As I mentioned in my last post, I have become quite the little pinner on Pinterest. If you’re new to Pinterest, it’s basically a set of online bulletin boards you create to save (pin) ideas and images you see on the internet. When you click the image, it takes you to the site from which it was pinned. I have a board for recipes I want to try, ideas for stuff to do with Nolan, pictures of kitchens I like for when I win the lottery or become famous, etc.
I spend most of my pinning time on food and house stuff, so I am frequently directed to blogs. I’ve been amazed at how accomplished people seem to be! Professional-looking photographs, elaborately themed birthday parties, Halloween costume creating extravaganzas – you name it, people are doing it and they are kicking ass at it. Sometimes I wonder, why am I having so much trouble? If I can cook a meal, bathe Nolan and watch one show on my DVR, I consider that an unusual success worth celebrating with a glass of wine. Sure, many of these women don’t work outside the home, but neither did I for nine months.
Doesn’t everyone use electrical tape to create avant-garde art?
Forget about just growing herbs, you should build the container too!
Ok, this one I actually want to do. But I know I’ll never get around to it. So now I feel bad again.
Then the essay “Your Children Want YOU!” started floating around and I felt a whole lot better. Read it. Right now. Hurry! The title might turn off readers without kids, but I really believe the sentiment applies to everyone. It’s not just about people’s relationships with their children, it’s about people’s relationships with everyone important to them. Your kids (friends, loved ones, coworkers) won’t like you more for hand-crafting their favorite flowers in fondant icing. They like you because you because you’re thoughtful and loving. (If you’re not thoughtful and loving, well, they probably don’t like you as much.) That’s not to say that completing a project or creating something beautiful isn’t satisfying and wonderful – it is! But we should use sites like Pinterest and Facebook for ideas and inspiration, not to make us feel inferior and useless.
So go forth and multiply your pins! Just don’t get down on yourself if you never make that rainbow layer birthday cake.
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Hey, world! Here are a few things that have kept me busy and piqued my interest lately:
Pinterest – holy mother of all time suckers. I have a whole post on Pinterest in the works, but if you haven’t pinned, get busy.
Bronx Zoo – we went here yesterday for a birthday party and it was so fun. I go every few years and each time I think, Wow! I need to get here more often. It’s lovely and so nicely cared for.
Cooking Food Stuffs – the aforementioned Pinterest has kept my kitchen BUSY. This BLT Quinoa Salad is delicious, these Crispy Southwest Chicken Wraps taste like they could be from a restaurant, and if Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars sound like something you might enjoy, then you have to make these. If they don’t sound like something you would like, please leave. Or see a mental health professional STAT.
Reading – being back at work and reading the literary gems of high school students keeps me pretty busy so I haven’t been reading much fiction lately. I started the memoir Bringing Up Bebe and really enjoyed it but had to return it to my library since it was a 7-day loan. English teacher + mother of baby = not finishing a book a week. I’ll probably buy it from Amazon next time I’m on there. So in about five minutes. I think I’m the last woman on Earth to read 50 Shades of Grey. It’s on my to-do list for the summer.
ABC Kitchen – Matt and I went here for lunch over the April vacation and had a pretty amazing meal. I will say this, the place tries really hard. A little too hard if you ask me. It’s a bit over curated for my taste and just felt kind of forced. Everyone was friendly, the food was original and delicious but the space and the “uniforms” were a bit of an eye roll. Is it weird that I’m being a snob about a restaurant’s snobbery?
This Guy – he’s been keeping me busy and happy Here he is doing some work on Matt’s computer.
And enjoying some Starbucks:
What about you, friends? Read anything great lately or have something worth sharing?
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I returned to work almost two months ago (where does the time go??) and wrote about it for Long Island Parent Source:
Before I gave birth to our son Nolan last April, my husband Matt and I planned and saved and determined that I could take maternity leave for nine months. At the start of my leave, nine months sounded like forever. I had the summer to look forward to, the back-to-school whirlwind I wouldn’t be a part of, the holidays – it seemed like so much time. And in many ways, it was so much time - I’m well aware that some women return to work after a few short weeks! That being said, even after taking an extended leave, returning to work was really difficult. Continue reading here…
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The kitchen is a room that is easy to fill with expensive goodies. Appliances (big and small), fancy knives, pots and pans – thousands of dollars spent faster than you can say Crate and Barrel. The good news is that there are tons of useful, fun tools and gadgets that aren’t pricey but still making cooking easier. Here are some of my favorites:
Microplane Zester ($15.95) - a must-have for zesting citrus fruits, you can also use this for fine shavings of chocolate and cheese.
Citrus Reamer ($3.95) - while it certainly doesn’t have the power of a large electric juicer, this little sucker makes it surprisingly easy to get tons of juice out of citrus fruits. This is a favorite of mine when making cocktails!
Steaming Basket – an easy way to gently cook vegetables and it’s invaluable for making baby food!
Liquid Measuring Cups ($11.95) – did you know that liquid and solid measuring cups aren’t the same? It’s true. One cup in a dry measuring cup is different than one cup in a liquid container. It makes a big difference when baking because you need precise measurements. This measuring cup from Crate and Barrel is pretty with its green markings, don’t you think? Pyrex and Anchor make sets of these in different sizes for very reasonable prices.
Cookie Dough Scoop ($12.95) – If you bake cookies with any regularity, using a scoop helps keep the cookies a consistent size so everything cooks evenly. It also keeps your hands clean (that is until you start eating cookie dough).
What about you, fellow home cooks? What low-cost gadgets and tools are invaluable to you?
Posted in Cooking | Tagged baking, Cooking, shopping | 2 Comments »
Rewind ten weeks: My last post was about my New Year’s Eve menu – yikes!
Fast forward four weeks: I go back to work after nine months of being home with Nolan.
Rewind three weeks: I spend most of January throwing a pity party for myself about my impending return to work.
Fast forward four weeks: Nolan starts crawling (for real, no more belly scooting), gets his first tooth and Matt takes this picture to mark Nolan’s nine month milestone.
Fast forward four weeks: I am back at work long enough to feel like I never left, but not so long that I forget what it was like being home. I painfully miss our routine. I simultaneously envy our babysitter for being home with Nolan all day, and pity her for being home with Nolan all day because it’s harder than ever now that he is on the move.
Play: Today is Nolan’s first haircut. Disaster! We bring him to the barber that Matt uses and everything is fine until the barber puts that smock around his neck. There is no recovering after that. The next ten minutes are a blur of crying (real tears and snot!) as a helpless Russian man waves filthy toys in front of Nolan’s face to distract him. The one he is really pushing is an outdated electronic toy that not only has hair encrusted all over it, but also dirt so old it might have come from the mother country.
I promise to be better about posting from now on. It’s my St. Patrick’s Day resolution.
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If you’re lucky enough to not be the host for the upcoming holidays, do your host a favor and bring a thoughtful gift!
If you can bake, try Martha Stewart’s lime meltaways. I blogged about them here.
The Barefoot Contessa’s Orange Chocolate Chunk Cake is really impressive and not too challenging. Food Network has the mini-cakes version that appeared on her show, but the whole cake, which is made in a bundt pan, is found in Barefoot Contessa Parties.
If you’re not really a baker but you can turn on an oven and you own a spoon and an 8×8 pan, you can make some jazzed up brownies. Start with a box of Ghirardelli Double Chocolate brownies and get cracking. Peppermint Brownies are perfect for the holidays and a cinch to make. Pour half the prepared batter in the pan, layer six large peppermint patties across the pan (or a bunch of smaller ones) and cover with the remaining batter.
Nothing goes better with brownies than peanut butter so microwave a few tablespoons of peanut butter for 15-30 seconds to soften it, pour three stripes across the batter and run a knife perpendicular to the peanut butter to swirl it through. Wowee zowee.
If you know your hosts are wine drinkers, choose a bottle for them to enjoy when they’re not crazed with guests. And please, step away from the white zinfandel! If you’re a wine novice, ask the salesperson for a suggestion and don’t be afraid to communicate your budget (even if it’s $10), there are a lot of good choices at every price.
Of course there are many great websites with beautiful gifts. Check out Terrain, Wisteria, Beekman 1802, and for gorgeous personalized photo gifts that are surprisingly well-priced, you can’t beat Pinhole Press. I bought a ton of gifts there this year.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged baking, Christmas shopping, gifts, holidays, hostess gifts, recipes | 1 Comment »