she turned three and we ate cereal

She turned three yesterday. She will tell you that she is seven, or maybe six, but she is three. Our week was full of house repairs, so we were staying at my parents’. Two days of work turned into five days of work, so by the time I got around to asking Lenna what she would like to do for her birthday breakfast I was hoping she’d go easy on me. And she did. The blessed child said she wanted cereal for her birthday breakfast. Asher tried to intervene and remind her of all the amazing things she could ask for, but I quickly shut him down. Can I just say that cereal, strawberries, and milky coffee eaten on the back porch makes for a very easy and chill birthday celebration?

Hello Kitty cupcakes and presents rounded out the day. She adored the bed we got for her dolls, squealed when she opened a little stuffed dog that came housed in a purse, and clicked away on her new camera.

I still can’t believe she’s three.

the saturday breakfast table

asher woke me up this morning with a tap and gun noises from a little green army man. omar was at work. i was tired. so i did what any sane, yet tired, person with leftover shortcake biscuits and whipped cream would do – i served it for breakfast. music played. coffee steamed away, and the little people ate everything right up.

for wednesday

the online magazine Edits Quarterly caught my eye the other day. and the one minute video of florence, italy? just beautiful. i love that city.

and to keep up the italy daydreams, today’s quiet time was full of ice cream topped with a shot of espresso. it’s called an affogato in the world of italian food, and while it does indeed rhyme with avocado (sort of), don’t make this poor uninformed waiter’s mistake.

i think there might be more coffee paraphernalia in my future. omar declared the other day that i am hard to shop for. i declared that i am not, but when i tried to come up with some birthday gift ideas i saw his point. evidently i am drawn to things utilitarian and under 20 bucks (coffee drippers and spoon rests) or completely unnecessary and over 1000 (new nikons. sigh.).

it is done. the bbc show MI-5 has come to an end. i watched the final season last week and true to form, they killed off yet more characters. important characters. i’m not even sure how many times omar heard me shout out “they killed another one!!” over the 10 seasons. but don’t let that keep you from watching the series. i was just hoping that because they never had any qualms about killing so much of the cast off that they might pull a fast one on us and end the show with smiles and kisses and happiness. they did not.

did you know that there are television episodes of npr’s From the Top? it’s a radio show of kids playing classical music. the boys love knowing that it is actually kids playing, and i love hearing the interviews with the kid musicians. we started listening to it in the car on the way home from church and my boys are quite drawn to it.

she dances, i drink

first up, the drink. i am now in some sort of debt to my friend lydia. her love for all things pumpkin led her to a recipe she emailed me this morning.  it’s the kitchn‘s recipe for pumpkin spice latte. i’m a black coffee kind of girl yet i’m always swayed by the combination of the words pumpkin, spice, and latte.  every year i see it pop up on the menu at starbucks and every year i order a small one asking for only half a pump of syrup.  and every year i can’t get over the chemical aftertaste.  sad.  but this recipe actually uses pumpkin puree.  it’s like pie in a cup.  i played with the proportions a bit and here is what i came up with:

1 cup milk
1.5 TBS pumpkin puree
1/2 to 1 tsp sugar
1 TBS vanilla extract
1/4 tsp spice mix (i poured some ground ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon in a little bowl and mixed it up)
pinch of salt
shot of espresso
fresh whipped cream

combine milk through salt in a small saucepan and heat through.  pour into mug and add espresso.  top with whipped cream.

next up, the moves.  i’ve been trying to capture lenna walking on video.  there hasn’t been much luck.  but today i finally got something.  not the best quality but it captures her walking and shaking it up a bit. Florence and the Machine always gets her going.

at the table

tostadas :: lots of them. a simple picture at Buttons Magee a few weeks back made me realize that yes, tostadas are a brilliant way to break out of the pbj lunch rut.  omar’s love of anything made with a crunchy tortilla is so strong that i think our marriage has hit some new level over the past few weeks considering how many times i’ve served them. really, what’s not to love?  you can put just about anything on them. and then as tostada-fate would have it, we were served them for one of our vacation breakfasts piled with beans and poached eggs and mango salsa. so good.

conversation :: elisha could easily be assigned the award for mealtime conversation starter.  at lunch on sunday we ate with some visitors who have been looking for a new church home.  “so, do you like our church the best?” he asks.  awesome.  later someone asked elisha what sports he likes.  “oh, i just don’t have any time for sports.  i have SO MANY chores i have to do.”  ha!  i have no idea where that boy gets such things. i’m not really sure how much dishwasher emptying and table clearing get in the way of his playtime but evidently a lot in his mind.  just wait until he sees what i have in store for him with our fall time chore chart.  and these were only the two conversations i witnessed or heard about.  who knows what was discussed while omar and i weren’t around.

coffee :: recent rainy day nap times have been spent at the table with cups of coffee reading and thinking and writing about what it is i really want this coming school year to look like.  the thoughts have less to do with which books to use or what methods to follow but more with what i want our days to look like and how i want to see my kids and myself grow and stretch ourselves.

summer drinks

a week or so ago i poured some juice into our popsicle mold.  i then forgot to add the sticks and ended up with 10 rather large peach lemonade ice cubes.  on sunday afternoon the boys were involved in an epic toy pick-up drama, lenna was chasing us around with a fever and teething gums, and the heat seemed to penetrate our walls making me fear our a/c would give up.  and it was our anniversary.  so the peach lemonade ice cubes became peach lemonade slushies.  with a hit of celebratory vodka.

i’m also drinking my fair share of cold brewed coffee.  here is my recipe of choice, and their suggestion of sweetened condensed milk and a bit of cardamom has won my no-sugar-in-my-coffee heart over.

tonight i found myself in that awkward in-between time.  omar was out at a meeting.  lenna was in bed.  the boys were beyond tired but it wasn’t quite late enough for me to put them to bed.  so i did what i had to do.  i plopped them on the sofa and let them watch a movie while i opened the refrigerator door so it would block them from seeing me open the freezer door and grab the last of the ice cream.  i then holed up on my bed and lazily read for a bit sort of forgetting about the ice cream thus leading me to have to drink the melted remains.  and there you have summer drink #3.

recipe-ing

there wasn’t much cooking going on the past two months or so.  the lead-up to summer has always gotten me down a bit and the thought of adding more heat to an already steamy house did nothing for the desire to cook and bake. but i’m becoming more accepting of heat, and i’m tired of piecing together stove-less meals.

recipe 1 :: spicy coconut, curry, and sweet potato soup (here you go, ladies)
adapted from at blanchard’s table

1 TBS olive oil
1/2 TBS thai red curry paste (or more)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp minced peeled fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp light brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
5 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp salt
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
1 lime, cut into wedges for serving

in a large pot over medium-low heat, combine oil, curry paste, onion, ginger, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, and brown sugar.  cook until onion is softened, 6 to 8 minutes.  add sweet potatoes, chicken broth, salt, and coconut milk.  raise heat to high and bring to boil.  reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes or until sweet potatoes are just tender.  adjust seasonings and serve with lime wedges on side.

we served this over short grain brown rice with some sauteed shrimp on top.

recipe 2 :: peanut butter cookies from smitten kitchen.  deb and i are on a good run with each other right now, and these didn’t break the cycle.  the recipe is good.  the end result is good.  the cookie dough is good.  my only change was to use all bittersweet chocolate chips.  no peanut butter chips hanging around here.

recipe 3 :: cold-brewed iced coffee.  perhaps it is a bit premature to write about this one.  the grounds are in a jar hanging out with the water as i write. i need to wait until the morning to try it so i’m waiting for the verdict.  it was the new york times preferred recipe and the one used on smitten kitchen, so my hopes are high. ever since my dairy-free stint during lenna’s first 5 months i’ve become used to drinking my coffee black.  the cream wasn’t doing anything for me anymore.  but now…black coffee is starting to lose its magic. here’s hoping this method brings it back.

from cabbage to coffee

the cabbage crisis is slowly resolving itself.  (thanks for all the emails and comments.  like alina said, it was like an excellent public service announcement for those drowning in cabbage.)  i heard my neighbors make a few passing remarks about liking to cook, so yesterday when i was staring at 4(!) heads of cabbage i figured the good and neighborly thing to do would be to give them some. 1 cabbage to the neighbors, 1 cabbage turned into blanched leaves and served with roasted apples at last night’s dinner, 2 cabbages in the waiting for jax and abbie’s recipes kindly left in the comments, and rumors from the farm that the cabbages are done for the season = no more cabbage anxiety.

there has been a lot of talk recently among friends and family at home and church about all of our possessions.  over the past couple of days i have been feeling that a wave is going to hit me soon where i become ruthless about giving away things that we don’t use, cabbage or otherwise.  in times past i would look at something and realize i don’t use it but tell myself i will surely need it someday soon.  like the broken blender.  or the box of jewelry from middle school.  or all the chairs we’ve somehow collected. or the clothes that haven’t been worn since college.  or the multiple coffee makers we have.

someone handy could probably fix the blender.  i know some girls who might love the jewelry. chairs can always find another home, and the clothes could be used by others. but i waver when it comes to the coffee makers.  in order to justify keeping them and to convince myself that i do indeed need these things, i’ve been making a couple of cups a day and rotating the brewers.

la pavoni europiccola.  this one is a hand-me-down from my parents.  they bought it when we lived in italy, and i took possession of it in college.  poor omar was convinced it was just a showpiece as it wasn’t until this past sunday, 9 years after we first met, that i made espresso with it.  the first shot it pulls is great.  after that…well, it sure is pretty to look at.

the bialetti brikka is quick and easy and pretty on the stovetop.  the bialetti mukka is a bit of a sham but omar doesn’t mind that it doesn’t heat the milk to super hot so it will probably stay.

wouldn’t you know, though, that all this coffee making has actually made me want to add to this collection??  i think we need this vacuum brewer.  or a chemex?