Friday, March 27, 2009

Oatmeal Nutmeg Scones

These scones are nubbly, buttery, and not-too-sweet, making them just as at home topped with jelly as with cheese. The oats add a little bit of texture and wholesomeness, while the freshly grated nutmeg adds just a little peppery hit to the flavor.

Be sure not to overwork the butter -- I keep my unsalted butter frozen in the freezer and then grate it straight into the flour mixture. That way you have easy, even distribution, and it takes almost no time to work it into the flour. (I do this for all recipes that require cutting butter in -- biscuits, etc.)

Also, if you don't have buttermilk, you can substitute roughly 1/3 to 1/2 plain yogurt and half milk.


Oatmeal Nutmeg Scones
Recipe from Dori Greenspan's "Baking: from my home to yours".

1 large egg
1/2 cup cold buttermilk
1-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons (10 tablespoons) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (or grated right onto flour mixture)

To make:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 400 deg. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.

Stir the egg and buttermilk together.

Whisk the flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg together in a large bowl. Drop in the butter and, using your fingers, toss to coat the pieces of butter with flour. Quickly, working with your fingertips or a pastry blender, cut and rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is pebbly. You’ll have pea-sized pieces, pieces the size of oatmeal flakes, and pieces the size of everything in between – and that’s just right.

Pour the egg and buttermilk mixture over the dry ingredients and stir with a fork just until the dough, which will be wet and sticky, comes together. Don’t overdo it.

Still in the bowl, gently knead the dough by hand, or turn it with a rubber spatula 8 – 10 times. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide it in half. Working with one piece at a time, pat the dough into a rough circle that’s about 5 inches in diameter, cut it into 6 wedges and place on the baking sheet. (At this point, the scones can be frozen on the baking sheet, then wrapped airtight. Don’t defrost before baking – just add about 2 minutes to the baking time.)

Bake for 20 – 22 minutes, or until their tops are golden and firmish. Transfer them to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before serving, or wait for scones to cool to room temperature.

Oh bother.

I'm tired of getting sick. I'm tired of being sick. And I'm sooooo tired of these "hey! Guess what?!! Yup, sick again!!" updates, but unfortunately...yes, I caught the stomach bug too. Bleah. Thankfully, I have a few recipes typed up for you that I've been meaning to share for a while, so, while I don't actually want to think about food right now, it won't hurt me any to share some pre-written stuff. Post to follow!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Chocolate and aprons and sick little guys

Elijah and Andrew are now sick. Andrew doesn't have a fever, but has been visiting the bathroom more often than usual (I'll spare the details), and Elijah is feeling hot and has started throwing up. I kept finding Elijah asleep in different places in the house. Poor little dude.

I've determined that they do not lick the floor in childcare, but instead must be eating snacks off the bottoms of their shoes. (Sort-of related side-note: at a restaurant a few weeks ago Lavella dropped a few french fries under the table. A little later I was letting her walk around, and suddenly noticed her picking up the french fries WITH HER LIPS. ~sigh~)

Lavella appears to be pretty much done with this sick business, but her whining has gotten so terrible that she will now just stand in the middle of the floor and scream, louder and louder and louder until I do something about it (which I can't always do right away -- sadly, although I now have four children, I still seem to only have two arms)

It hasn't been a completely hopeless day though. This morning we made bread and granola (it seems that much of our "homeschool" these days are home ec. related...because that's what I'm doing all day, but I digress.)

Lavella was pointing to the Pink and Green Cake apron when we were suiting up to bake, and I thought she wanted me to wear it. Not so.

A. Susie, did you realize it was this adjustable?

For whatever reason, I haven't made granola since Jonah was born, and I'd forgotten how much I like my recipe. Today I added some chopped up dark chocolate to my bowl, and it was amazing. (Anytime that you can sneak chocolate into your breakfast, you should.) (Although possibly not into your children's breakfast.) (Unless you want a Very Exciting Day.) (So maybe you do want that.) (Why am I still using parenthasis?)

I found a local babysitter, at long last. She's the 18-year-old daughter of a friend I met at the women's Bible study on post, and lives a few streets over from me. She'll be babysitting them for the first time soon, so Andrew and I tested Jonah out with the bottle to get him babysitter-ready.

He immediately started sucking and drank the bottle like it was no big deal. What a good little guy!

Monday, March 23, 2009


Lavella's still pretty sick today, although thankfully no more puking. I had to wash an entire load of hers and my laundry after yesterday.

Here she is, feeling pretty badly about herself:

I know, poor babe. But seriously, the whining is out of control. Through adversity, I learn patience. "SERENITY NOW!!!" (To quote an episode tagline from Seinfeld. Season 9?)

OK, enough of that. How about some pics from some happier days last week?

The children were helping me with the baking (of course), and Elijah just couldn't resist the warm, freshly milled flour. This sequence immediately follows eating a huge mouthful of it.

Since the box of aprons arrived, there's been a renewed Apron Interest.

Andrew's wearing a Museum Of Burnt Foods apron that Pete and Jill gave me a while back, and Elijah's got a hand-me-down from Rachel (which Grandma Claire bought for her when she was smaller).

Lavella, of course, is not one to be left out. Here she is in her "neighbor" ("won't you be, won't you be, please won't you be my neighbor?")

This "neighbor"/apron used to belong to my mom when she was a little girl, then to me, possibly to several of my sisters, definitely owned by Rachel, and then finally passed down to Lavella. I have memories of wearing this while cooking with my mom and grandparents in Tenafly (spell?).

Jonah has started sucking his thumb.

There's not much I can do about it. He still begrudginly accepts his pacifier when we're out and stuff, but when he's alone in his crib, in goes his little thumb. It's terribly cute, and it does allow him to comfort himself and fall back to sleep if he wakes up at the wrong time, so it's sort of good...just hope he doesn't do this as long as I did (till I was 5-1/2!) and need orthadontic work. I'm seeing dollar signs.

Here he is just up from his nap, sleepy-sweet and smelling of baby sweat and the lambskin he sleeps on:

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Today Lavella woke up throwing up and with a terrible case of...well, there's been some rather horrific diaper changes. It's best not to speak of it. She's vomited 4 times now, eaten once, and she and I have changed clothing all through the day to keep up with her output. Pretty much she just wants to be in my arms non-stop, and she's taken two naps, since she's also running a fever. At the moment she's collapsed against my chest, sleeping. Poor babe. I'll lay her down in her crib again, because I hear Jonah waking up now. I need more arms.

Moving on to more pleasant topics:

For quite a while now I've been longing for a garden. Unfortunately, the living situations we'll be living in for the next bunch of years will not likely lend themselves to gardening and the like. This year, however, I discovered a company selling self-irregating pots (The Garden Patch), and realized that it was the answer to my dilemma. A garden that can move with me! Perfect.

We got the pots in the mail a few weeks ago.

(This ponytail slays me)

And these seeds from Gurney's.

On Monday and Tuesday we visited a nearby nursery and purchased 13 bags of this soil. I can only wonder what the neighbors thought as they peered out their windows at me and watched me carry bag after bag inside. Up two flights of stairs.

I very nearly bought a bunch of bags of manure instead (I had a stuffy nose and was working quickly to load our cart), but thankfully Andrew's stellar nose sniffed out the problem before we got to the checkout.

During naptime on both days, Andrew and I worked at assembling the pots, and got them all planted. (We weren't able to fit zucchini, brussels sprouts and broccoli, but managed to get everything else in!)

(Click on the picture to get to the page on Flickr, then hover your mouse over the pic for notes on what and where we planted everything.)

When Elijah woke from his nap, he helped Andrew carry gallons of water across the house from the kitchen to the sun-room to fill the reservoirs under the pots. They probably worked, happily, for an hour or more, until they had exhausted themselves. Such good little workers. They were terribly excited that they could actually help with something.

Our salad greens and spinach have already showed their little leafy starts, and the boys are very proud of their job of checking on the reservoirs every day to see if they need topping off.

We will eventually move these outside to the porch. I'm so excited to be able to have herbs and some vegetables literally outside my kitchen window. It may not be organic (yet), but you can't beat the distance from "farm" to table.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Storytime Blanket

Hey mom, I finally finished that blanket!

Little guy says it's satisfactory.

This blanket was knit mostly on our trip to Italy last year, so it brought back wonderful memories as Andrew and I pinned it out for the final step in this project.

As usual, details and pictures abound on the fiber arts blog.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Of cheese and wurst and a farmers market

Today was bright and sunny -- cold, but not bitterly so. We bundled up and headed out to the Friday farmer's market in the town square.

This is the pedestrian shopping area near the square. I love this section of town.

We made our Most Important visit to the cheese truck there. The lady who runs the truck was excited to see us again (we don't venture out all that much in the winter), and, as always, offered extras to the children. She asked if they would prefer cheese or sausage (they have these cold sausages that you can just eat as a snack, just as it is).

I translated to my boys, and their response was violently negative. "I just want Gouda", Andrew whined. "I DON'T. want. her. cheese." said Elijah through gritted teeth. When a stranger (even just a semi-stranger like this woman...or sometimes just a Person Who Is Not Mommy) tries to engage them in conversation or offers them something, their responses are horrendous. (The other day on the way to childcare at the womens' Bible study, I overheard Elijah telling Andrew "Now make sure you don't let the ladies unzip your jacket for you." Oh, the horrors.) Not really sure what to do about it. I hope they just grow out of this stage.

We picked up a few soft pretzels at the bakery, and then, at the children's insistence, we had our first eis (ice cream) of the season at a nearby cafe.

I couldn't bear the thought eating something so cold, so I got hot chocolate.

It's just barely sweet, but entirely delicious, with whipped cream melting into the top

Jonah slept while we ate, wrapped like a jelly-roll in the stroller, but then after a bit he woke up screaming, so we made a quick exit.

It was good to have fun with the children. Sometimes I feel like it's "all work, no play", and that I'm kind of boring to them, not spending enough time doing happy stuff. As we sat around the table at the cafe though, I was able to be completely focused on them. They're such funny, smart little people, and I don't want to miss this time in their lives from lack of interest or letting myself be overly distracted by all of my responsibilities and other interests.

Once we got home we had a nice lunch with the pretzels, and cheese we'd purchased, and found that the cheese lady had also tucked a veal wurst (sausage) in the package with our cheese.

I cut it into pieces to give to everyone; Lavella took one look at hers and said "It's NAKED!" The boys found this hilarious, and, well, I probably don't need to tell you where their conversation went from there.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Kick ass aprons

Recently, my Aunt Susie (well, Greg's Aunt, actually, but I've decided she's my aunt too) asked if she could commission me to weave a shawl for her. I, however, am not overly fond of commissions. I've done so in the past, and have never felt entirely satisfied with the exchange. How do you put a price on the hours of your life that you give to a project? What I really like to do is to give my work as gifts to people, choosing the recipients very carefully according to their understanding and appreciation of what I do. I have been known to knit-starve a person for a goodly length of time until they are appropriately desperate for, say, a nice hat or something, and this works well to up the person's perceived value of the project. But I digress.

A commission was out of the question, but Aunt Susie is an incredible seamstress. Her workmanship and finishing techniques are impeccable, and she has a talent for throwing together colors and shapes, and also knows how to design on the fly. I've been dreaming of beautiful aprons for a good while now (largely due to this site), but just haven't gotten around to purchasing fabric and pulling out my sewing machine, because...I'm not very good at it yet. Maybe I could be, but I just haven't put in the time. So I don't want to do it until I'm good. It seems that this approach doesn't produce many (any) aprons, so I proposed a swap, of sorts. An apron for a shawl! An apron that's custom designed just for me! But I want to be surprised! Well. Aunt Susie thought that this was fine, but unfair to me. She decided that instead of one apron, she'd sew me 5.

While I was still in the planning stages of the shawl, she whipped through all 5, and look at what I found in the mail this week:

I cannot begin to describe how perfect these are for me.

The various styles,

the fabric choices,

and the trim! I have an unhealthy love for excessive trim.

There's a sense of humor along with a whole bunch of adorable style wrapped up in this set. And the true mark of a good collection? I can't choose a favorite. They're all so gorgeous/useful/sexy/fun in their own way. I would have to say that Aunt Susie totally hit her mark. These aprons are kick-ass.

The yarn is on it's way here for the shawl. It'll be on the loom as soon as it arrives!

You can find out more about these different apron styles and why she made the choices that she did on her blog post about them. Also, in case anyone suddenly feels the need for a kick-ass apron of their own, yes, she does occasionally do commission work.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Three Months Old (a birth story)

Three months ago today, I gave birth to my little sunshine boy.

Photo by Andrew

When I posted the birth annoucement, I had promised a birth story for those of you who wished to know the details, but I've been a tiny bit busy...and somehow forgot.

Photo by Andrew

Today, however, Jonah is exactly 3 months old. In honor of this milestone, here is the story at long last:

On December 18th, I woke up at 6:00 in the morning with hard cramps. I'd had a very spicy Indian lunch the day before, and it was apparent that it had worked it's magic. I was able to fall back asleep, but then noticed that I was waking up about every 10 minutes with a hard cramp. At 8:00 I finally got out of bed, and determined, as the cramping had definitely taken a turn towards contractions, that I was in labor.

I woke Greg up, and called Alexa, the midwife. I experienced a contraction while on the phone with her, and she determined that she should probably come to my house immediately. (Some of you will remember that last time with Lavella, I accidentally delivered without Alexa, so she knew that there wasn't any time to waste!)

Things progressed very quickly from there. It went from "this hurts but we can still talk about stuff" to "no one bother me because I think I'm going to die". The midwife and Greg both did pressure points on me to alleviate the pain some, but it was still the worst pain I can ever remember experiencing. (I think this every time though, so it's probably been pretty consistently That Bad each time. Just guessing.)

Greg, with crazy multi-tasking skills, was able to run back and forth across the house, alternately putting on videos for the children, answering their calls for breakfast, snacks, whatever, shuttling Lavella back out of the room several times (she kept coming to me wanting to be held and comforted, because it was disturbing her that I was distressed. Oh baby.), and pressing on the base of my back to help with the contractions.

At 9:45 after about 1 hour and 45 minutes of active labor and 3 minutes of pushing, I gave birth to Jonah, on the computer room floor. Again.

So Happy Three Months Old, little dude. I'm so glad that I get to be your Mommy; to watch you grow, and discover who you are.

(Bathroom courtesy of Poppy and Nana)

Everyone here loves you like crazy. You're a cool guy.

We're so happy to have you as part of our family.

(For bigger versions of all of these pictures, click on any of them, or click here.)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The promise of spring

Thank you for all of your comments the other day. Isn't it great to know that other people's children do the same thing? My gosh. That entire day was pretty funny though, in retrospect. Oh, the healing power of laughter.

Yesterday was surprisingly warm and sunny (I think it was in the 50's), so we took a walk to the nearest playground. This was our first walk all together on our own since Jonah was born.

I had to stop to take a look at them all before we left. Hey! I have a lot of kids! (Am I old enough to have that many?! I'm pretty sure I'm only 19 or 20-ish...)

As is always the case with small children, our walk was slow and peppered with stops to look at things, but if it had not been for the boys, I would never have been able to notice these beautiful Snowdrops (?) blooming:

Or this brilliantly green patch of grass:

(Elijah has been perfecting his "candid photo" face -- Greg does the same thing. I'll be waiting for the face to change to some more attractive expression, and all the while, they've frozen in the oddest "caught at a bad time" look on purpose. Terrible. My question: how does a 3-year-old come up with this?)

There is nothing like spring; to me, no other season can compare to the joy of newness and growing, brand new tender plants poking through previously frozen soil. The air smells different at this time of year, fresh and clear.

By the time we'd reached the playground (took us about 30 minutes even though it would take an adult 15 minutes at most), they were so warm that they took their jackets off to run around. They got cold after a bit, but the promise of spring is definitely in the air.

I felt like my brain was rinsed clean, and it was so good for the children to be able to run free.

Before anyone mentions it -- no, I didn't think Lavella was big enough for this slide. However, I was trapped on a bench nursing Jonah, rendered powerless. Suddenly she was at the top...and then sliding down.

Her comment: "That was funny!" Yeah, little girl, very funny. This was repeated about a hundred times. Apparently, she's big enough.

Seriously though look at her face. Try telling that little person to stop doing anything. It takes guts to resist her, I tell you.

This is generally considered bad playground etiquette, so I was glad that we were the only ones there that day; it's the boys' favorite way to get to the top.

All was not roses of course -- there was a minor incident which involved Lavella making a dash through the gate for the road and being virtually tackled by Elijah. Although he probably saved her life, the blood curdling screams she offered up to the neighbors probably suggested otherwise. When we got home, she created another scene in the stairwell that is best not remembered, but suffice to say it brought out more than one of the neighbors, one of whom thankfully scooped her up and just carried her up, no questions asked.

After this week of varied struggles and joy, I began to wonder: what would the brilliant, gorgeous moments be without the bitter? Without the struggles of toddler wrangling, and preschool rebellion, and moments where I'm Pretty Sure I Might Just Die Right Here, how sweet would the lovely moments really be? In the end, I have four beautiful, healthy and strong children that I love more than my own life. Even on the worst of days, I have it pretty good. I am blessed beyond anything that I could hope to deserve.

With my head full of these musings, today has been a day for spinning.

When I want to quiet my mind and just be, feeling the tug and spring of wool passing through my fingers is a perfect pastime.

This isn't related to anything, but here's a picture of a sweater that I've just finished this week (posting this especially for my mom):

I was knitting it when she and Rachel were here. For those of you who can't get enough pictures (!!), you can go here for more.