• the quotidian (10.31.16)

    Quotidian: daily, usual or customary; 
    everyday; ordinary; commonplace

    Potatoes in cream.


    If  only she were as fastidious about organizing her room…

    In  lieu of dye. 
    Handwriting lessons.

    On  its last leg: our sweet little car.
    Sibling love: it’s complex. 

    This same time, years previous: listening, watching, reading, apple farro salad, stuffed peppers, quiche soup, apples schmapples, dusting the dough, and hamburger buns and sloppy joes.

  • cilantro lime rice

    This post was written over the last few days, a compilation of my jots and tiddles.


    “I am feeling current moods of frustration right now.”

    I opened up my October word document to write a post and this was the last line I had written. At first I didn’t know what I was looking at, but then I remembered: my son said it. He was going on a rant—something about his shirts going missing—and it made me laugh so I quick typed it down.

    To be clear, I am not feeling current moods of frustration right now. I’m not sure what I’m feeling. Kind of blah, maybe. But good, too. Good blah? I spent the morning writing, and it actually felt productive which was an unusual occurrence. And a few hours before that, my husband and I went running, so at least the day got off to a good start.


    About that run. It happened in the dark, with the wind whipping at the trees and sending the dry leaves scuttling and making us skittery. Once we heard a low growl and a quick flick of the flashlight revealed an untied dog, slowly rising. It stayed put, but we both picked up the pace. And then, a half mile later, there was the loud sound of flapping wings right by my husband’s ankle and a bird shot out of the ditch. My husband leaped straight up, his feet pedaling the air as though he were trying to climb to heaven. I gasp-laughed for a quarter mile.


    I just finished reading Lab Girl (so beautifully written, though I admit I skimmed some of the science-y sections) and now I need a book. Suggestions?


    I’m craving cake. Actually, I’m craving baking. You know, the kind of afternoon where the hours stretch like a leisurely yawn and there is nothing on the agenda but sugar, butter, and the eating of delicious things.

    It’s because of Luisa that I’m feeling this way, I think. (Well, because of Luisa and because I don’t have any good desserts on hand right now.) I just finished reading her interview with the German woman who helped her recipe test for her latest cookbook and it totally put me in the mood to bake so I, naturally (but uncharacteristically), ordered the book on the spot.

    Update: it’s here!

    And my name is in it!

    Since I only tested one recipe, I assumed I wasn’t a real tester, like real testers had to do a certain number of recipes to qualify. That Luisa had the integrity to include my name, even though my role was eensy-weensy, proved she really does pay attention to detail, making me trust her and her recipes all the more.

    Now I’m reading recipes in snatched moments, dreaming of wood fires and yeasted cakes and caramelized sugar. Gearing up, in other words. I’ve already warned the family that we’re eating only German pastries for the next couple months.

    They’re cool with it.


    The other day my daughter was asking my son if the previous night’s show was any good.

    “Did you have a clap-ation?” she asked.

    We looked at her blankly, and then it hit me. Clap-ation, it’s the new standing ovation!


    As I’ve said before, I am head over heels with my rice cooker. Every time I think about it, I get all tingly. Giddy, practically. Mid-afternoon rolls around, and I’m like, Is it time to cook some rice yet?

    I’ve developed a thing for cilantro lime rice. I discovered the recipe on the Simply Recipes blog and have made it several times. Everyone loves it. It’s so good, it stands alone, but it’s also fab with anything Mexican-y or Thai. Or just with another wedge of lime and an avocado.

    Cilantro Lime Rice
    Adapted from Simply Recipes.

    The lime juice is supposed to be added after the rice is cooked, but the first time I messed up and added the lime juice before cooking. The rice was lovely. The next time, I added half before and half after and didn’t think it was any better. Or much different, for that matter. My conclusion: add the lime juice whenever you want. It’ll be fine.

    If you chop the cilantro fine, it looks prettier, I think. (Though I’m always guilty of a sloppy, rough-chop.). Also, a single recipe doesn’t make nearly enough. Double it.

    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1½ cups basmati rice
    1 large clove garlic, minced
    2¼ cups water
    1 teaspoon salt
    zest of one lime
    3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
    1 cup cilantro, fine stems and leaves, minced

    Saute the rice in the oil for 5 minutes or until the rice starts to brown. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the water, salt, and zest. At this point, you can cook the rice on the stove-top as you would for plain rice, or you can transfer the whole mess to your rice cooker, clap on the lid, and press the “on” button (squee!).

    When the rice is done, fluff with a fork and gently fold in the lime juice and cilantro. Serve and swoon.

    This same time, years previous: reading-and-ice cream evenings, the quotidian (10.27.14), the quotidian (10.28.13), under the grape arbor, applesauce cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting, 2009 garden stats and notes, and go, Obama!.

  • growing it out

    My daughter has decided to grow her hair out and right now it’s in the awkward stage. I can hardly stand to look at it. You could scrub the kitchen floor with that mop, I tell her and she just laughs and shakes her hair in my face.

    “Seriously, hon. You gotta do something with it. It’s making me crazy.”

    So yesterday after rest time, she strutted into the living room and struck a pose. “How’s this?”

    After a quick shoot on the deck, we messed around with the style, letting down the back and using bobby pins to keep it tucked behind her ears. Her hair grows so quickly that in a couple weeks, she won’t even need pins, I bet.

    “You know,” I said, “this style reminds me of Eleven’s cut.”

    And then that led to us all the kitchen where we gathered around the computer to watch Stranger Strings and ooh and aah over Millie’s killer accent.

    This same time, years previous: the quotidian (10.26.15), in the garden, the quotidian (10.25.11), sweet potato pie, the morning kitchen, buttermilk pancakes, apple tart with cider-rosemary glaze, and signs, news, and daydreams.  

  • the quotidian (10.24.16)

    Quotidian: daily, usual or customary;
    everyday; ordinary; commonplace

    Heading out: of a Virginia morning.

    Should I pick her up?

    Best-ever indulgence: brownie, vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce.

    The kid is constitutionally unable to eat popcorn without spilling.

    Supper, going up in flames.

    And some people think my husband is quiet. Ha.

    For after the last show: a surprise cake for the new 17-year-old.
    The people who got to eat it.

    Arriving home. (We’re popular.)

    Forget eggs. This chicken sits on sheep.

    First time. 

    The kids went away for a weekend (to church retreat) and then came back.

    This same time, years previous: our cracking whip, the reading week, random, breaking news, a silly supper, aging, cheddar cheese fondue, and brown sugar syrup.

  • impressing us

    I haven’t seen much of this kid in recent weeks. Between working with his father, volunteering with the rescue squad, and choir, he’s been gone an awful lot, but it’s the theater that’s been the greatest interruption. He doesn’t have a big role in Little Shop of Horrors—screaming patient, customer, wino, and, occasionally, the Audrey Two Manipulator—but he is also the understudy for Seymour so he’s had to attend nearly every single rehearsal. Leaping up from the supper table every evening and running out the door, not to return until 10 or 11 at night, took its toll. On all of us. 

    Several weeks before opening, the real Seymour had to step out for a few days, so my son took over. As compensation for his hard work, the director announced that my son would actually get to play Seymour for one of the student matinees. Yesterday was that show.

    My  husband and I had seen the play the weekend before. Seymour does a lot of stuff: dancing, singing, stage business, lines, lines, lines.

    “How in the world will you know how to do all those things if you haven’t rehearsed?” I asked, thinking of my shaky nerves despite my many hours of hands-on rehearsals.

    “I don’t know,” said my son. He was getting worried.

    The night before his show, my son ran through the entire show, as Seymour, for the first time. Afterward, the leads stayed behind to run trouble spots until my son felt comfortable.

    Yesterday morning, my husband took off work to meet us—and my parents and a handful of friends—at the theater. I was apprehensive. Would I have to watch through my fingertips?

    And then the show started, and my boy danced and sang his way through the entire thing, and I was thoroughly and delightfully entertained, whew.

    The end.

    Except not. Because after the show, my husband went back to work, the younger kids went to a friend’s house, my older daughter went to do yard work for another friend, and I went to a meeting. My older son, after eating a celebratory hamburger with his mentor, went home and, just for the heck of it, put the car on the porch.


    After I scooped my jaw out of my lap and attached it back to my face, I got out of the van and went into the house, passing the large piece of machinery parked on my porch on the way. My son was in the kitchen, buzzing about on an adrenaline high.

    “Um, hello?” I wasn’t sure whether I should be angry or not. “Do you want to explain yourself, please?”

    “Aw, Mom, I folded all the laundry and put it away so you can’t be mad.”

    When my husband got home, he didn’t say anything for about three minutes. Just stood there, shaking his head. Apparently, a few weeks ago, my son had mentioned the porch parking idea to my husband who pooh-poohed the whole thing and then added, “But if you figure out a way to get it up there, I’ll be impressed.”

    What a kid, impressing us twice in one day. (Which is more than enough, if you ask me. I don’t think my nerves can take much more.)

    PS. Backing the car off the porch was a nail-biting affair. I could barely watch.

    But he pulled it off without a hitch, and by the skin of his teeth, lucky boy because anything broken was going to be on him.

    PPS. This is the last weekend for this high energy, fun show, and tickets are selling fast. My kids loved it.

    This same time, years previous: winter squash soup with corn relish, field work, the quotidian (10.22.12), donut party, part III, moments of silence, party panic, and love, the tooth fairy.

  • back in business

    Several months after Leslie died, her farm was sold. We didn’t know the people who bought it, but through the rumor mill we learned it was a husband-wife team, both veterinarians (one large-animal and the other small-animal). And then one of my older daughter’s former co-workers called. She’d been hired to manage the farm and would my daughter like to help the new owners clean out the barns?

    “Go, go, go!” we said. “Introduce yourself! Get a job!”

    And so she did. Now she works there regularly, dividing up the schedule with the farm manager for the twice-daily chore-time responsibilities. (Which just so happens to fall during the two worst-possible times of day: the early morning scramble and the supper-hour crunch, gah.)

    The farm is still not in full working mode. The owners haven’t made the final move to the area, so the stalls are mostly empty. Still, a couple horses (belonging to some university students) are boarding, and when the farm owners come to work, they bring their horses, too. The owners have big dreams for the farm, and eventually it’s going to be a happening place. To see the farm being cared for once again—and our daughter doing the work she loves—is gratifying.

    And soon our girl will have her license and I will no longer have to shuttle her to and from the farm, glory be.

    This same time, years previous: a dell-ish ordeal, the quotidian (10.20.14), the reading week, a pie party!, how to have a donut party, part two, and rhubarb cake.

  • where the furry things are

    Last week, the Pennsylvania baby cousins spent the entire week at my parents’ place. To give my parents a break, and to allow for my kids to have some extended bonding time with their seldom-seen cuzzes, the babies spent all of Tuesday at our place.

    Because the babies are semi-terrified of the great outdoors, one of our goals was to make them spend as much time outside as possible. I kept ordering the kids out, out, out, but the babies squalled whenever they were approached by anything that wagged or purred. My kids ended up lugging them around the whole time.

    “Can’t we just come inside, Mom?” my younger daughter sighed. “They hate it out there.”

    So I’d relent… for a little. And then I’d shoo them out all over again.

    I didn’t really expect anything to change. The kids have been consistent in their dislike of furry things since forever, and we weren’t exactly cajoling them into petting and playing with the animals. The animals were just… there.

    But then, late afternoon, the babies pulled a one-eighty. They were all out on the deck—kids and animals—when, suddenly, the babies grew bold. They petted the dogs, shook paws, hauled the cats around, and got down on all fours to scoot under the dogs á la London Bridges.

    What a hoot.

    This same time, years previous: the quotidian (10.19.15), autumn walk, how to have a donut party, part one, and pumpkin sausage cream sauce.

  • hair loss

    How much hair falls out of your head when you wash it?

    I was discussing this with some people recently and was interested to learn that what I perceived to be a normal amount was considered excessive by others.

    This is what I typically gather during my every-other-day hair wash. (After giving birth, the hair loss was 3 or 4 times this amount and seemed to go on forever.)

    My younger daughter sheds hair at an alarming rate. I’m constantly picking her hair from her clothes, and when I braid it, I usually collect a whole bouquet of baby-fine blonde hairs that I feed directly to the vacuum nozzle so they won’t waft about the house, haunting me at every turn. On the other hand, my older daughter’s hair sticks firmly to her head.

    So, after giving the issue almost zero thought, I’ve come to the brilliant conclusion that some people shed hair and others don’t. (Give me a medal, please.) Which are you?

    This same time, years previous: rich, would you come?, Italian cream cake, stats and notes, 2008, and deprivation.

  • the quotidian (10.17.16)

    Quotidian: daily, usual or customary; 
    everyday; ordinary; commonplace

    Such a marvelous food.

    This is what giving up looks like.

    Nobody was a fan.

    Her eyes were bigger than her stomach.
    I made this salad (which I love), and my husband said, 
    “All butternut squashes belong in pies.” 
    Debate entertainment.

    Anything to distract from Algebra.
    Stunned: window-crash victim.

    Sideways thinking: I bought the game for my husband because I knew it would 
    make the kids happy, which would, in turn, would make him happy, and I was right.

    Post (no-Jennifer-and-therefore-very-fast) run, cool-down strip.


    This same time, years previous: a list, the adjustment, grab and go: help wanted, that thing we do, apple cake, and pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting.

  • peanut butter fudge

    Hey, y’all. It’s Friday afternoon, the tail end of rest time. My husband is snoozing on the couch downstairs, the three younger kids are in their rooms, my son just left to go run lines with my mom at her house, and I’m sitting in my unmade bed, my back propped against a stack of pillows, my cold feet tucked under the down comforter.

    This morning, through a series of unplanned events, the house ended up quiet and empty. I spent the time cooking (soup, salad, pizza) and listening to the radio. If I had known I’d have the house to myself, I would’ve done some writing, but no matter. Now the cooking is done and my husband is here to oversee the company-is-coming cleaning scramble while I hide out in my room and get some writing therapy. I win.

    Awhile back, I was flipping through blogs when, just as I clicked onto a blog post boasting a recipe for peanut butter fudge, my daughter looked over my shoulder.

    “Ooo, Mom! Are you going to make peanut butter pudge?”

    I burst out laughing. “So it’s pudge now, eh? That’s fitting.” (This child is forever derailing our conversations with delightfully mauled words, reducing us all to belly-shaking laughter.) “I guess if we’re going to call it pudge, then I have no choice but to make it.”

    I’ve never had much luck with fudges. I find the texture too waxy hard, or even sort of crumbly, and the sweetness cloying. But this recipe looked different—it called for six marshmallows as the stabilizer (or whatever… they eliminate the need to cook the fudge until it reaches the soft-ball stage)—and it’s hard for me to turn down a new recipe, especially when it might solve a persistent cooking quandary and involves peanut butter.

    This fudge has the texture I’ve been looking for—soft, tender, creamy—and the flavor is all about the peanut butter. A piece (or five) of “pudge” is just the thing to get you through the draggy, late afternoon hours, and it serves as a great pick-me-up for a child suffering from a pre-supper energy crash. (Trust me, I know.)

    Peanut Butter Fudge
    Adapted from Simply Recipes.

    ½ cup milk
    6 regular-sized marshmallows
    ¾ cup each granulated sugar and brown sugar
    2 teaspoons vanilla
    ½ teaspoon salt
    1½ cups creamy peanut butter

    Pour the milk into a saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Add the marshmallows. Stir occasionally, until the marshmallows have dissolved. Add the sugars and stir until dissolved.

    Remove the kettle from the heat, and add the remaining ingredients, stirring until creamy-smooth.

    Pour the mixture into a parchment paper-lined, 8×8 pan. Cool in the fridge for several hours. Cut the fudge into little squares, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

    This same time, years previous: up and over, the boarder, the quotidian (10.13.14), home, roasted red pepper soup, old-fashioned brown sugar cookies, pepperoni rolls, and pear butterscotch pie.