it offensive to be ogled at, exclaimed over and whistled at. If “the window cleaner whistles, my day will be sunnier.” In the United State a whistle from a window cleaner would be an invasion of your space, an assault on your being; you’d be insulted. Yet the French find it flattering. So do Italians, and Latin Americans…
Americans find sloppy dressing practical and easy; the French find it unacceptable and vulgar. Americans wear flannel pajamas with fuzzy slippers in public. The French get dressed up for everything, even to take out the trash. And the French never, ever run to the store in sweatpants and sneakers. Ever. It’s because, “On ne sait jamais,” one never knows… And those very practical cotton underwear underneath? Never!
A last layer of clothing the French never do without is perfume. Of twelve French perfumers who were asked about their favorite all twelve responded with the same perfume.
Elaine Sciolino carefully uncovers the French milieu. Seduction is key. And seduction is war. Its three weapons are: “le regarde” (the look), “the word,” (marivaudage) and “the kiss”(bise). It is a soft power with the ability to influence others through attraction rather than coercion.
There is something chaste and pure about “the look,” there is no sullying of the body. Le regarde is done mysteriously and deeply not with a big toothy smile. And do not wink, only whores wink. American men do not “look” and that missing “look,” the French say, is why American women get fat, if only American men would really notice the American women.
“Marivaudage,” is like banter or wordplay. And with that marivaudage a soft deep voice is desired. You marivaudage to get the best cut of meat from the butcher, get off without a speeding ticket, get help carrying a package.
“La bise,” is more than just a kiss. There is the simple kiss to say ‘hello,’ but there is also a kiss that says, ‘perhaps…’
But that’s not all; Sciolino takes us on a tour of French wine, French cuisine, and French diplomats and politicians. She even brings up Dominique Strauss-Kahn, head of the International Monetary Fund, asking whether the rumors about his serial womanizing are true. Apparently so.
For me, the French go over the top with their ideas about extramarital affairs. Strauss-Kahn’s wife was asked in 2006 if “she suffered because of her husband’s reputation as a seducer.” “No, if anything I am quite proud! For a political man, it is important to seduce. As long as I seduce him and he seduces me, that’s good enough.”
Yep, go ahead, call me puritanical, as Sciolino is prone to do. That is sick.
If you plan to spend time in France or just want to understand different cultures, you will appreciate this in-depth look at the culture of “seducere.”
Valiant turned 1 year while we were out of the country which we over-celebrated, according to Tim, by buying him a light-up bouncy ball from a street vendor. You can only imagine what he thought when I proposed an actual party with a cake and everything. I don’t think he’s opposed to people having birthdays, he just doesn’t think a 1 year old will ever remember such a thing and therefore any celebration would be over-kill. There’s a part of me that agrees with him but an even larger and ever-growing part of me that can be guilt-ed into almost anything. It probably has to do with having children. Anyway, suffice it to say that I compromised between the two feelings and held a low-key backyard birthday in the middle of the day on a weekday.
I’m not much of a cake baker so I went with the only cake I can remember my mom making (besides red velvet) and made the Spumoni Cake from out of our family cookbook. Bonus: it looks pretty and like a lot more work than it is, it tastes good and not super sweet, and I don’t have to make actual frosting which is always a plus.
I’m too pregnant to want healthy food so I justified my own desires by saying the food was kid-friendly. The menu included hot dogs, Martha Stewart’s Gourmet Mac and Cheese (which I do not include a link for because I cannot in clear conscience recommend it– it was good but I’ve made mac and cheese that was just as good or better before and which did not make me want to hurt myself or someone else afterward– why do I always let that woman do that to me?), baked beans, carrots and apple slices, lemonade with strawberries.
Since we do not currently have a backyard to speak of, I held the party in the yard of the rental we own that was conveniently between renters at the time. And I borrowed all the yard toys I could get my hands on from a good friend who does not live in the city. It wasn’t the most elaborate party I’ve ever held but it served its purpose and people were kind enough to come. We’ll save the pony rides for another time.
Recipe for the Spumoni Cake follows in the next post.
Like I said- what could be easier than a box cake? I use a white cake mix (and I usually leave out egg yolks so that it stays whiter).
You may have your own tricks but I cut out a round of parchment paper to go in the base of the cake pan because it ruins my day when the cake falls apart and sticks to the bottom of the pan. Then I turn it upside down on the top of the pan so I am ready for the next step.
…which is cutting the cakes in half so that you have a total of 4 cakes.
Next I get the ingredients for the different “frosting” layers ready.
Whip the cream together with the powdered sugar.
Add it to your prepared ingredients…
Mix in the food coloring and or flavorings as directed..
…and frost your layers.
I know the Peep takes away from the understated simplicity of this cake but since Valiant was born on Easter, I couldn’t help myself.
One rainy morning at the coast (imagine!) we decided to visit the Tillamook Air Museum. Andrew is crazy nuts about airplanes and is ace at identifying what exactly is flying over him at anytime. I knew one of us would enjoy the afternoon. I was pretty sure it wouldn’t be me.
This seemed pretty straight forward to me...
So, exactly which part of that sign did they not get!?
Have you ever had that experience where you learn a new word and then suddenly it pops up in the book you are reading, a conversation, everywhere? Or you learn of an historical event and then suddenly it is discussed all over the place, in conversation, in a book? Just happened.
Norden Bomsight, ever heard of it? You will now, and probably someone will bring it up in conversation and then you will read about it in some book.
This little contraption was set inconspicuously on the bottom shelf of a cabinet in the Tillamook Air Museum. I glanced at the dusty thing and moved on. Andrew came upon it and of course, knew exactly what the thing was and all the little details of its life and began exclaiming over it. I came back for my second glance.
Seriously, would this appeal to you?
This was a super secret weapon in WWII. So critical, the bombadiers swore an oath to defend its secret with their lives if necessary and if there arose the possibility of it falling into enemy hands, they were to destroy it. This was one of the most critical reasons we won the war. The Norden Bombsight allowed the Air Force to bomb accurately, at night, at high altitudes, in bad weather, with the plane rolling and pitching.
The bombadier would input the altitude and speed, and the Norden Bombsight would calculate the trajectory and release point for the bomb. It was an amazing leap in accuracy. The Norden Bombsight was escorted to the plane under canvas cover by armed guard and kept covered until after take-off. Following a flight, the Norden Bombsight was put in a secure and secret safe under lock and key until needed again.
It had cost 1.5 billion dollars to make, more than half the cost of the atomic bomb, and there it lay, sort of rusty, on the bottom shelf in a remote seaside town’s museum.
As we drove home from the coast we listened to Malcolm Gladwell’s book, What the Dog Saw when suddenly he told the story of this little contraption that was critical to winning the war.
Let me know when you next hear of the Norden Bombsight.
White coral bells, upon a slender stalk
Lilies-of-the-valley deck my garden walk.
Oh, don’t you wish, that you could hear them ring…
That will happen only when the fairies sing.
Did anyone else grow up singing this little song? I think we sang it at Brownies. Wow, are there still Brownies and Girl Scout troops? By the time we hit Cadet level it was a bit of an embarrassment to be associated with an upstanding organization like that. Anyone in the troupe was sworn to secrecy. Or else. Is it still like that? Maybe so since I never see a Girl Scout in uniform. Ever.
Anyway, I love this hardy little shade happy plant. I dug up a few from our old house to bring to the new and lo, it lives! I love a hardy looking yet beautiful flower. Petunias do not fit that description. I hate to condemn the petunia but I just don’t like it. They look so papery fragile. Are they?
Who knew Erin and I would both develop such a fetish for floor coverings? Anyways, here are the beauties on sale for June, enjoy!
Stenciled Cowhide, Brown Giraffe on Beige cowhide, size Large,
$310 Sale Price: $227
Stenciled Cowhide, Black leopard on white hide, size Large,
$385 Sale price: $270
Stenciled Black “Baby Zebra” on white Cowhide, size Large,
$380 Sale Price: $256
Acid Washed Specialty Colored Devore Cowhide, Chocolate and Copper Metallic, (Size of print is available in small and lage) Size: X Large
$440 Sale Price: $292
Also on sale this month are these very fun cowhide coasters (similar ones pictured at top too):
Cowhide coasters, set of 20, solid colors, assorted
$88 Sale Price: $54
Last year we upped our camping from primitive (no toilets, no shower, but one water spigot way down the road) to yurt camping (water, toilets and showers way down the road). This year my brother-in-law reserved the same yurt for the six of us and we did it again. It’s really nice to ease into the camping experience by stopping at an incredible restaurant first. So we did.
This inn boasts a long history. A Danish immigrant and his Norwegian wife bought these 120 acres overlooking the Columbia Rive Gorge in 1859. In 1925, a new owner, Grace H. Palmer had a Tudor Arts and Crafts style restaurant and inn built for $47,000. Located along Rt. 30 it was a popular spot but when I84 opened business faded away.
The proprietor then, William Moessner, tended to this ghost hotel until his death in 1979.
Perhaps that ghostly past is the reason Twilight chose this inn as the site for filming the prom scenes.
In 1998, the Forest Service, Multnomah County, Columbia River Gorge Commission and the Friends of the Columbia Gorge, all teamed up for a land grab of this privately owned property. Not until 2006, was it at long last re-established as a privately owned hotel and restaurant. Mom and pop take on big government and win, my kind of place to dine!
We felt a tad ridiculous showing up in this linen tablecloth, fine china restaurant in our camping clothes. The staff dressed in black slacks and white buttondown, never blinked and treated us like fine patrons.
With a view like this, you can see why the U.S. Forest Service would want to steal the site from these folks.
The inn has one descrete photo of the link to Twilight.
We drove to the Vista House. Taite and Matthias figured they had dined with this amazing view and opted to sit in the car watching a movie instead of taking this in! Really.
Every Sunday morning I’ve been craving cinnamon rolls. Not just any cinnamon rolls, but perfect ones. Not too puffy, not too dense, slathered in carmel but crisped around the edges. I’ve tried all sorts of recipes, methods, and tricks so now I give you the perfect combination. Best of all you make it a day ahead and just pop it in the oven when you roll out of bed. I give credit to Ria and Mick for the combination of their recipes, resulting in one crave-worthy breakfast. Enjoy!
The dough part:
Dissolve 1 Tbs. yeast in 1 cup warm water
Add: 1/3 C butter or margarine,
1/3 C sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
Gradually add flour beginning with 2 cups but no more than 5. Knead well in kitchen aid or by hand. Dough will be quite slack and soft– this is good! Place in greased bowl, turn once and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise about 1 hour.
The filling part:
1) Combine and pour in a 13×9 glass baking dish:
1 stick butter, melted
1/2 C brown sugar
2 Tbs. corn syrup
2)Have ready and set aside:
1 softened stick butter
1/2 C brown sugar
Roll out dough in a large rectangle (about 15″ x 12″) Spread with softened stick of butter and then sprinkle 1/2 C brown sugar over dough, dust f generously with cinnamon until it looks irresistible. Roll up the dough beginning with the long end. Pinch ends. Now this is the really clever rpart— get a piece of dental floss and slip it under your “log” of dough. Bring up the ends together to perfectly cut the individual rolls. Set rolls in the prepared gooey baking dish, cover with plastic wrap and put in fridge over night.
Next morning: take the rolls out of the oven first thing and let them sit on the counter while the oven heats to 350 degrees. Bake for 20 minutes and then turn down the oven if they are getting too dark. Test with a knife in the middle to make sure all dough is baked. Carefully flip pan onto a large platter and let carmel drip out. Devour in utter bliss.