September 30, 2011

School is cool.

Noah started playgroup yesterday.
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We've both been dreading it for a long time, but we both think it's for the best. Noah and I love each other, but we are a little too dependent on one another and a little too reticent to expand our social circles. It's for the best that we have some time apart. No matter how much we both cry. Initially.   Then we realize we're both where we should be and that we'll see each other again soon.
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September 26, 2011

Apples.

Yesterday we made our second attempt at a PYO farm - this time we went with our standard and our favorite, Garsons. We had our choice of raspberries, plums, sweetcorn, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, khol rabi, and apples. Loads and loads of apples.








September 23, 2011

Snail tale.

I don't normally stop for snails. I think they're gross. Especially when I accidentally step on one. In my bare feet.
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Today, however, I was hanging out the washing and saw this little guy - the tiniest snail I've ever seen.
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And, well, just because you're small and gross is no reason you can't have your 15 minutes (or 8 seconds)...
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video
(Much more fun viewed full-screen)

September 21, 2011

Quince.

This is a quince. 
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You probably already knew that. I didn't. I thought they looked like little figs. They don't.
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This is what you do with a quince.
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You can also do all these things. I didn't find that out until just now, though, so it's a little late for me and the bumpy dude up top. Let me know if you have a go, though.

September 19, 2011

PYO.

We took a family trip to a Pick Your Own farm yesterday. Lots of fun, sunshine and fresh air. Sadly, though, no crops.








September 16, 2011

Unattended children.

I am a parent.
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Most of my friends are parents.
My sister is a parent and my Mom and Dad are parents.
My in-laws are parents. In fact, even my husband is a parent.
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We are not bad people. I really like us. I really like our kids.
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Before my life as a parent I was a non-parent.
My brother is a non-parent. All my siblings-in-law are non-parents. A lot of my cousins are non-parents. My BFF was once a non-parent. Some of the parents I know are, at heart, non-parents.
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I like you guys, too. You're good people.
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However, what rankles me is our sometimes differing approach to Kids In Public. I recognize I'm coming at this from the parent view, but I am a fair and level-headed person, so bear with me.
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Let me dispel a few myths...

  • Children are not out to ruin your day. You're just another non-kid; if you don't want to play, you don't exist in their eyes.
  • I do not feed my kids espresso and white sugar just as we head out the door. I only give them that as they're going to bed. 
  • When they cry or whimper on an airplane, I am much more distressed over it than you are. And, no, they can not have chewing gum.
  • I am not intentionally trying to hog the sidewalk / shopping aisle / bus with my buggy; If I could make it smaller or even a non-necessity, I would.
  • I cannot stop a full-blown tantrum. Neither can you. Neither can Mother Theresa, Barney, and Supernanny combined.
  • When a tantrum is in full-force it's also very difficult to remove myself + my kid from the situation. The easiest exit would be for the ground to swallow us up, but despite my fervent wishes that has yet to happen.
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...and confirm some truths:


  • Kids are loud and sticky.
  • Kids don't sit still.
  • Kids drive their parents and other parents crazy, too.
  • I, and all parents I know, are just doing our best.
  • Not every place is kid-appropriate.
  • Not every place needs to be kid-appropriate.
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So.
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My local coffee shop - which is in a residential area, across the street from a school and adjacent to a park - has opted to post a sign asking parents to mind their children, as there are hot drinks being ushered around. Fine - a 100% understandable and reasonable request. Kids running around a small space isn't a good idea and I don't want anyone getting scalded either.
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What I can't understand is why said coffee shop would post their intentions to *Facebook* before actually posting the sign in their shop. Did they need to bolster their confidence in such a demanding business decision with a lot of "Likes"? Was a particular employee having a bad day? Also, why such a discrepancy between the actual, shop sign and the Facebook post? Are they concerned with ambiance or scalding...? The tone of their FB post leads me to believe the former. The tone of the responses reiterates this. My own response is to question whether or not I'm really welcome - even with well-behaved children - to get a coffee here. 
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People will be people and I can't change this. But I might have to change where I get coffee. Maybe someplace with a greater sense of humor.
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Photo courtesy of john-only.tumblr.com

September 15, 2011

Cuckoo for conkers.

Translation: conkers = horse chestnuts = buckeyes.
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Buckeyes...?
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Hold on... not this kind:
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This kind:
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And they are ripe for the picking, which is exactly what Noah and I did this afternoon. I don't know why, but there's some satisfaction in clearing the grounds of your local park with non-edible, wholly useless nuts. Unless - thank you Wikipedia - I want to make acetone or whiten my hemp. Which I do not.
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Reading further into the expansive and impressive Wikipedia article, I'd like to also thank them for suggesting that "horse-chestnuts can be used to make jewelry using the conkers as beads". Hello... My Aunt Barb, like, invented that. Want your conker edible? No problem, my Aunt Sondra has totally nailed the recipe for it's confectionery perfectionary. Central Ohioans have also figured out to turn this useless nut into a university mascot:
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Brutus in Austin, TX before a football game against the Texas Longhorns
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I'll let you decide who's the nut and who's the mascot.
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September 14, 2011

One moment.

I would have also liked to call this post "Rookie's use two hands" - that's what made me stop and snap the pic. I loved the look of Noah holding his card upright, with both hands. He held it this way the entire 10 minute walk to the post office. He wasn't taking any chances with his masterpieces.
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I also contemplated writing about and posting a video of our house from 6:00 - 6:30 PM this evening. People don't believe me when I say boys are harder than girls, but this video proves my case. It was a serious situation of the patients overtaking the madhouse, drugging the doctor, and pillaging the village. I'll save that one for another day, when I *really* need your sympathy.

September 13, 2011

Phun with Photoshop

I'm reading, I'm practicing, I'm presenting.
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Be kind. I'm still learning.
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Have I mentioned I've been jamming...?
This makes me think of an American Gothic-style family portrait.
Not 100% happy with this. More patience might have led to better results.<BR>
Taken with my pocket camera. Pulling out the big guns isn't always an option.
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September 12, 2011

Arting.

Noah and I arted today.
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I make my own cards. (I know - major groan.) I'm not particularly great and I don't have the patience to get better, but I persevere because it's fun. (Double groan!) Today's projects included cards for two Super soon-to-be-three year olds, a friend who's crazy enough to have a third child, and my Mom who's turning 39 again. Noah contributed by crafting three beautifully sticky cards to Dad, Nana and Grandad.
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It makes a big difference having only one kid at home. I can't even contemplate getting out my art box with both boys around.

September 11, 2011

I was...

at a training course in Tampa, Florida.
Simply, that day changed things and changed people.

September 10, 2011

In miniature.

My fridge is on the fritz. Actually, it's been suffering for a long while; I've only chosen now to acknowledge and rectify the problem. Unfortunately, the only fridges we can find to fit into the existing space are smaller than our current refrigerator.
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You're welcome for this gratuitous peek into my life
Smaller.
Than.
Our.
Current.
Refrigerator.
[sigh]
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It's getting to me. It's always gotten to me. My dolls house feels too tight - like a rough, wool, turtle-neck sweater that you thought was a good idea to try on, but now are struggling get back up over your head. And you're starting to sweat. 
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The average floor space in British homes is the smallest in Europe and less than half the size of American homes. My first London apartment was 440 sq feet; our current home is 1,300 sq ft. For reference, my parents home in Ohio is roughly 3,000 and my in-laws in Ireland is about 2,500. Our house was built in 1860. We have three bedrooms, but in practice it's really only two + a study/guestroom. The master bedroom is comfortable, but not big enough for anything more than a double bed (no Super Kings for us). Donal and I share a sock drawer not out of marital love, but necessity. Elliot and Noah share a small room, a closet, and a dresser - one drawer each. 


We all share the main bathroom. 
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My aforementioned white goods are small. My fridge invokes pity from my BFF and pictures of my oven/range inspired empathetic comments from her Mom. In truth, I have to carefully buy my holiday turkey not based on the number of servings required, but whether or not the bird will fit in the oven. In the same vein, I've had to alter my favorite brownie recipe because the pan that Fabulous Ina calls for just doesn't fit in my miniature oven. My washing machine can hold a maximum of 5 towels and I don't even own a tumble dryer. (My washing machine pretends to be a dryer - it promotes the clothes from sopping to moist. And helps bread rise!)
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My back garden is... quaint. 
My front garden is... well... better than it was last year.
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Of course this is just my situation. Lots of people in London have smaller homes and lots have bigger. We could buy a bigger place, or refit our kitchen, but it just doesn't warrant the hit to the wallet and the mental toll. For, as small as everything is, my house is clean, cosy and more than livable. I hope it's a warm, inviting and comfortable place for family and friends. Until I can justify my dream home, I'll just continue having one-log fires, baking one tray of cupcakes at a time, dragging in chairs when guests come for dinner, storing less, eating more, drip-drying clothes, and buying small turkeys...
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September 9, 2011

Jar, label and eat.

Today's project: Ketchup (Catsup? Catchup?) and Spiced Plum Chutney.
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I don't imagine, in any way, that this ketchup will replace Heinz 57 in the eyes of my children - especially as this recipe calls for 1/4 c of hot sauce - but I thought it'd be a fun thing to try. (Fun as in cooking project; not a way to seek revenge on whiny kids.)
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When I last checked, chutney was not a huge thing in the US, but it should be - it's great with a cheese board, in the winter, when you need to put a little warmth in your heart and meat on your bones. I found two recipes that I thought sounded good so bastardized them into my own. (NB: "Sparkle!" isn't a memo about my electrifying personality; it's a reminder to use the edible sparkle that I bought from these guys yesterday. And, no, I don't normally add sparkle to my food; this chutney is meant to be for the holidays when EVERYTHING can and should have sparkle in it. More on these guys later; I may have found my little piece of heaven here in Islington... )
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Chutney spices.
Sparkle.
Ketchup ingredients.
Start.
The end of the chutney; the ketchup still has a ways to go.
Chutney's done!
Final touches - because I am just that cute.
What a friggin' mess; they don't show you this on Food Network.
Ketchup's done!
(I wanted to label them all kickass but was wary that my British friends would think it was kickass-great, not kickass-spicy. Tooting one's own horn is not the done thing here.)