Saturday, December 27, 2008

Holiday Card 2008

I survived Christmas! Woo!

Here's this year's holiday card. I decided to send it electronically to all the folks I can and will mail it to the folks for whom I do not have an email address. So if you're a friend or family member that didn't get this in an email, send me your email address!

Also, how'd you find me here? Gah!

Clicky for the big-ness.

Yay! One more holiday task completed!

Maybe tomorrow I can tell you tales of holiday woe. Or just blather on about food. I like food.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy holidays to all!

And to all a good week.

I got nuttin' here, folks. Only sadness and dismay.

And a messy house.

Got folks comin' over tomorrow. I'd best get cookin'.

Have a great holiday, however you celebrate it.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Goodbye brown cow!

Back in April, we bought a quarter of a cow and popped it into our freezer, and it was good.

42 lbs of ground beef

Full o' food.

So good in fact, that we tried all kinds of different recipes throughout the year and enjoyed them all.

Beef stew.

Now, however, we're down to our last few pieces of meat (short ribs). Nine months of eatin'. I'd say that was a pretty good purchase! We shared with friends and family and spread the joy of locally grown, free range beef (and chicken!).

I suspect we'll do it again.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

When the chef is ready...

the crockpot will appear!

Eric and I have been married for 12.5 years and have had our crockpot for that same length of time. In all of those years, I think I used it twice before last year.

This year, I've used it repeatedly for all kinds of yummy things from peach jam, pumpkin butter, and cranberry-apple compote to chili and beef stew. Right now, I've got braised short ribs cooking in it and filling the house with its mouthwatering scent.

Out of all the kitchen gadgets we have and use, I still can't get over the fact that I ignored this one for so long! Forgive me, Slow Cooker of Yumminess!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Night sounds

I was mostly asleep when there was a tremendous Crash! followed by metallic pinging sounds.

My sleep-filled brain translated these noises into "Oh my god! Logan has shaken his crib apart, fallen to the ground and is buried under a piles of crib pieces and so hurt he's not crying!". With this frantic thought in mind, I vaulted out of bed, down the hall and into the twin's room where I flipped on the light and saw --

two sleepy babies looking up at me, wondering why I was waking them up.

They were happy to see me, though, and after a bit of milk went right back to sleep.

Eric pointed out the baby gate that was on the floor in the hallway - apparently a cat had knocked it over. Amazingly enough the sound of the crash didn't wake the babies. I did.

The metallic pinging sound was caused by the frame in Caitlin's room that Logan's crib banging had caused to fall off the shelf and shatter on the floor. In the middle of the night. At the same time the gate fell.

Goooood instincts! Baaaad translation.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Escape artist

It took him 8 months, but it turns out that Logan has finally discovered that he's not actually strapped into his highchair.

We borrowed the chair from friends who had removed the strap for cleaning. As I'm sure you know, they probably put it "someplace safe". I have put many things "someplace safe" and am here to tell you that almost nothing returns from such a safe location. I lost a $700 check once....

Anyway, Emma has always been the one that stood up, turned around and attempt to disembark the highchair express, so we've always had her in the chair with a seatbelt. Logan would just watch, quietly stuffing food into his mouth. Things have changed.

Now, he can't be in there for more than 5 minutes before he stands up, turns around and tries to skootch the chair around the room by lurching around excitedly. He also climbs onto the tray and reaches for Emma (and her food) or the kitty or whatever happens to be passing by.

We've been trying to jury-rig a short term fix while we contact the manufacturer looking for a replacement strap, but so far the luggage strap doesn't seem to deter him and crazy glue seems excessive.

Maybe velcro?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Now that's good parentin'!

What kind of parents take their kids sledding in 1° F weather?

At dusk?

Without snowpants?

Or insulted gloves?

Maniacs! That's who!

Not that I know anyone that would do that...

"We're going to have fun, dammit!"

[Whistles tunelessly and wanders offstage without making eye contact.]

Monday, December 15, 2008

It's not my fault!

It was never my fault. Or my responsibility!


Well, that's a load off my mind. It's just these darned genes. Dang!

See this article in Newsweek.

If there is one thing experts on child development agree on, it is that kids learn best when they are allowed to make mistakes and feel the consequences. So Mom and Dad hold back as their toddler tries again and again to cram a round peg into a square hole. They feel her pain as playmates shun her for being pushy, hoping she'll learn to back off. They let their teen stay up too late before a test, hoping a dismal grade will teach her to get a good night's sleep but believing that ordering her to get to bed right now will not: kids who experience setbacks rather than having them short-circuited by a controlling parent learn not to repeat the dumb behavior.

But not, it seems, all kids. In about 30 percent, the coils of their DNA carry a glitch, one that leaves their brains with few dopamine receptors, molecules that act as docking ports for one of the neurochemicals that carry our thoughts and emotions. A paucity of dopamine receptors is linked to an inability to avoid self-destructive behavior such as illicit drug use. But the effects spill beyond such extremes. Children with the genetic variant are unable to learn from mistakes. No matter how many tests they blow by partying the night before, the lesson just doesn't sink in.
Now 30% of us can abdicate responsibility for our parenting, right? Awesome!

Yeah, riiiight.

The debate still rages on about nature vs. nurture and how much of who you are develops from what you are taught. From my point of view, regardless what what drug therapies they come up with for that 30%, it's still up to the parents to try to help their children. Pay attention. Be available. Provide discipline and boundaries. We've got to try.

Even if our children's genes are stacked against us.

Parenting is hard work. Never let anyone ever tell you otherwise.

Eric and I were talking about the fact that no one tells you what it's really like to be a parent until it's way too late. Mostly that has to do with the fact that everyone's situation is going to be different. The phrase "It's different when it's your kid." is based in reality. It really is different when it's your kid. However, our other thought is that no one would want to have children at all if they knew, in detail, what a serious pain it is.

It's infrequently horribly awful and frequently wonderful and often mildly bad (e.g diapers for years!). It comes and goes, just like any other life experience. Just be prepared to jump on a rollercoaster that never ends. The ride just changes over time until get to be a grandparent.

Then a whole new ride begins.

I'm looking forward to that.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Holiday Card Season

Must be time to go huntin' up some pictures for the card season.

Dunno how this year's is gonna turn out. I am currently reading "Empty" on the Creativity gauge.

Any suggestions?

Still not feelin' that Xmas cheer thing that's supposed to be going around. Maybe it's the decided lack of winter weather. How do people in CA manage it without snow?!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Tickull! Tickull! Tickull!

I was nursing the twins today and Emma had her foot up by Logan's face (because where else should she put her foot except in her brother's face?) when he reached over and said:

"Tickull! Tickull! Tickull!" while tickling her foot and then laughed.

I was stunned.

Is he the cutest thing ever or what?!

To Bail or Not to Bail

Personally, I vote for Not.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Ba! Ba! Ba!

The sounds of water filling the tub are coming from the bathroom. In the bedroom, the twins are losing their minds.

"Ba! Ba! Ba!" they exclaim, while pounding their chests in an excited version of the symbol for "bath". They desperately want to have a bath with Caitlin.

"No, no. That's Caitlin's bath. You had one already."

"Ba! Ba! Ba!" they continue pounding their chests. Logan goes to the door and tries to look into the bathroom, but is held back by the gate across the bedroom doorway.

"No bath for you!" Emma looks devastated and pounds her chest more.


"But...? Youalready -- okay. OK. You win."

I open the gate and both twins rush into the bathroom and watch the water filling the tub. Caitlin suddenly has company.

Apparently I've created bath maniacs.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Cake as Performance Art

The frosting was giving me fits, today.

Apparently I can make very nice frosting if it requires meticulous temperature taking, whisking and coddling, but if it's supposed to be a "quick" icing? I somehow manage to fail miserably at it, have the chocolate seize or the caramel go grainy and have a miserable time.

All this when my creativity is on the line and will soon be seen and judged by friends and family. It's like performance art that you get to eat! I felt like it was a particularly grueling show today.


Because I made two cakes today for Eric's birthday party this evening. One chocolate-pumpkin-pecan cake with chocolate frosting and a secondary "backup" cake, when I determined that some number of invitees were likely going to be allergic to- or not very fond of- the chocolate-pumpkin-pecan combination. So I made a simple yellow cake with simple chocolate icing for them.

The big fancy cake? The icing dropped below the temperature that made it happy and fluffy and it became fudgy. Not inedible, but fudgy instead of creamy. Desperate, I used a different recipe for the other cake's icing which turned out a lot better.

Next birthday cake I'll probably go back to buttercream frosting. More difficult? Yes. But it turns out properly each time.

So much for doing things the "easy" way!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Good gravy!

OK, here's a question for you: Is gravy really worth all that time it takes to make?

Yesterday, on a lark*, I decided to make myself my very own turkey dinner. It having been Thanksgiving here in the states just last week, this may be a No Brainer to most of you. However, I ate not at Chez Hatchet, but at Chez Hatchet-Inlaws and the food was fantastic! But no turkey. It being turkey season, I wanted to try out the recipe in my Big Ole Book o' Food and so I commanded Eric to go thither and fetch me one.

He called from the supermarket, all excited, because since it was after Thanksgiving they were on sale. How many did I want for 39 cents each?! I had to burst his bubble and tell him I wanted no part of the mass-produced CAFO (Confined animal feeding operation) birds and that I wanted one raised humanely, naturally and sustainably and that yes it was going to cost more money. He grumbled but gave in to my conscious eaters morality and bought a bird I would be proud to eat. I'm not ready to be a vegetarian by a long shot, but the animals I do eat I want treated well before they are processed.

The 12 lb bird he brought home was duly defrosted in the fridge for two days, brined for 4 hours (After having brined several chickens and now a turkey I would not only highly recommend it to you, I would suggest that to skip brining is to miss out entirely on a seriously yummy poultry experience.), dried out over night, then roasted for 2 hours, rested for 20 and it was delicious.

Two hours! Did you notice how little time that was? I don't know how long turkeys are normally roasted for, but this seemed fast to me. The key is flipping it over and over, exposing each side to the appropriate amount of heat for just long enough. My recipe has you start with a 400 degree oven with the back exposed, then one wing/thigh, then the other wing/thigh and finally the breast. You baste it when you pull it out to flip it and that's it.

I also made a fresh cranberry sauce with orange peel and Grand Marnier and a roasted Kuri squash lightened with a lot of butter and a little salt. After it was all done, Caitlin and I sat down and feasted. Eric was off doing some sort of networking thing and missed out on the initial feeding frenzy, but if Caitlin's opinion was anything to go by that turkey was a hit!

After I'd packed Caitlin off to bed, I decided that I'd give the gravy-making a try. You know what? That gravy took about as long, if not longer to make than the turkey itself. I know, I know! If I'd been home earlier to start the gravy when I was supposed to, it would have seemed pretty fast. As it was, I started actively cooking the turkey at about 5 pm and didn't finish gravy making until 10:30 pm.

However, according to Eric and Heather, that's some fiiiine gravy. Not normally being a huge gravy fan myself, I liked it a lot, but I'm left wondering this: if my turkey is all lovely and moist from the brining, do I really need gravy? Isn't the whole point of gravy to moisten a dessicated bird?

Maybe I'll just freeze the gravy I made and trot it out next year?

[Evil grin]

* My larks are very very large, it would seem.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Twelve Hours

The most amazing thing happened yesterday!

We put the twins to bed around 6:30 pm after having stuffed them full of food and especially rice (They went crazy for it and ate and ate like little piggies!) then they nursed the tiniest possible amount and went to sleep. I fully expected them to wake up between 10 and 11 pm for one last nursing before it became Eric's turn to fend them off in the middle of the night but...the cry for milk never came.

They slept.

And they slept.

And they slept some more until it was 6:30 am and I was exploding with milk. When they finally woke, I dragged myself out of bed, tired but grateful. It was only when I got back into bed that I found out what time it was and that they'd slept for 12 hours. Woo!

If only I'd gone to bed at 10:30 as I had planned! Instead, since I kept waiting for them to wake up, I wasted all of that sleeping time! Aiee!

Tonight I think I'll try harder to get in bed before midnight. I might even get some real sleep!

Is it a trick? Is it a phase? Is it the beginning of something wonderful?

Oh please! Oh please! Ohpleaseohpleaseohplease!

Updated to add: It was a trick! For woe is us! The screaming started at 1:30 am and didn't stop. Then Caitlin woke up (she never has before) and started screaming for the screaming to stop. Strangely enough, that didn't work. Then there was the screaming for the person with the milk who was attempting to hide from all of the screaming but couldn't. Finally, the Milk-Giver arrived and

the screaming



Monday, December 01, 2008

Fourteen Months

A few days...and some Thanksgivin' action!

I'm sorry about all of the radio silence this last week, but between preparing the Farm School business plan, baking 2 desserts for twelve hours (That's right - twelve!), traveling into the mountains for Thanksgiving and general twin chasing, it's been hard to scrape up a few moments in which to type.

Heck, I didn't even take very many pictures on Thanksgiving day, even though it was also the twins 14 month anniversary. If I shot 10 pictures, I'd be surprised. So busy!


Anyway, the twins are also staying busy being terribly cute and working on their language skills, both sign and verbal. Eric has been working on teaching them "sleepy" and today, Emma used that sign on Heather and I to tell us she wanted a nap. Mind you, I had no idea Eric had been teaching her that sign until she did it so I was completely boggled when it happened.

And it was so cuuuuute!

Emma had been sitting in Heather's lap, demanding a book be read to her when she got up, walked over to her crib and said, "Ungh!" Then she walked back over to Heather and sat down in her lap, put her hand on the side of her face and tilted her head over into her hand. It happened so fast, we would have missed it if we hadn't been looking right at her. Then I asked if she was tired and she lit up and dropped her head over to the side again, onto Heather's chest. The child wins major points for being tired in the cutest possible way.

Then (Don't hate me Ali!) I picked up both Emma and Logan, popped them both into their cribs with their blankets, walked out and shut the door to nary a peep from either of them.


Maybe that was to make up for all the screaming last night? (Naps might be easy, but sleeping through the night still ain't happening over here.) Who knows!

They are both working on new words. They like "duck" very much and will also quack for you, if they don't feel like saying duck. They also say "doggie" and "puppy" and will pant whenever they see something that looks kinda-sorta-possibly like a dog. Like a gecko, for instance. Or a bear. Or a kitty! Almost everything is a doggie. They still say "kitty", or "kiddee" as we translate it around these here parts. Eric swears he's taught Emma to meow, but I haven't heard it yet. They still say "Caitlin" and are changing over from "Mom-mom-mom" to "Mommy", a very distinct difference. They are very clear about "Dahhh-dee" and Emma whispers "star" when you point one out to her.

There might be more words that I just haven't worked out yet, but those are the ones I know offhand.

They are madly in love with the Doggies book and anything else they can get their hands on to have us read. Logan loves stealing books from Emma and then dodging her attempts to get it back. He laughs hysterically while sitting abruptly, changing directions and crawling off.

Caitlin taught them a fun new game by taking an empty orange box and turning it into a car. Emma will now get in and out of the "car" by herself and wait for Caitlin to push her all around upstairs. Logan just likes to push the box around, but not really ride in it himself. They scream with laughter when Caitlin is in a good mood and being crazy for them. They love to dance with her to music, Logan especially.

They love the "C is for Cookie" song that Dan and Laurie had sent them for their birthday (Thanks!) and will bop up and down when listening to it. They didn't seem to like the Elmo song, though. Perhaps it was all the reference to oneself in third person that bothered them? We find it very pretentious of Elmo.

Oh and it turns out that the twins love pumpkin cheesecake.
Pumpkin cheesecake

(Nice segway, huh?)

Which is what I brought for Turkey Day. Only this year, there was no turkey! Instead we had slow roasted prime rib roast and a spiral sliced ham, both of which were wonderful! (Sorry Matt!) However, since I made a fantastic cranberry-apple chutney, I need some poultry to go with it, so I have a small turkey that I'm brining as we speak! We'll be eating turkey for at least a week!

As I said, I'd made two desserts for the celebration: spiced pumpkin cheesecake with Bourbon whipped cream and the Dutch Apple Pie that I had threatened to make previously.
Dutch apple pie

I liked it, it was pretty good, but I liked the standard apple pie a lot better. Funnily enough, Eric liked the Dutch apple better. Unfortunately for him, that sucker is a lot more work than a regular pie, so it probably won't happen again unless I'm specifically asked for it. Yes, I do realize that the cheesecake actually is a longer process, but it's sorta easier. Or maybe I'm just more familiar with it, but either way, I'm stickin' with the cheesecake. (Last year's cake is pictured here. Hey! This time last year I was still being thrown up on! Yay to no more of that!)

So we hung out, played with all of the kids, Caitlin had too much fun with her cousin Max to notice the twins were eating off of two or three different plates (They definitely ate more than she did!) and had a great day.

No drama, great weather, lovely drive, fabulous company.


How did your assorted Thurdays go? For those of you for whom it wasn't a national holiday, what's your favorite celebratory food? You do have a favorite celebratory food, dontcha?

Logan shows off how much he loves whipped cream and waffles.

Emma loves whipped cream too, and isn't afraid to show it by diving face first into a mound on her tray.
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