Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Luminaries

I wish I could sugarcoat this to make myself sound faster or smarter, but it's impossible: this book took me over two months to finish.  Granted, Eleanor Catton's novel is over 800 pages and there is a small child taking up a lot of my time, but that seems like a really long time to get through a novel.  
It should give you a taste of how much/little I enjoyed it. 
The short story is that The Luminaries is about Walter Moody, an Englishman who has sailed to New Zealand in the 1860s to partake in their gold rush.  On the night he arrives, he stumbles upon a gathering in the lobby of a hotel; twelve men are discussing their involvement in the disappearance of a young entrepreneur, the overdose of a prostitute, and the sudden discovery of a rather large fortune at the house of a dead alcoholic.  This sounds like an interesting read right off the bat. 
And I really wanted to enjoy this tome.  It's the most recent Man Booker Prize recipient, the author is a young woman (always exciting to see the award go to the unexpected!), and I truly think it is a well-written story.  It just wasn't interesting to me.  It took a few chapters to get into the language Catton uses, as it is (evidently) a parody of a 19th-century novel and the characters speak as such.  Even taking that into consideration, something about the convoluted story arc and main characters didn't do it for me.  
Does that happen to you?  I'm not sure if it was overrated or just not suited for me.  

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Overprotected Kid

I so enjoyed this article from The Atlantic.  Although I by no means was a crazy adventurous child growing up, my Sunday afternoons were often spent running around my grandparents' ranch with my cousins, unsupervised; both of my parents worked, so my sister and I were left to our own devices during the summer.  Those days were spent cultivating imagination (there was always a game of runaway princesses or long-lost sisters reunited going on), building forts in the yard, coming up with swim routines- and, yes, occasionally getting a skinned knee or lots of mosquito bites.  Looking back at it, I knew that my parents trusted me to take care and make good choices, even if they weren't standing two feet behind me.  What a wonderful gift to give a kid.
Although August is only 9 months old, I'm trying to not be helicopter parent.  I trust that he'll let me know if he needs something, but exploration is so important to his development, mobility, and curiosity right now.  My goal is to have a child who isn't afraid to take risks, who can entertain himself outside of the house, and feels comfortable without a set schedule and activities.  I have a feeling I'll be coming back to Rosin's points several times in the future!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Prosciutto and Pea Pizza

On Sunday night, JP made this amazing pizza from Shutterbean...with a few modifications.  He used prosciutto instead of bacon, used only 1/2 of the mozzarella cheese recommended in the recipe, and no cheddar.  It was so tasty!  The salty prosciutto and sweet peas go perfectly together; it was a great meal.
And, to top things off, the pizza is great with fried eggs the day after.  Just sayin'.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

World's Toughest Job

Have y'all seen this video for the world's toughest job?
'If you have a life, we're going to ask you to give that up.'
'Oh, there's no time to sleep.'
Be nice to your mama!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

He crawls!

August is 9.5 months old now, so we figured the whole crawling thing would happen soon.  Starting about 6 weeks ago, he would wake up in the middle of the night, rocking back and forth on his hands and knees in the crib.  Then, during the day, he would tentatively reach a hand out for a toy just out of reach...and settle back down onto his butt.  We had a lot of almosts that told us he was getting so, so close to becoming mobile.
One day, at play group, August took a couple of quick steps forward with his knees to get to a blanket; it was so close, though, it looked more like a fall that took a while and he caught himself before his face hit the ground.  Could that possibly make any sense?  Anyway, the next day, it happened.  The little man could crawl around the living room for a minute at a time, then a few minutes, and now it's as though this is his job.  He is getting so quick and confident!  He's been crawling steadily for about 3ish weeks now, and I cannot believe how quickly he seems to have mastered movement.  We're so proud!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cereal Milk Ice Cream

Oh my goodness, do you like peanut butter, chocolate, and ice cream?  You've got to try this homemade dessert from Take a Megabite.  It does require an ice cream maker; if you don't have one, come on over and borrow mine.  There is such an intense, dark chocolate flavor from the malted milk powder, and I love the idea of soaking breakfast cereal in the milk before using it to make ice cream.  Totally genius!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Well, hey there!

I know it's been a while- almost two months since my last post.  There are a lot of reasons for that: August has become mobile and thus more hands-on, the grind of updating this is daunting at the end of a very long day, my little sister had a wonderful wedding (!!!), I got a nasty cold, blah blah blah.  The nice thing, though, is that I've had a (very) few people asking when I would start up again, meaning some people read these musings after all!  It warms my little southern heart.
So here we are, on the verge of springtime, and it seems like there is so much new to discuss.  Like, suddenly my little man is able to crawl, pull himself to standing with the help of our furniture, and babbling like it's his job.  And my best friend has become a wife, and I have added a brother-in-law to my list of people whose birthdays I should remember.  And my hair is blonde and there are thick, black glasses atop my nose.  And the stack of books on my bedside table is finally whittling down, so I have literary-ish things to say again.
August posts will be longer, and mama-centric posts will be more frequent.  Recipe posts will be markedly shorter.  I think we'll make it work.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

 Happy Valentine's Day, from our home to yours.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Snowy Day Entertainment

'Move to Atlanta,' they said.  'The winters will be milder, and the spring lasts forever.'
Well, we are on our second bout of cabin fever in as many weeks, so I'm starting to take geography and weather advice with a grain of salt.
August, JP, and I learned our lesson with the last winter storm to hit north Georgia, so we were prepared with lots of entertainment options this time around!  I thought I'd share some of the ways we're keeping our sanity while (mostly) stuck inside with snow and ice in the yard.

On Tuesday morning, August and I ventured into the world to get our wiggles out before being cooped up.  You can see above that the weather wasn't perfect, but just a smidge of slush on the road; it mostly just rained after 10am.  We were gone 9:30am-4:15pm, which is practically the entire work day!  We went to RedBox (more on that in a minute), Barnes and Noble for some new books (libraries were already closed!), met some friends for a very long lunch, picked up art supplies at Michael's, a new outfit or two from Babies R Us, and visited Abuela for a while.  It was nice to get some breathing room before Pax hit us!

I got a few new movies for JP and I; RedBox has been our lifesaver lately.  Yesterday we watched Ender's Game and Enough Said.  The latter was such a charming film!  If you're looking for a grown-up movie, I definitely recommend it.  Today I'm looking forward to Fruitvale Station, which should fill my critical discussion quota for the morning.  There are just so many good movies to catch up on!

New Toys!
Well, new to August.  He loves playing with his own little spoon during mealtime, so yesterday I pulled out our silicone measuring bowls and tiny pastry brush and spatula for him to play with while I fiddled around in the kitchen.  My mom also sent along some awesome websites with activities for infants (you can find some great ones just by googling or searching on Pinterest), which we've sprinkled in throughout the day.  If he's happy, we're all happy.

New Recipes!
With JP home to lend an extra hand to help with August, I was able to try out a couple of new recipes yesterday.  Above is the almost-end result of some amazing ice cream I'm going to share with you next week, and we also tested out a new crock-pot pulled pork taco meal for dinner.  It helped the day feel fresh, rather than just pulling out another veggie stew when it's cold out.

Photo Shoot!
To kill some time and keep August occupied, we did a little Valentine shoot with him yesterday morning.  It was really fun!  I used a paper garland Haley made for my bachelorette party (nearly 2 years ago to the day!) and a big ivory blanket for a background, and just let August be cute for 20 minutes.  What a fun way to to document his first Valentine's Day!

JP and Mia helped keep an eye on the little man.

Our  back yard currently looks like this and there are still flurries coming down, so we'll probably have another day inside.  Once it lets up a bit, though, I hope to share some pictures of August's first snowman!  I hope you're warm, safe, and having a fun Thursday.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Double Chocolate Muffins

Dear 15-year-old Abbi,
Hi.  It's me, your 12-year older counterpart.  You don't know me, but I am intimately acquainted with you.  When you're 27, you are going to do things you never thought possible.  You're going to be married to a man (with facial hair!  And chest hair!  A real manly dude!) who encourages you to learn Spanish and gets you to eat mushrooms with gusto.  You will eat out at restaurants where you willingly order braised goat and boar jowl.  You will give up bacon and brie for an entire year, subsisting on tofu, tempeh, and kale juice (among other things).
One day, you will come across a double chocolate muffin recipe that requires no butter or eggs, instead using coconut oil and beets (yes, beets), and you will think to yourself, "I want to make these for myself and my bearded husband."  You will bake these with your own baby next to you in a high chair, giggling at the pink veggies being pureed.  You'll eat 4 in one sitting while that baby blissfully naps for a few minutes next to you.
I know you're shaking your head right now, but I know this for a fact.  You will use 'vegan' and 'delicious' and 'chocolate' in the same sentence.  I promise.

Double Chocolate Muffins (with Beets!) via Minimalist Baker
2 flax eggs (2 Tbsp. flaxseed meal and 5 Tbsp water)
1 c. beet puree or applesauce (for beet puree, just toss 4-5 small roasted beets into a food processor and pulse until smooth)
1/4 c. agave syrup
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 c. melted coconut oil
1/4 c. almond milk
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/3 c. flour
1/3 vegan chocolate chips (I found some great ones at Target!)

1. Preheat oven to 375 and line 12-muffin tin with paper liners.
2. Prepare flax eggs in a large mixing bowl and let rest for 5 minutes.
3. Add pureed beets (or applesauce), oil, agave, sugar, baking soda, salt, and whisk for 45 seconds.
4. Stir in almond milk and whisk until smooth.
5. Add cocoa powder and flours and stir with spoon until just combined.  Batter will be scoopable, not pourable.  If it's getting too thick, add more milk.
6. Stir in chocolate chips.
7. Scoop batter into tins (should make 10-12 muffins) and bake 17-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean.  Let cool, then remove from muffin tin, and enjoy!