28 March 2011

Eat Local and Organic Expos

Week one back in the workplace was wonderful. I got right back into the groove, and it felt (in a good way) like I never even left. Julia and Sergio did just fine at home without me; she's eating and sleeping well and Sergio's having a blast.

So what better way to put a cap on that first week of transition and to prepare for the second week back - and to celebrate Spring, despite the snow! - than to see all my farmer friends and to stock up on fresh food at the Eat Local Expo last Saturday in Independence.

Forsythia for spring - Independence Expo

I bought a big batch of salad greens, micro greens, scallions, carrots, and my favorite spring delicacy - peashoots. The snow outside my window last night seemed far, far away from the newness and freshness of the scallions and peashoots that I was packing into my salad for lunch today.

I'll be going back for more next Saturday at the Eat Local and Organic Expo in Shawnee. See you then?

21 March 2011


"I'm beginning to perceive motherhood as a long, slow letting go,
of which birth is just the first step." - Sandra Steingraber, Having Faith

Yesterday Julia turned 6 months old. Yesterday we fed her her first solid food. Today is the spring equinox. Tomorrow Sergio starts his 6-month parental leave ... and tomorrow ... I go back to work. It is a weekend of transition for all of us.

baking cookies with baby

I am confident in my decision to return to work full time. Over the last 6 months I've wondered if I would be; I'm so pleased to discover that I am. There are things I'm looking forward to about going back to work. Even though it is hard to say good-bye to my maternity leave. Everything during my final week of leave felt sort of ceremonial. Wednesday I baked cookies all afternoon; Thursday we had a play date at the park (a play date for the mommies more than the babies); on Friday I dressed Julia in my favorite outfit of hers, we ran some of my favorite errands (3 grocery stores!), I had 2 cappuccinos and I only cried twice. These are all petty little things but since it was my last week of leave, they managed to take on greater meaning. (And - to clarify - it wasn't the cappuccinos that made me cry - it was Julia's smile.)

playing at the park

The things that I will miss during the day: Julia's many sweet expressions; her limitless and indiscriminate curiosity (Oh, is that your phone? Can I see it? Oh, is that your water bottle? Can I see it? Oh, is that your khun ma pad thai? Can I have some?); the way she gums everything, even if it tastes weird or is uncomfortable (the rough side of the velcro strap or a piece of paper); and - of course - nursing. I will so look forward to savoring all of these things when I come home every night.

breakfast with Daddy

And during the day I will savor the knowledge that she's in good hands with her dad.

20 March 2011

Six Months

6 months old • 13 lbs, 15 oz • precious and happy and goin' places!

18 March 2011

Local Thumbprint Cookies

I've been wanting to make these cookies for a long time now. Although I wasn't sure it was precisely these that I wanted to make. I just wanted cookies that involved pecans and jam (local!) and couldn't find what I wanted in my big book of cookies (apparently not big enough). But that was last year and my supply of jam started running low and I couldn't bear to use the last of my precious preserves in a cookie, so I forgot about this idea.

thumbprint cookies

But, this year I did a MUCH better job of stocking my "larder" and - even as we are approaching spring - I have an ample supply of jams, jellies, preserves, and butters. Then I was reading my colleague Andre's blog and saw not one, but two thumbprint cookies recipes. Neither of those was quite what I wanted, but they reminded me of my forgotten quest and sent me to this PERFECT recipe.

most of my ingredients came from somewhere close by

I made these with my local Heartland Mill flour, local Shatto butter, my own local peach jam (ever and always so pleasantly reminiscent of my grandmother's fried pies), local eggs, and the last of my Missouri pecans. Only my vanilla and sugar came from "undisclosed" locations.

baby-wearing and cookie-rolling

When you consider the provenance of my ingredients and thus the carbon footprint of my version of these cookies - "thumbprint" does seem like an appropriate name. (PS: I didn't actually use my thumb. My nifty trick to ensure uniformity was to use my half teaspoon to create the indentions.)

melt-in-your-mouth buttery, crumbly

These cookies were EXACTLY what I had been wanting.

15 March 2011

33 beers: Cantillon Grand Cru Lambic

This month I've been craving beer way more than usual, which I'm sure is due to Sergio enjoying - and then blogging about - a different beer each night to celebrate his 33rd birthday. You can read about each beer, see each beer buddy, and watch each video at his blog 33beers.net. But here you can read about tonight's beer as I'm copying onto my blog my post as guest blogger from his blog.

This week our symphony season tickets renewal packet arrived in the mail, complete with a map of the brand new Kauffman performing arts center. (What does this have to do with beer? Serge, I think your guest blogger had a leetul too much to drink!) (It does have to do with beer! Wait for it…) Sergio evaluated the map to find the best seat in our price range; he always knows how to find the best seat in the house. I’m ignorant when it comes to acoustics, so I’m lucky that I’m always sitting next to Sergio and thus I’m always getting great seats.

As it goes with acoustics, so it goes with beer. (See!) Sergio has a more finely tuned palate than I do. I don’t know much about beer; but I know what I like. And most of the time, when Sergio recommends a beer to me, I like it. And so I’m lucky that I’m always drinking beer with Sergio, and always enjoying some really tasty brews.

Tonight’s beer was an experience unlike any other. It was the least beer-like beer I’ve ever had. And definitely something I couldn’t have appreciated without Sergio’s insights. He shared all his recently-acquired knowledge about lambic ales (or “iambic,” as the autocorrect wants me to say – which is appropriate for the Ides of March, says Sergio) and I was better able to enjoy this peculiar, flat, sour ale that reminded us of something … What is it? … Something … Can’t put my finger on it … Ah ha! Sergio figured it out (of course)! That’s what it is! (Watch the video to find out.)

11 March 2011

From the Library of Julia ... and Emily

I was inspired by a post on my friend Seana's blog and by the "6 by 6" program that I saw recently at the JoCo library (6 skills your child should develop so she will be ready to read by age 6 - a great program. Seriously. Click on it.). So, I decided to write about some of the books that Julia and I have been reading. Well, I've been doing most of the reading. Julia does all the squealing, giggling, and - occasionally - gnawing of the books when she can get her hot little hands on them.

Also, in my googling, I found this great website - ReadToYourBaby.com - where I learned some helpful insights on "parentese," ("Parentese is not baby talk - oo es da cootest witto baby in da wold - which is unintelligible. Parentese makes language more intelligible.") which have already influenced my conversations with Julia.

These are some of the highlights from her library, from my library, and from the public library ...

Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton
They say that babies will respond to lilt, meter, and intonation when you read to them. Sandra Boynton's books have some delightful lilt and meter. I intersperse my own interpretation of "Turkey in the Straw" throughout the book. We also have Belly Button Book - "Bee-bo!" - equally sing-songy and well crafted. I like the books that are actually well written - not the ones that sound like they were written by a computer - "Butterfly. Silky Wings. Touch the rainforest!"

You Are My I Love You by Maryanne Cusimano Love
I read this one to Julia when she was an itty bitty tiny baby newborn. The title sounded cheesy and the illustrations weren't my style, so I wasn't expecting much. But by the end of it I was in tears. Maybe I was extra susceptible in my post partum state. But, nothing I've read - for adults or for children - has done such a sweet job of describing the balance between parent and child.

So ... when they say that babies respond to lilt and intonation, I'm pretty sure that also means that you can read them the phone book and if you use the right lilt and intonation, they'll enjoy it. So since Julia can't really tell the difference between a Pulitzer prize winner and Is This My Nose, I figure I might as well get some of my own reading done while I'm helping Julia along the path of literacy. But don't worry - I am reading her the more age-appropriate texts almost every day.

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
I loved Interpreter of Maladies and The Namesake - so when Unaccustomed Earth came out, I was pleased, but was inexplicably put off by the title. Until I read the introductory quotation from Nathaniel Hawthorne - "Human nature will not flourish, any more than a potato, if it be planted and replanted, for too long a series of generations, in the same worn-out soil. My children have had other birthplaces, and, so far as their fortunes may be within my control, shall strike their roots into unaccustomed earth." And then I remembered why I love Jhumpa Lahiri and why her work moves me so.

Alice Waters and Chez Panisse by Thomas McNamee
I found this book on the shelf near all the baby food cookbooks I was hunting down at the library. I thought I would just read a few pages of it at the library and leave it - but I got hooked on the story and had to bring it home with me. It read like a captivating A&E biography or something made for TV. It was highly entertaining and read quickly. And - because I read about it in an exaggerated tone - Julia got a big kick out of how the famed, crazed, 40-year-old Chez Panisse has - amazingly - only recently started generating profit.

Same Same by Marthe Jocelyn and Tom Slaughter
Another one I picked up at the library was this one - a super simple book of illustrations - three on each page that are similar. Things that make music, things that are striped, things with four legs, etc. One thing from each page joins the trio on the next page - it makes for a great association game. Fun to read and it'd be a fun activity, too, for an older child. Not much rhyme, lilt, or meter - but such a fun idea. And I think Julia could appreciate the high contrast illustrations.