• the quotidian (5.29.17)

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

    Never enough.

    Older daughter decided she might like to learn to cook, so: glazed carrots.
    Prepping for the week ahead.
    For the last time, she cooks: chuchitos.
    If he begs long enough, eventually I’ll cave: homemade strawberry jam.

    The dog takes her responsibilities quite seriously. 
    A couple kids here, a couple kids there: slowly racking up the babysitting cash.
    One-night stand.

    Big washday.

    This same time, years previous: butter chicken, the hard part, the quotidian (5.26.15), spicy cabbage, the quotidian (5.28.12), one dead mouse.

  • a few fun things

    Yesterday afternoon, while topping strawberries, mixing shortcake, and prepping veggies for a giant tossed salad, I listened to several Fresh Air interviews with Terry Gross, one of which was her interview with Hasan Minhaj. The guy was funny, his story sharp, authentic, and raw, so last night after the kids were in bed, I pulled up his newly released show on Netflix. Within minutes, my husband was on the sofa beside me, each of us with one earbud in. I thought we’d maybe watch half of the show, but we ended up sailing right through to the end. Recommended! (Warning: language.) (Bonus: refreshingly not crass.)

    Saturday night (or was it Friday?) I forced my husband to sit down on the sofa in our room and watch Manchester by the Sea. Months before, I’d heard Terry Gross’s interview with Casey Affleck and had been itching to see the movie ever since. But I’d read bad reviews, too. People said they hated the ending, cried the whole way through, didn’t think it funny at all, and wished they never watched it. So I was braced. My reaction? I didn’t cry (but there were sad parts), I laughed out loud multiple times, and I loved the ending. Afterwards I just sat there, luxuriating in the fact that I’d just watched two-plus hours of absolute perfection. Enthusiastically—nay, fiercely—recommended!

    In other news, I’m finishing up Hillbilly Elegy. I liked it, mostly, but now that I’m nearing the end, I find myself skimming. I didn’t feel it shed that much light on the current political situation. Then again, I spent half of my childhood in West Virginia…

    I started Season Two of Master of None, but so far I’m not that impressed. It seems trite. But maybe it gets better?

    Oh yeah, and a couple weeks back we watched Hidden Figures for our family movie night and everyone, from the youngest to the oldest, thoroughly enjoyed it. (Another week we watched La La Land. I was not impressed.)

    I’m toying with the idea of signing up for Hulu for a month so I can watch This Is Us. Good idea? Bad idea? Have you seen it?

    What are you watching and reading these days? Anything so good you feel like screaming it from the rooftops? Or at least the comment section? Do tell!

    Photos from a couple weeks back when we hosted an end-of-the-year donut party for concert choir.

    This same time, years previous: in which we didn’t need the gun, the quotidian (5.25.15), rosa de jamaica tea, deviating from my norm, strawberry shortcake with milk on top.

  • snake charmer

    The other afternoon, soon after my older daughter headed out the door, we heard a piercing shriek followed by some (mild) swearing. A couple seconds later, she flew back in and babbled a full report: Snake! Huge! You gotta come see!

    My husband and I dutifully tromped outside. No snake anywhere. (Which was more than a little unnerving.) But then I spotted it slithering through the grass, heading for an evergreen. When it started climbing, we realized it was after a nest of eggs—the mother bird was stress-hopping about the yard—so we intervened. (Because National Geographic we are not.) Thwarted, the snake headed off through the flower bed.

    Can I pick it up? My older son had joined us by then.

    No! we said. Just leave it alone.

    But I know how to do it. I won’t get hurt. Please?

    Fine, I said. But if we have to make a trip to the ER, you have to pay us 50 dollars. Deal?

    My older daughter got brave enough to touch it, and then my husband, too.

    But the best part was when the snake stuck its tail up my son’s shorts (see above) and gave my husband the willies.

    And then my son went across the road and tossed the snake into a wooded area, far from our chicken coop.

    The end.

    This same time, years previous: the quotidian (5.23.16), the basics, more on trash, the reason why, the boring blues, chocolate-kissed chili, Aunt Valerie’s blueberry bars.

  • the quotidian (5.22.17)

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

    One of my favorite springtime dishes. Unfortunately, no one else shares my enthusiasm.

    Another one of my favorites. This one, the family loves.
    A week of lunches.


    A new icing that no one liked, probably because I put too much of it on the cake.

    Running low: our supply of drinking glasses.
    The glories of a summer morning.

    Of her own volition.

    DIY vaccinations.
    Life lessons.

    Financial aid forms for the new part-time college (!) student.

     Stressing me out: minutes before the guests arrive, he decides to clean out the silverware drawer.

    Big date prep.
    The first strawberry pie!
    Oh yeah, and Prom, too.

    This same time, years previous: sauteed lambsquarters with lemon, campfire cooking, Costco reflections, ice cream supper, Shirley’s sugar cookies, the trouble with Mother’s Day, the quotidian (5.21.12), through my daughter’s eyes, caramel cake.

  • pinned

    Last Wednesday, my younger son had the surgery on his broken arm. The kid was so excited! He woke up on his own at 5:15 and insisted upon taking the recommended 2nd pre-surgery shower (that we said he didn’t need to take).

    At the hospital, his giddy happiness gradually turned to anxiety-laced cheerfulness. He wanted me right next to him for everything, and when they put in his IV (it took two tries), he had a death grip on my hand.

     But he never stopped smiling! Even when he came out of surgery, all mellow and subdued, he was still pleasant and curious.

    What a trooper.

    The doctor said the bones had already started to fuse back together. He told me—rather exuberantly, I thought—that it’d taken a bit of tugging and pulling to set the arm, and then he eagerly got out his phone to show me the x-rays of his work. I wasn’t too surprised when the kid had a lot more pain this time around.

    Yesterday was the follow-up appointment. I couldn’t wait to see what was under all the bandaging.

    There’s a pin matter-of-factly sticking out of the skin. Eek!

    Judging by the x-rays, the inside part of the pin is about 2 inches long and angles back up into his arm, through the break. (His skin is orange, I’m guessing because of the surgery disenfectant.)

    Now that he’s pinned, and because there’s already lots of new bone growth, they put him in a below-the-elbow cast which is super nice. Three weeks in this one, and then back to the office to pull the pin (sounds, um …. interesting?), and then a couple more weeks in a removable (hip-hip!) brace.

    Broken bones are such an adventure!

    This same time, years previous: chocolate peanut butter sandwich cookies, the quotidian (5.18.15), crock pot pulled venison, help, a burger, a play, and some bagels, my favorite things, strawberry spinach salad, cinnamon tea biscuits.

  • surprise!

    A few days before Melissa’s birthday, it occurred to me that it’d be fun to have a party for her. And then I thought, Why not make it a surprise party? So I sent out the emails and made the phone calls and then spent the next few days worrying that one of her friends would spill the beans.

    Saturday, I got up early to bake the cakes (this and this) while Melissa was still sleeping. That afternoon I got worried there wouldn’t be enough so I made one more. (It’s good I did, too!) Also on the menu: fresh fruit, coffee, mint tea, and a piñata. Because when it comes to a party, sugar is its own food group.

    She was surprised alright! She and another friend had been invited to have Sunday lunch at a neighboring house, so they just walked over to our place when the time came.

    Walking in the drive, Melissa didn’t even bat an eye at all the people standing on the porch because, as she later recounted, There are always a lot of people at the Murch’s house.

    But then we started singing Happy Birthday, and she was like, Oh!

    We sang (twice), feasted on cake, and busted open the piñata. Kids ran around playing with the dogs and riding the horse and kicking a soccer ball. Spanish was spoken just as much as English, and I got better acquainted with a number of people I’ve only ever greeted in passing. It was a testament to Melissa, seeing all the friends she’s made in the last nine months.

    Not until after everyone left did I realized that we’d neglected to open the cards. So we gathered in the living room to watch the unwrapping: a family photo, chips and candies, gift cards and money, books, and a slew of cards.

    Over the homemade card from my mother, Melissa totally lost it.

    There was the requested ice cream—the promised quiche had to wait until the next day because I am not super woman—and then we had popcorn to go with an excellent movie.

    For nine long months, Melissa’s friend has listened to Melissa talk about our homemade popcorn, so she was tickled to finally get to help make and eat it.

    Happy Birthday, Melissa!

    With love,
    Your Virginia Family

    This same time, years previous: tomato coconut soup, prism glasses, Captain Morgan’s rhubarb sours, on getting a teen out of bed, maseca cornbread, people watching and baby slinging, lemony spinach and rice salad with fresh dill and feta.

  • the quotidian (5.8.17)

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

    Because I was craving chocolate.
    He always spills.
    A new month, a stocked larder: hallelujah.
    Dancing dervish, aka our resident dork.
    Repairing the damage.

    Natural curls: how best to manage the mop?
    (Giving this a go.)


    This same time, years previous: Moroccan carrot and chickpea salad, the science of parenting, fence, how it is, not what we’re used to, rhubarb cream pie, roasted rhubarb.

  • Marta’s picadillo

    I’m in a funk. All week I’ve been working on a chapter I don’t like. I mean, I would like it if it was any good, but it isn’t. So I don’t like it. The next chapter, which I just started even though the previous chapter is not yet finished, I also don’t like.

    Not to worry, of course. I usually hate my writing for a large portion of the process. Just, today I can’t bring myself to stick with it. So a little bit ago I went outside and sat in the sunshine. I let my mind wander—Come back when you have some brilliant thoughts to show me, I told it firmly—but nothing happened. So I came back inside.

    Thrilling stuff, this writing business.

    In other news, last night a car crashed into our front yard. Nobody was hurt, but now we’re short 30 feet of fence, a row of mailboxes, and a scrubby tree. Also, it poured—I mean, POURED—rain all night so I didn’t get to go for my run, and then today we learned, via an x-ray follow-up, that my son’s break has worsened and now he needs surgery to reset and pin it.

    So yeah, I’m in a funk.

    Picadillo. How about we talk about that? It is Cinco de Mayo, after all. (Not that I follow the holiday. At Costco yesterday, I was marveling at all the salsa samples, but it wasn’t until today that I was like, “Oh, riiight.”)

    Picadillo is a Spanish-flavored meat-n-potatoes sauce. The first time I had this, years ago, was when we were visiting some friends. Our hostess had grown up in Mexico so Latin cooking was second nature to her. When I asked Marta for the recipe, she didn’t have one. Which means this is the real deal!

    We eat our picadillo over rice. It’d be yummy with toppings though, so feel free to add anything Mexican-ish. Cabbage slaw makes a great side, though broccoli will do in a pinch, and fresh tortillas for scooping are a must.

    And now, this post written, I’m calling it quits. Off to the library I go! This sore brain is in desperate need of some high-quality entertainment. Else it just may explode. Or shrivel up. Wish me luck!

    Marta’s Picadillo 

    My notes were cryptic, but here’s a recipe, more or less. Feel free to play.

    1 pound ground beef
    1 onion, chopped
    1 large potato, peeled and cut into small cubes
    1 big carrot, chopped small
    1 clove garlic, minced
    1-2 chipotle peppers, minced, and with their sauce
    1-2 cups tomato (fresh, canned, or in sauce form)

    ½ cup beef broth

    lots of salt and black pepper

    Brown the ground beef, onion, potatoes, and carrot over medium high heat.

    While the meat and veggies are cooking, measure the garlic, peppers, tomatoes, and broth into a blender and puree until smooth.

    Add the sauce to the meat and simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper, and serve over rice.

    If you want, dress up the picadillo with fresh cilantro, sour cream, green onions, salsa, hot sauce, avocado, cabbage slaw, warm tortillas, tortilla chips, olives, fresh cheese, boiled eggs, etc. The sky’s the limit!

     Leftovers freeze well.

    This same time, years previous: the quotidian (5.2.16), a simulation, stages of acting, the quotidian (5.4.15), the quotidian (5.5.14), depression chocolate mayonnaise cake, creamy avocado macaroni and cheese, baked-in-a-pot artisan bread, the definition of insanity. rhubarb daiquiri.

  • the quotidian (5.1.17)

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

    Guatemalan flautas de pollo (chicken taquitos, more or less).

    Best eaten slightly warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

    I do believe it’s becoming a ritual: after a break, a haircut.

    So I guess all the crying was justified?


    Water love.
    To replenish the flock.

    The tomatoes are in!
    The beans, too.

    Boys in the tent, girls in the clubhouse.


    On wanting it all: an object lesson.

    This same time, years previous: back to normal, coffee crumb cake, learning to play, a Monday list, the quotidian (4.30.12), pot of baked beans, shredded wheat bread, rhubarb jam.