Friday, July 29, 2011

garbanzos and chickpeas and channa, oh my!

When I want a vegetarian meal, my go-to proteins are all beans and legumes. I recently learned there is an American Pea and Legume Council (who of course came out against Pres. Obama's recent comment about having to "eat our peas"), which I think is as unnecessary as it is hilarious and kind of awesome. Only in America, right? As I was saying, I love legumes, and my favorite is the chickpea. What a cute name! And so many names, I might add. Today I'm sharing my favorite chickpea recipes.

The first has to be hummus. I could eat a gallon of hummus with salty pita chips. My all-time fav is not even homemade, but the one sold at Trader Joe's that has three varieties in one container...original, roasted red pepper, and cilantro. Yummmmmm. When I make it at home, I use an Ina Garten recipe.

Lately I've been trying out vegetarian Indian recipes. I love channa masala, a spicy chickpea dish, so I think tonight I'll try a recipe I found on one of my favorite food blogs, Smitten Kitchen.

I adore soup, so my next two chickpea recipes are soups. While I admittedly don't make much soup in the summer, these are both light with a clear broth. Both also come from Cooking Light, which my sweet mom-in-law has been sending me for years. Moroccan chickpea stew is great with tangy yogurt, as they suggest, and minestrone with chickpeas, which I adapted below, is wonderful frozen and reheated. I love squash and zucchini, and I routinely have leftover pesto, so I freeze it in ice-cube trays and use it in this recipe.

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minestrone with chickpeas
serves 4

Olive oil
1 cup chopped eggplant
1 cup chopped zucchini
1 cup chopped yellow squash
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
28 oz. vegetable broth
28 oz. canned diced tomatoes, undrained
1 bay leaf
1 Tbs. chopped flat-lef parsley
1 Tbs. leftover or commercial jarred pesto
1 tsp. chopped fresh oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 15 oz. cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 cups chopped spinach

Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add a couple of turns of oil, eggplant and next five ingredients (through garlic). Saute until onion is tender, about 4 minutes. Stir in broth, tomatoes, and bay leaf, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Add parsley and next five ingredients (through chickpeas). Cook 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Stir in spinach; serve immediately or freeze.

Editor's note: This post is part of GNOWFLGINS Squash & Zucchini Seasonal Recipe Round-Up.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

spinning workout #4: upbeat

Update (2/28/12): You can find this playlist on Spotify now. How cool is technology?!

This is the latest of a series of spinning workouts I've shared (see the first three: #1, #2, and #3). There are a few slow songs in this one, but for the most part this set is full of happy beats. Would that be a major key, Nate? Never did understand the major/minor key difference. Hopefully my kids will have a better musical education. I spent my entire guitar training when I was in high school talking about God to my teacher (a masters in theology along with music).

1) "Ondiek" by Ayub Ogada (I Dreamed of Africa soundtrack). 4:04. Serene warm-up and stretch.

2) "Let's Get It Started" by the Black Eyed Peas. 7:33. Running.

Stand in the seat in hand position 2, like hovering but without as much bend in the knee. High cadence, low resistance, like a standing half-sprint.

3) "Nantes" by Beirut. 3:54. Standing climb.

Continue standing and move to hand position 3, start climbing out of the gate. Gradually add resistance and lower cadence.

4) "Transformer" by Gnarls Barkley. 2:18. Sprints.

Sit down in the saddle, release some resistance and pick up the cadence. Begin sprinting at 0:30 in when high-pitched singer begins talking. Slow it down at tempo break at 0:52. Begin sprinting again at 1:20 and continue until song abruptly stops.

5) "Viva La Vida" by Coldplay. 4:01. Spin.

Stay hydrated. Focus on using every part of your legs to propel yourself. Don't lean on your palms.

6) "We Will Rock You" by Queen. 2:02. Seated climb.

This tempo is slow enough that you can crank up the resistance for some strength training.

7) "Help I'm Alive" by Metric. 4:46. Intervals.

Release resistance and start with jumps (switch every 8 sec). At 1:32, switch to sprint until 2:04, then back to jumps. Back to sprint again at 2:54 until 3:26, then finish with seated climb (add resistance).

8) "Send Me On My Way" by Rusted Root. 4:55. Spin.

A bit of chipper spinning.

9) "Move Your Body" by Eiffel 65. 4:31. Hover.

Increase resistance, hop out of saddle, and feel the burn.

10) "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" by Kylie Minogue. 3:51. Recover & spin.

Back in the saddle, resistance released and gradually added.

11) "Save Me" by Jem. 3:34. Standing climb.

Hand position 3. Add resistance every 30 sec.

12) "Sorry" by Madonna. 4:42. Spin.

13) "Hello" by Martin Solveig & Dragonette. 4:41. Continue spinning.

14) "Gotta Get Through This" by Daniel Beddingfield. 3:11. Hover.

Get through this song. You're almost done.

15) "Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want" by The Smiths. 1:52. Cool down.

Release resistance and sit up in saddle. Stretch arms while you gradually lower your heart rate.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Vivisms, vol 20

Me: Go to time out, Vivi.
Vivi: This is NOT POSSIBLE!

Vivi: When I was an ant, I went marching on. But now I'm a girl, and I run and run and run! 'Member that, Mommy? 'Member when I used to be an ant?

Vivi: I want the bloss hair.
Me: The what?
Vivi: The boss hair.
Me: The boss hair?
Vivi: Umm....
Nate: Do you want a braid?
Vivi: That's it! I want a braid.

While driving to the library, my mind wandered and I didn't notice which song we had been listening to on the radio ("No Scrubs" by TLC) until we pulled into the parking lot. 
Vivi: Mommy, that was a terrible song.

Vivi: Mommy, what should we do? Start fire and pretend we're Vikings?

Me: Be careful, Vivi.
Vivi: I am be carefulling.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

world's most genius organizer and spouse mind-reader

The above post title is the new moniker I have given myself after I triumphed over the minor catastrophe of the day. It started with me coming across Charlotte's birth certificate while organizing, at which point I thought I should put it in our sacred file folder of justice. We don't really call it that, but I thought I should give it an important name to impart the significance this folder holds in our lives. It contains both our and Vivi's birth certificates, our marriage license, and the titles to our cars. So you can imagine my dismay when I casually flicked open the file drawer only to discover the file was....dun dun dun!...missing. Of course I immediately thought to call my husband, who is generally speaking the causer of all lost things in our lives. No offense to him, but seriously, I have never met someone so likely to lose items and so unable to locate items right in front of his face. In other words, if they were the proverbial snakes, he would have been bitten, many times. Before you decide I'm jumping to conclusions in blaming him for the missing folder, allow me to let you in on a little piece of our recent history in which Nate drove up to Boston carrying the folder in the car. In a moment brimming with irony, I opted to remove the folder from the file drawer and give it to Nate for safe keeping, lest the careless movers lose the box it was packed in. And that is how I came to be staring today at a file drawer full of magazine clippings, old resumes, and vet records for our cat, and no file of justice.

After a quick unsuccessful phone call during which I asked him where the file was, cursed when I received the "Um, I don't know" answer (forgone conclusion), and then proceeded to hear "leave me alone" when I called him back to double check a few minutes later, I reassessed my situation. Having given him every chance to remember where he put it and scoured every place I could have put it [note: there are only 3 such places; in case you missed it previously, I am a self-proclaimed organization guru], I had only one slightly terrifying and very challenging option left:

Jump into the mind of my husband and think of where he would have put the folder.  

Sigh, stretch, crack knuckles.

Here goes nothing...

Nate's mind: Ok, I'm a serial procastinator and typically ignore what my wife says, but I think she might have told me to keep track of a few things on my drive up to Boston. Yep, here they are: wedding album, file folder of justice, fire box with our passports and wedding negatives, and laptop. I know she told me to put them somewhere safe when I got to Boston, but I'm exhausted from the drive, so I'll do it later.

This brings us, dear readers, to the climax of my story. In that brief moment inside my husband's head, I suddenly realized where the folder must be. I immediately ran over to the closet where I keep the box our wedding album is stored in, threw open the lid, and there it was smiling up at me: THE FILE FOLDER OF JUSTICE.

...victory dance...

But what's the moral of this story? Should I make sure I am in charge of all important documents in the future? Maybe. Should I nag him more and become "that wife"? Perhaps not. The crisis was averted, and I enjoy bragging about my superhero ability to find lost objects. Win win.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Grandma Bonnie's meatballs

I am hoping some day I will catalog this blog, and the girls will be able to see what we were up to and even benefit from seeing the recipes we cooked back then. This recipe is not from my grandma but rather from my mother-in-law. It is Vivi's absolute favorite home-cooked food. I love it too because it's easy enough to make, and I have the recipe memorized because there are so few ingredients. We leave out the red pepper flakes when making it for Vivi, and we double the standard amount when making it for ourselves. Enjoy!

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makes 20-25

2 lb ground beef chuck (we sometimes substitute half bison or turkey)
1 cup unseasoned bread crumbs
3/4 cup Romano and/or Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup beef broth
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
3 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon black pepper, ground
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
pinch of nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 450 degF. Stir together all ingredients except the ground beef. Using a fork or your hands, combine the beef with the mixture and mix thoroughly. Using a scoop, spoons, or your hands, shape the meatballs 1 to 2 inches in diameter. Place 1 inch apart on a greased sheet pan. I can typically get about 30 1 in. meatballs, and I put 15 on each of 2 sheet pans. Cover the bottom of each pan with beef broth to keep meatballs moist while cooking and prevent scorching the pan. Bake 25 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through. Reserve pan juices if you are making your own tomato sauce.

To freeze extra meatballs, place them on a clean sheet pan in a single layer so they aren't touching. Put the pan in the freezer until the meatballs are just frozen. Place in a vacuum lock freezer bag. For Vivi, I pull out two at a time and defrost/heat them in the microwave.

Update (6-25-12): At 21 months, Charlie now also adores this recipe and gobbles up three meatballs before touching the rest of her meal. It cannot be overstated that this is a great recipe to freeze ahead and make a few at a time.

Editors' note: This post is part of Monday Mania

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

our very own air horn

Have you ever heard a scream so loud? I wonder how she doesn't blow out her own ear drums!


Friday, July 22, 2011

10 years later, part 2

"Without contraries is no progression. Attraction and repulsion, reason and energy, love and hate, are necessary to human existence." -William Blake

I think this might be our first digital picture together, taken by my aunt at my Grandma's house on what I think was our first Christmas we spent together instead of at our separate parents' houses. I can't believe how young we look! July 12th was our 10-year dating anniversary. I've been thinking of what I wanted to write ever since the 12th, but I postponed writing until today because Nate is coming home tonight from his 2-week business trip to Costa Rica, and I didn't want to think too much about how much I missed him, lest I spent the last two weeks in an even bigger pity party than I already was.

I like the quote above because it sums up my marriage so well. We certainly are yin and yang. He's the Hermione to my Harry. And no, I didn't get it backward, he's definitely Hermione; questioning everything, grounded, unwaveringly logical, and more loyal to his friends than anyone I know. It's a nerdy analogy, but what can I say, being nerds is probably part of what attracted us to each other.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

the art of decluttering

"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." 
-William Morris

In keeping with the decluttering spirit, I'm going to keep this post short and simple. I think the above rule is the best you can follow when considering what you keep versus donate/sell/trash. I love love love this post from another blog that gives a list of 15 decluttering tips. If 15 is too many or the post is too long for you, allow me to sum up my favorite rules:

1. Remember the rule stated in the quote above. If you don't love it or need it, get RID OF IT.

2. Don't bring it into the house in the first place. If you must, follow this rule: 1 in, 2 out.

3. Clothing rule: If you haven't worn it in 6 months, donate it.

4. If you don't want to get rid of something because you were planning to sell it online or at a garage sale, give yourself a realistic deadline (i.e. 30 days, not 30 years) by which you must complete the task.

5. Hoarding is selfish. Your value is not in your stuff. In fact, your value goes up when you share stuff.

6. Gift everything. Give books away immediately after read, and donate old items when you buy new items.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Vivisms, vol 19

Vivi: Mommy, what do you think about Massachusetts?
Me: What do you think about Massachusetts?
Vivi: I don't know!

Vivi: I'm going to pull my teeth out of my face.
Me: Why?
Vivi: So I don't bite my's not working though!

Me: Let's play up in your room while Charlotte is still napping.
Vivi: Ok. Don't forget to turn the harmonitor on!

Vivi: Can we go to the E-E-C-A...the I-C-M-Y...the M-E-C-Y?
Me: Yes, we can go to the Y-M-C-A.

After being pulled over by a policeman, waiting on our 'verdict'...
Vivi: Mommy, are you sad?
Me: Yes, honey.
Vivi: Don't worry. I'll let you watch my movie with me when we get home. Then you'll feel better!

Vivi: I love kisses and hug-es.

Me: Don't take your eye off her for a minute while I go in here.
Vivi: I won't take her eye off her Mommy! That's silly.

Playing a matching game...
Me: Count our matches.
Vivi: ...counting to five twice...Five and five!
Me: A tie! We both won.
Vivi: No, we both five.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

pirate face and other tricks

Charlie makes this face a lot when I'm feeding her. I think it means "I'm all done."

I took this one three days ago, and she's made leaps in progress already since then. She can now sit down and stand up by herself, and she will take a few steps if you hold her hands. She's also been crab-crawling for about a week.

my brilliant idea

I have an idea about what I could do for work. As I've mentioned before, these ideas are not unusual for me. But as is typically the case, I have neither the means nor the gumption to commit to it. I just can't get the idea out of my head though, so I'm sharing it with you in the hope that it will either flee from my brain or else someone I know will take advantage of my free business idea and run with it.

I'll start off with a little background about how I got the idea. From time to time after Charlotte was born, I've wanted/needed a place I can drop off Vivi, either so she can play when I'm too tired to play with her, or so she can stay out of my hair if I need to do something not conducive to having a three year old around, like going to the dentist. At first I wasn't sure if such a place existed because I couldn't find one in DC. When I went to live with my mom for a few months in Roswell, I found a place exactly like I was looking for right away! It was like the owner had read my mind. It's called Play Activity Center, and they have a great indoor play space with a bouncy castle, big foam pit, trampoline, the works. The caregivers feed the kids sack lunches and are very attentive; they do art projects and run around with them in the "big gym." You can reserve the gym for birthday parties, and there's even a quiet room where parents can go who aren't in the mood to listen to 20 seven-year-olds screaming and laughing their heads off. And if you do want to stay and play with your kid, you can get a membership for the big gym and pay less to go in and play together. They also do seasonal events, like a visit with Santa. You call ahead to reserve a spot (so they know how many workers to schedule), and if you aren't going to make it, you call and cancel. The best part is that it only cost me $7 an hour. Perfect!

So why haven't these places been duplicated elsewhere? My guess as to why it's not in DC is that frankly, no moms stay at home, and thus the service isn't really in demand as much. But there are PLENTY of stay-at-home moms here in Boston, so where's our drop-off play center? I immediately searched for such a place when I got here in January, and all I could come up with were VERY EXPENSIVE nannies and preschools, mostly for kids over 2 and all requiring you to fill a permanent place in a center/school/home, not an impromptu drop-off facility. So finding none, I began to probe fellow moms to find out more. I always got the same reaction; first puzzlement and questions, then skepticism and more questions, and finally lightbulb and exclamation of "That's a great idea! Why doesn't that exist here?" I've often asked myself that question, and without doing actual research, I came up with two possible answers:
1. People have come up with the idea, but there's some regulation/law/expense stopping them from doing it (Mass. loves its regulations!)
2. It's never been done here before, so it's not part of the culture, and no one has come up with the idea yet.

I have no doubt that were someone to overcome the potential obstacles listed above in reason #1, that person would make a killing! It's not even a question in my mind. This is a needed service that would be gobbled up so fast you'd have a mile-long wait list. In my dream, the play center would be attached to a big kids' consignment shop, so moms could drop their kids off to play and then shop peacefully in the store by themselves. In the end, a person would need the two things I mentioned at the start of my post to make it work. First, you would need money, aka "capital" in yuppy businessman terminology, and secondly, you would need to commit to living in the same city for at least 5 but more like 10 or 15 years. Given my recent post about Atlanta, clearly I do not possess the latter quality, and without telling sob stories or eating worms, I must also admit to not have much of the former quality either. Somebody, anybody out there, please do this so I have a place to drop off my kids!

Monday, July 18, 2011

spinning workout #3: steady state

Update (2/28/12): I am adding a link to my Spotify playlist. Yay technology!

I got some positive feedback after sharing the spinning workouts (see #1 and #2), so I thought I'd share a few more I've been doing. This one is a slow burn, for a day when you want an hour of exercise but aren't up for a butt-kicking workout.

1) "I Can See Clearly Now" by Johnny Nash. 2:46. A little positive energy to get you in the mood. Warm up and stretch. Flat spinning.

2) "My Humps" by the Black Eyed Peas. 5:27. Standing climb.

Standing in hand position 3, start climbing out of the gate. Gradually add resistance and lower cadence. When music abruptly changes to jazzy piano, release resistance, get back in the saddle and get some water.

3) "If U Seek Amy" by Britney Spears. 3:37. Sprints.

Spin during verses, sitting sprint during choruses. At 1:30 left, recover until 1:00, then out of the saddle hovering sprint for the remainder.

4) "Promentory" by Trevor Jones. 6:13. Spin.

5) "They" by Jem. 3:16. Jumps.

Start with longer counts between switching from standing to sitting (8 counts), then progress to faster jumps until you are moving quickly (2 counts).

6) "Another One Bites the Dust" by Queen. 3:37. Hover.

Add resistance every 30 seconds. Feel the burn. When guitar picks up at 0:24 left, recover and hydrate.

7) "One Thing" by Finger Eleven. 4:40. Seated climb.

Recover until 0:50 into song, when guitar picks up. Add resistance every minute after that. When volume dips at 4:00, begin recovery.

8) "Push It" by Salt-N-Pepa. 4:15. Steady state spinning.

Let the steady state begin. Get water periodically between songs or in slow segments. Sit up when needed.

9) "4 Minutes" by Madonna (feat. Justin Timberlake). 4:05. Steady state spinning.

10) "Uprising" by Muse. 5:05. Steady state spinning.

11) "Don't Go" by Yaz. 3:11. Steady state spinning.

12) "Maneater" by Nelly Furtado. 4:19. Hover.

At 3:26, get back in the saddle and recover.

13) "Gold Guns Girls" by Metric. 4:05. Sprints.

Sprint during her "Is it ever gonna be enough?" choruses. Maintain high cadence during other periods.

14) "Feel Good Inc." by Gorillaz. 3:43. Spin.

Maintain good resistance.

15) "Suddenly I See" by KT Tunstall. 3:22. Spin.

Begin to relax, but keep resistance at a good pace.

16) "Porcelain" by Moby. 4:01. Cool down.

Release resistance and sit up in saddle. Stretch arms while you gradually lower your heart rate.

mint limeade

 2 cups sugar
8 cups water, divided
1/3 cup mint, coarsely chopped
1 cup lime juice (~12 limes)
mint sprigs
lime slices

Make simple syrup by boiling sugar, 2 c. water, and mint until sugar dissolves. Remove; let stand 10 minutes. Strain out mint. If serving with seltzer, combine on the spot. If water, combine ahead and chill.

I was inspired to look up this recipe after ordering it at a great restaurant in DC called Founding Farmers on my birthday a few years back. Then when I got pregnant again, I needed lots of new non-alcoholic drink ideas to survive the hot summer. But if you're not preggers, add white rum to make it a mojito if you'd like. I know I do.

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

I read it in less than 127 hours...

Between a Rock and a Hard PlaceBetween a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Riveting! What an inspirational, amazing man. He deserves every success in life, and I was happy to hear he has become a motivational speaker. I also highly recommend the movie version called "127 Hours," starring James Franco. Speaking of, he's also quite a guy, in case you hadn't heard. Note: if you're remotely squeamish, you'll want to skip both the book and movie.

Tip: If you're not a hippy dippy granola head climber, you might not be interested in his lengthy descriptions of past climbs or philosophy on Bonaroo music; I skimmed the overly lengthy tales of his "Phish-head" hiking days.

View all my reviews

Saturday, July 16, 2011

standing on the side of love

"Jesus is all about inclusion, forgiveness, and empowerment. In the light of his compassionate presence, people are set free to live their lives in strength and hope, regardless of whether they be considered outcasts by those in the 'religious know.'" -Rev. Cynthia Bourgeault 

I rarely speak about my spiritual side, perhaps because I find spirituality deeply personal and intimate and would prefer to have the discussion face to face. Occasionally I am moved to share my spiritual feelings in a more public way, and I have been so moved recently. While I'm a little late to join the party (not in my approval but in my post here), I wholeheartedly support the recent decision by New York lawmakers to legalize same-sex marriage. And although the vote was resoundingly partisan, I do not consider my opinion to be that of a Democrat but of a Christian. I have sometimes found it difficult to discuss the matter with other Christians, for when they point out the Bible clearly says homosexuality is wrong, I have little retort except to think that as Christians we should not be passing such harsh judgment on others, particularly on those who simply want to declare their love in a lasting way. I just don't personally believe it's what Jesus would do. Last week I read a newsletter published by Gwyneth Paltrow's website GOOP that provided some guidance from Christian ecclesiastics, which I found to be eloquent at putting my emotions into words.

The title of my post is the name of an interfaith public advocacy campaign sponsored by Unitarian Universalism Association, which has been my church of choice for nine years. They welcomed me with open arms despite my frequent doubts and questions, and that unconditional love and support has allowed my compassion to flourish. As I have said before, I am still at times searching for compassion, but it helps to have a support system. Everyone has to find their own way, whether that is through some spiritual faith or not. I'm certainly not asking anyone to "convert" to my way of thinking. But if I've even opened the door a tiny crack toward acceptance and compassion, I will have reached my goal in opening myself up to you in this deeply personal way.

Friday, July 15, 2011

lemon tarragon brined chicken

I'll start by saying I'm not a huge fan of chicken. To me, it's almost tasteless unless covered by a great sauce. When given a choice of meat, I almost always choose pork. It was, however, a sad day when we had to leave Falls Church's famous Peruvian "super chicken," a spicy rotisserie chicken served with chimichurri and yucca fries. Deeelicious.

My favorite, never-fail roasted chicken recipe originally came from Cooking Light. You can find their version online here (if it won't let you in, get a free membership; it's a great website). I've modified it over the many times I've made it; I don't much like barbecuing whole chickens, so I roast mine.

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lemon tarragon brined chicken
serves 4

7 c. water, divided
Zest and juice of 1 lemon, plus 1 lemon, quartered
8 tarragon sprigs
1 c. kosher salt
1/2 c. sugar
2 c. ice cubes
1 whole chicken, giblets and neck removed
1 Tbs. chopped fresh tarragon, plus 2 sprigs
1 onion, quartered
1 tsp. pepper
Olive oil

Combine 1 c. water, zest, salt, sugar, and tarragon in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; remove from heat. Place in a large bowl. Add remaining water, stirring until salt and sugar dissolve. Cool. Add the ice and chicken. Refrigerate 3-8 hours. Do not leave overnight, or you will have salty chicken! (Note: if you forget to remove the chicken from the brine, you can do a bit of "de-brining" by soaking it in cold water for an hour. No promises, though). Remove chicken and discard brine. Pat chicken dry with paper towels.

Preheat oven to 375 degF. Insert 2 sprigs of tarragon and quarters of lemon and onion inside the chicken cavity. Tie up the legs for even cooking. Lightly coat outside of chicken with olive oil. Rub the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped tarragon and 1 tsp. pepper on outside of chicken. Baste chicken with 2 Tbs. lemon juice twice during cooking.  Roast for about 1.5 hours or until a meat thermometer reads 175degF. Let chicken rest for 15 minutes under a foil tent; it should come up to 180degF before carving.

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Editor's note: This post is part of Monday ManiaReal Food WednesdayFight Back Friday and Freaky Friday.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

1-2-3 magic

1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12 (123 Magic)1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12 by Thomas W. Phelan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This has been the most effective discipline method we've tried so far. It's a keeper for sure. Vivi is a challenging kid on whom it doesn't work just to praise the good behavior. She needs some discipline for the times she challenges our authority and is just plain obnoxious. The best part about the method is that it removes emotion and talking (my two previous favorite discipline tactics!), which leaves nothing but a clear message about what she did wrong and allows for a quick decision about changing her behavior. I liken it to the clicker some people use for their dogs.

I owe this book recommendation to my excellent therapist. She also works with parents and children who are having difficulties with discipline, ADD, etc.; I was ready to give up on child-raising books altogether, but since she recommended it so highly, I decided to give it a chance. I am so glad I did. What I love most about the author is that he notes the fact that the more you discipline your children, the more you are able to enjoy them. I couldn't agree more. I know I said in a recent post that I am attempting to ignore the annoying but tolerable behaviors. And I am! But there are plenty of annoying and intolerable behaviors, like asking "Why? Why? Why?" after I've already provided an explanation and whining. As sweet as she is, Genevieve is also an astute and clever child who is prone to boredom, and thus a perfect storm of A#1 annoyance is born. Lord, beer me strength.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

whities in a tizzy about Whitey

I'm sure it made news everywhere that Whitey Bulger (i.e. the real person who inspired the Jack Nicholson character in "The Departed") was recently captured and will face trial for his many crimes spanning more than a half-century. But no news coverage can compare to Boston's absurd level of detail and ubiquity. One of my favorite parts of staying at home is being able to listen to NPR when I'm working in the kitchen; however, today was no picnic because every time they switched to local coverage, I had to hear day two of the (sarcasm alert!) cliff-hanger story over and over about whether or not his longtime girlfriend would be released on bail. Gasp! It was a nail biter for sure, and I enjoyed listening to it 15 times this morning on top of 30 times yesterday. Now, don't get me wrong, I understand he murdered and terrorized many people in this city, so part of me gets why we have to hear about him 24/7 right now. Sufficed to say I would prefer the coverage more aptly correspond to the level of NEWS regarding the case. I don't need to hear about every time he walks 15 feet, thank you very much. My theory as to why we are being bombarded is that it could have something to do with acknowledgement of same-race crime in a predominately racially-uniform area. In a melting pot community like Atlanta, it seemed when I was growing up that everyone had to be on "their side" when it came to crime discussion, and maybe not even discuss it at all if someone of your race committed the crime. Most memorable was the racial divide surrounding the O.J. Simpson trial, which I know was racially divided in many US cities, but this is only one of many examples I could give. It was as though in a community of many races, you had to stick up for your own race and pretend it was infallible. But in a homogenous state like Massachusetts, it's a crime discussion free-for-all. I could be wrong, but anyway, food for thought. I can only hope some better news comes along, and quick, before they start covering his trips to the bathroom.

Vivisms, vol 18

Vivi (eating dinner at Vogel): Mmmm, I love barbie sauce. Mommy, do you want barbie sauce on your meat?
Me: Haha, it's barbecue sauce.
Vivi (later in the week, playing in the tub with Barbies): I'll be this barbecue, and you be the other barbecue Mommy.

Playing with "guys"...
Vivi (plastic tiger): Let's go to the store.
Me: (Buzz Lightyear): What are we going to buy?
Vivi: Cheetos and fruit cups and granola bars and popsicles...and beer.
Me: What kind of beer?
Vivi: It's a special kind of yummy beer. It has chicken nuggets in it!

Vivi (wrapping rubber band around a toy): Mommy, look. Buzz Lightyear is wearing a sports bra.

Hazard of the summer...
Vivi: My bottom is sticking to my other bottom. Yuck!

Vivi: Why is Charlotte crying? What's wrong with her?
Me: I think she's teething.
Vivi: She don't got no toof on the up, right Mommy? Is she gonna get a new toof today?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

trust me; I'm the sunscreen

Remember "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)"? You can listen/watch on YouTube still. It's fun to go back and listen again...or for the first time if for some reason you were living under a rock or, like my young siblings, not listening to the radio in 1999. My personal favorites...

Be kind to your knees; you'll miss them one day.

Do not read beauty magazines; they will only make you feel ugly.

I've been thinking about this song lately because I recently embarked on a Caribbean journey so needed to purchase some sunscreen. I sometimes wish I could go back in time when I was blissfully unaware of the public health concerns I am now familiar with, but alas, since I cannot I must push forward and do my due diligence. Just like I posted a while back regarding the USDA and meat oversight, we unfortunately cannot yet trust the FDA to oversee sunscreens. They still do not rate sunscreens by any standards and are controversially allowing companies to jack up the SPFs on their labels despite little to no evidence base demonstrating the high-SPF utility. Fortunately, there is a non-profit called Environmental Working Group that stepped Consumer Reports-style and filled the gap. They put out a bunch of information about which sunscreens are best.

Aside from my public health knowledge, having melanoma on both sides of my family has also pushed me to learn more about sun protection. Because summer is here, I thought it was a good time to share a little of what I've learned. The most important fact to know is that sunscreen does not prevent skin cancer. It is designed to protect against skin-burning UVB rays, but the cancer-causing UVA protection is unknown at best, and likely nonexistent.  The best way to prevent skin cancer is to stay out of the sun, and if you have to be in the sun, protect your skin with clothing, hats, and shade-producing implements in addition to sunscreen.

Secondly, you need to get skin checks by your primary care physician at least once every five years. I get checked every year both because I'm very moley and because of my family history; typically, once every 5 or so years my doc finds one that looks suspicious and biopsies it. Luckily they've all come back negative so far.

The last bit of knowledge I can pass along is that there is no such thing as a safe tan. The closest you can come are the self-tanning creams and sprays on the market, so if you insist on having a deep tan, I suggest you deal with the hassle and mess of those products as opposed to tanning beds.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Charlie's new trick

She's clapping!



Vivi being Vivi


Vivi was playing quietly while I made her lunch because Charlotte was still asleep in the next room. Please ignore me in the background; it's 90 degF outside and with no A/C, it's HOT inside. I swear if I knew it was filming me too, I would have put a shirt on. :)

rule of three

There's a great Latin phrase, omne trium perfectum, which means everything that comes in three is perfect. Well, I'm not certain about the perfection part, but Atlanta has called to me three times over the past few days. I recently learned from a friend that Music Midtown, my favorite concert when I was growing up, is moving to Piedmont Park this fall after a 6-year hiatus. How exciting! Great band choices too, I might add. Then the same day my mom told me about an affordable house for sale in a nice midtown neighborhood, and it got me intrigued to find out more, so I adopted Nate's hobby of "house-surfing." Have you heard of the site called RedFin yet? Nate loves to go on there and look for houses, sometimes in our area, and sometimes in other places we've considered living. At first I thought it was kind of a weird pastime, but when I got into it myself, I realized it's fun! I'm surprised how much the market has fallen; it's been a while since I've talked to anyone about house prices in Atlanta. While it can be fun, consider yourself forewarned that house-surfing is also slightly maddening because you find all these great places, and your energy has nowhere to go except back into looking for more houses.

Nate and I have a love-hate thing going on with the idea of moving back to Atlanta some day. On the one hand, it would be soooo great to move home where we have tons of friends and family. And on the other hand, it's...Atlanta. I can't help but remember the reasons we moved away: the heat, the traffic, the rude customer service, the seeming lack of care for the environment. Sigh. If we did move back, we'd love to live in Druid Hills or Decatur. There are some beautiful homes for sale there right now! I can't help but share a few I found [N.B. If you're reading this blog post even a few weeks after I published it, these links may not still work]. We LOVE craftsman bungalows, and nowhere we've lived outside the south has had very many of them. Check this one out. And how about this Victorian home? I can't believe it's less than $500k! Every place we've lived before you can just forget about owning one unless you're a millionaire.

The last in the trifecta of strange coincidences is that I watched an episode of "Throwdown with Bobby Flay," and he was in where of all places but a cool organic restaurant in the Morningside area. For those of you wondering, no we're not planning to move back to Atlanta any time soon. Nate's job is going well, and we're making an honest attempt to grow roots in Boston. But as with my dream to go to nursing school, moving home is always on my mind somewhere. And it would seem that either Atlanta, or my subconscious, is trying to draw that dream to the forefront.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Charlotte's favorite baby food: "orange mix"

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1 c. carrots (or baby carrots)
1 c. sweet potato
1/2 c. pear or apple
1/2 c. orange juice
1/2 c. water

Peel and dice all veggies/fruit and add to medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, cover, reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Let cool. Transfer to a blender and puree, adding cooking liquid and more water if necessary, until smooth.

I usually make a double batch and freeze in ice cube trays. You can begin feeding this mix to a baby at 6 months old. This recipe is a also great base to which to add other building blocks. As Charlotte has gotten older, I've added these elements (only one at a time): tiny pasta, cheese (ricotta or cottage), spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, or ginger), or vanilla.

Friday, July 08, 2011

on the flip side...

I always feel refreshed after I'm able to get out of the house for a walk with the kids. Charlie loves to be up in the backpack, and Vivi adores a walk around the neighborhood as much as I do. We had a heat wave here, and the past few days have been miserably hot. Fortunately the rain brought cool weather this morning. Vivi and I had a blast playing "I Spy" and singing all the songs we could think of about rain. Goodbye cabin fever!

betwixt and between

There's no blame for how our love did slowly fade
And now that it's gone it's like it wasn't there at all
And here I rest where disappointment and regret collide
Lying awake at night
-Death Cab for Cutie

Some days you hear a song that perfectly sums up the thoughts bouncing around in your head and presents them in pretty poetry. That happened to me today while doing the dishes and subconsciously contemplating, or even suppressing, my floating notions about my occupation status (housewife? yak. homemaker? even worse. stay-at-home mom? yikes.). Then along came Ben Gibbard with an unexpectedly poignant chorus about lost love. The way I feel about my old job reminds me of the breakup of old flames. I miss my job...sometimes. Like when Nate has a work trip to Costa Rica, and I am reminded of the fun business trips I took around the country. I love hotels; the little soaps, the free HBO, the room service, the tub, the continental breakfast, the chance to get away from my lovely children for a night or two. Ok, so I never got to visit Costa Rica, but who knew Columbus, Ohio would be so cool?

It's true, I never miss my job on Mondays. Or when I return from a vacation and have an entire day to do laundry instead of trying to fit it in when I come home exhausted in the evenings. And I don't miss the day-to-day grind, the endless (and often pointless) conference calls, the eye-roll-inducing staff meetings. But what about the occasional lunches with work buddies and plenty of meandering adult-topic conversation? The impromptu happy hours? Bagel Fridays? The cafe across the street from my office that had the affordable and delightful Cuban sandwich and the best lentil soup around? The ubiquitous office birthday cake? Oh boy, do I miss those times. Maybe I'll find moments like those again with other moms in my situation--they have to be out there, right? So far the playgroups have been a bust, but I'm committed to finding another outlet. Perhaps I'll join a book club, even if it means I have to glom on to the nerdy library club in our town that meets in a conference room instead of the standard coffee shop/pub. The bottom line is that right now my kids are my new job, and I'll have as much fun with them as I can, even if it means the occasional feeling of disappointment and regret.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

dark 'n' stormy

I'm in love with a new drink called a dark 'n' stormy. I love the taste, the name, the regionality, everything. I recently discovered it through a friend in a local Boston pub. I've known for some time there's much to love about alcohol in Boston, but it turns out there's even more than I had originally thought. The dark 'n' stormy is made of a Bermudan dark rum called Goslings and ginger beer. It made its way to Boston and other Nor'Eastern port towns via sailors who frequented Bermuda, where it originated. How cool is that? I love drinks with ginger because one of my complaints about drinking alcohol--aside from the red Polish nose--is that it occasionally upsets my stomach. But the fizziness and ginger settle my tummy. If you're not drinking alcohol, you could just get the ginger beer by itself. Ginger beer is non-alcoholic like ginger ale, but the spiciness of ginger beer can't be beat. I suppose the drink could be made with ginger ale, but you'd be missing out on the bang provided by ginger beer. I love this drink so much that I want to make it at home, but it can be tough to find ginger beer. Make my own, perhaps? Nate is gearing up to make his own beer some day down the road, so maybe I will. I already found a ginger beer recipe on a neato website I just discovered via a friend.  All this talk is making me thirsty. I know what I'm gonna be drinking this weekend!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Vivisms, vol 17

Vivi (to passers-by while hiking): Watch out for the woots!
Later, I was telling family about it, and Vivi said: "No Mommy, I didn't say woots, I said woots!"

Babci (my mom): Come cuddle with me!
Vivi: Keep your hands to yourself, Babci.

Me (on airplane): Please keep the window closed because Charlotte's sleeping.
Vivi: I'm just gonna take a peek.

Vivi: What are you doing?
Me: I'm opening this can with a can opener.
Vivi: When I'm a Big, I'm 'posed to do that.

Me: Do you want ketchup on your meatballs?
Vivi: Yes. I found the perfect spot for it.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Vogel 2011

My family has been going to Vogel State Park for a summer reunion since my dad was a little kid. It was, along with camp, my favorite part of the year when I was growing up; I would count the weeks leading up to when I would get to see my cousins again. I am happy to report that Vivi now loves Vogel as much as I always have. Charlotte attended her first Vogel this year and was welcomed with lots of kisses and well as many of the ever-present "Gerber baby" comments. She was the perfect baby as usual, sleeping 12 hours at night and 2 1.5 hr naps in an upstairs closet at my aunt's cabin. We stuffed ourselves at the group feed, swam in the lake, hiked to Helton Creek falls, played in a playground, shopped at the Blairsville Farmers Market, participated in the annual mini golf tournament, and played hide-and-seek with my sisters. Vivi and her cousin Anna played many hours of "the princess and the queen," with each of them constantly vying for position as leader of the pack. They love to be together, and by the end of the week they were like sisters, whining "she's touching me!" from the back of the car. I enjoyed spending a relaxing week with my family, and I'm already looking forward to next year. Let the countdown begin!


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