Thursday, May 27, 2010

Lena Beach

An afternoon at the beach with good friends. I don't like to admit it, but there are some days when being a stay at home mom is really not tough.

I'm Cooking: Green Bean and Cremini Mushroom Saute with Bacon, Baked Brown Rice. Not a vegetarian meal, but low on the meat anyway. I had no recipe here, kids weren't so keen, but Bryce really liked it.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sunshine and Spruce Tips

If you live in Juneau, then you know. Oh my goodness, the weather! I'm wearing flip flops and sweating. The kids are laying around moaning about the heat. It's beautiful, and we've been spending a lot of time outside. I've also cooked a little bit, but done absolutely nothing else productive.

Porter and I gathered some spruce tips the other day and made Spruce Tip Shortbread. Yum! It was so easy and very Alaskan. Thanks to Jennifer for the inspiration. Here is her blog entry on spruce tip jelly (which is great, I know, because my jar is half gone) and other edible ideas. Lots of links.

We've also had Pasta with Broccoli and Sausage, and Dungeness Crab Quesadillas with Braised Mustard Greens. We haven't been very successful in the fishing department lately (although I did catch a double ugly with the Superman pole the other day, and Porter proclaimed me an awesome fisherman). But our crab pots have been full. A person can only eat so many crab legs (I know, my life is tough), so I've been searching for more recipes. The quesadillas were good! The kids even mostly ate them.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Doctor's Office

Molly had her 18 month check up today. 22.5 pounds! Totally healthy. The doctor said she could give me a referral to the speech therapist. I declined. She got a couple of shots, and is now in the post-vaccine super nap that I admit I look forward to.

Porter went with us, and I have to say I got kind of annoyed. He knew it was just Molly who was getting looked at today, and was happy to go. The doctor walked in the room (she's very nice and not scary), and tried to engage him in conversation. She's a pediatrician, she's good at little kid small talk. Porter just glared at his lap, wouldn't talk to her, wouldn't make eye contact, and finally ended up clinging to me in my chair. She didn't push it, but she did try a couple more times later to talk to him, and he refused.

I know what's going on with him. He's shy (for lack of a better word). He doesn't do great with new people and new places. He needs time to warm up. I get it, because I am the exact same way. But he also needs to learn how to handle life since these things come up every day. It is important to me that he be polite. And he comes across as being quite rude a lot of the time in these situations. I don't feel like I should have to prompt his responses at this age. I think he should be able to respond to simple questions and say thank you and good bye, especially to someone like a doctor, when I am right there.

I'm really at a loss to know how to do this though. I know it's hard for him, but I need him to be polite. I've gotten mad at him in the past, but I know that doesn't do any good. We've had a lot of talks about how other people feel sad when you don't respond to their questions. How it is rude to not say thank you when the post man gives you a sticker. And he is very serious and says he understands. But it doesn't make a difference. I know that if I prepare him for a situation on the way there, like I could have done today, then things go a little better. But then nice old ladies talk to us at the grocery store or we run into a friend at the park, and he just stares at his shoes. And I can't predict everything.

I honestly don't know what to do. Except wait. But I'm tired of telling him what to say or talking for him when he is clearly old enough to do that himself. Any ideas?

Friday, May 21, 2010

What are you talking about?

Both of my kids have been late talkers. They understand everything that I say for quite awhile, but keep their own opinions bottled up. Who knows why. I worried and worried about Porter and his lack of speech, and then all of a sudden he just started talking. And now, of course, I am begging him to Please Stop.

Anyway, Molly has given us a few bones, a few instances of mama or papa or Porter or hot. But if you ask her to say something? Not a chance. She purses her lips together and acts like she is really interested in a speck on the floor. Whatever. It drives Bryce crazy. But over the past few days, she finally has a word that she will repeat and use in the right context.


She will say it after you. She will point at a doll or an actual baby and say it. Or even sometimes point at herself and say it. Clearly a word.

I remember what Porter's first word like that was too.


This sort of makes me wonder. I wonder how much is just innate gender differences and how much I play into it. I certainly never bought Porter a doll or a baby stroller. I never told him he was pretty. I do those things with Molly without even really thinking about it. Now, Porter definitely showed an interest in cars way before he ever even owned a toy one, and Molly definitely notices babies and dolls and really just people more than Porter ever did. But still. I've seen Porter play with the stroller recently (even if he is driving dinosaurs around in it), and I feel bad that I never even gave him that option. I suppose these things are going to happen almost no matter what I do. But I don't want either of my kids to feel like certain toys or colors or ideas are off limits to them.

So. Baby. And car. I'd like to think my kids are more complicated than that. But it does make birthday shopping easier.

I'm Cooking: Tandoori Chicken with Zucchini, Jasmine Rice, Yogurt and Cucumber Sauce. I love this marinade for chicken and lamb. I added the sliced zucchini in for the last 30 minutes of marinating and cooked them with the chicken. It is best grilled, but I also chop chicken breasts and cook them on a baking sheet in a very hot oven and it's almost as good. For the yogurt sauce, I mix about a cup of plain yogurt with finely diced cucumber, garlic and a little bit of salt. It cuts the spice of the chicken, especially for kids. Molly seems to not mind spice at all, but Porter is not much of a fan.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Is it only Wednesday?

We are having a busy, long week here. I swear it's the weekend already. We've had a lot going on and I'm sick and Molly coughs all night and Bryce is never home and I'm done. But really, it's not that bad, I just feel like complaining. I haven't cooked much either. But I did get some aged Gouda at Costco the other day that is super awesome. You should check it out.

Tonight, for the definite highlight of our week, we attended a 5th birthday party. It was at the beach, in completely gorgeous Juneau weather, with hamburgers, beautiful cupcakes, kite making, and a pinata. Kid perfection. And the birthday girl was adorable.

I was going through my pictures, and just had to laugh when I saw this. I mean, PBR makes every 5th birthday party better, right?

Monday, May 17, 2010


Today I tried really hard to get a good picture of the kids together. It didn't work, but this one made me laugh. I think it's the constipated look on Porter's face.

I'm Cooking: Quiche with crab, green onions, sun-dried tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. Just things I had left in my fridge, but it was good. I also let Porter make a couple of "pies" with the leftover pie crust dough (really just dough with cheese mashed inside over and over, and a sprinkle of sugar), and that is all he had for dinner.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


Happy birthday honey! I hope you get to come home from work and help us eat your birthday cake. We miss you.

I'm Cooking: Tomato Basil Crab Bisque. This was fantastic! And after you've shucked all the crab, it's super fast and easy. I don't even think you'd have to use fresh crab as there are a lot of other flavors going on. I didn't use the 1/4 cup of clam juice or extra water, just added some chicken stock to make the right thickness. Also used less flour and a little tomato paste instead of the ketchup and didn't puree it (I like chunks of crab). Delicious.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Flume Trail

Earlier this week, we went on a lovely walk, and it just smelled like summer. Porter and Dawson really enjoyed themselves.

This morning, on my continuing quest to feed my family healthy food, I took Molly to the natural foods store to buy some organic meat. This being Alaska, there was not a huge selection. And it was expensive. I think it is worth the price, but we either have to start catching a lot of fish or eating more vegetarian meals to make up for it. I also needed some artichoke hearts, and the can of organic ones was nine dollars. That might be one thing I am not buying at the natural foods store.

I'm Cooking: Bryce is rarely home for dinner these days, so I am a bit less ambitious when my only audience would rather eat mac and cheese. Last night we had baked chicken breasts, stir fried baby bok choy (not eaten by small children), and Jasmine rice. I also made brownies. This is my all time favorite brownie recipe from the Fannie Farmer Baking Book. It is basic, but always turns out excellent. Yum.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Big Hoop

Little girl.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Porter and Molly were having foot races in the living room this evening. It was really dang cute to watch Molly running so hard and with such determination. Even more cute was when Porter let her win a couple times (without me even saying anything). And then later, he was not so cute when he shoved her over and sat on her head for "cheating". We're working on it.

Bryce is working a lot these days. Nothing out of the ordinary, but it makes my fuse very, very short sometimes. I hate it. I know I'm not alone in the awful husband work hours (I don't even have it the worst for sure), but I often wonder how everyone else copes.

I bought myself a new vacuum cleaner yesterday (for my Mother's Day gift). Exciting, I know. Except that it actually is. My old vacuum has definitely seen some love. When Bryce and I first moved up to Alaska eleven years (!) ago, we drove up with that thing strapped to the roof of my Subaru (which I also still have). It has picked up dirt faithfully since then, until the other day when it started making this god-awful high pitched noise that made me scared to turn it on. So I finally went out and got a new one, and wow. I think I just didn't realize how crappy the Hoover really was until I got one with a little power. Plus it's BRIGHT yellow. I like it.

I'm Cooking: Last night I made a Butternut Squash and Sage Lasagna for my vegetarian meal. It's from this cookbook (mom, it's that pumpkin lasagna from your friend). I knew it was an involved recipe, but I didn't look it over all that closely before I started. And oh goodness, it was one of those meals that has a lot of steps that require much time, if not any real skill. Perhaps not the best choice for Monday night. Anyway, the result was good, I really liked it. The kids didn't eat it, but I wasn't too surprised as I ended up doling out a lot of snacks to keep them out of my hair and happy while I was trying to finish. I'm not linking to the recipe here, because if I'm going to make something that takes hours and dirties every pot in my kitchen, it had better be totally amazing. Now, lasagna is hard because you can't really taste it before it's all done and too late. But I think next time, with some adjustments, I could make this recipe amazing and really worth the effort. I'll let you know and post more then. In any case, a vegetarian lasagna is a good choice for a meatless night.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day Post

I had a fabulous day yesterday. Nothing fancy, but thanks to Bryce I got five kid free hours to do whatever I wanted. I honestly couldn't remember the last time I was alone in the house. I drank tea and read my book in the sunshine. I tried unsuccessfully to fix the vacuum cleaner. And then, I didn't really know what to do with myself. Sometimes I'm not very sure what I did with all my free time before I had kids. But I basked in the quiet and enjoyed every moment. I also received a lovely hand-made gift from Porter that involved a hand print in clay. He made it at preschool and was so proud to have a surprise all his own. And then we went out to dinner and for a walk on the docks. Perfect.

On Mother's Day I also, of course, called my own mother. She really deserves an entire week of posts devoted only to her. But for now, I want to say that I'm really, really, very sorry for all the stupid things I did as a teenager. I'm sure it's all going to come back to haunt me in a few years. And that the measure of her greatness can be summed up in my completely hysterical reaction after she left to go home after her visit for Molly's birth. We dropped her off at the airport, and Porter burst into tears. I had been trying to hold it in, but I cried so hard for so long that Bryce actually suggested we move to Oregon. It was that horrible I guess.

I miss you mom! You are the greatest cook, confidant, friend and grandma ever. I love you so much. I hope your day was as nice as mine.

On another note, the reason that mouse in my last post is so freakishly big is because it is actually a vole. Even through a blurry picture, my brother in law Graham is an expert.

I'm Cooking: Over the weekend, I made Crab Cakes. I like this recipe since it is all stuff you are likely to have in your fridge (except the crab I guess), and as long as you don't make the cakes too big, they stay together well when you fry them. But I think crab cakes are pretty much awesome no matter how you make them. I also made a batch of buttermilk pancakes, substituting the buttermilk with plain kefir. They had a wonderful taste, and the kids ate them up. Lastly, I made these Coconut Lime Cookies. I absolutely love lime anything, so I thought they were great, but the kids weren't so keen. They are a delicate, soft little cookie, and make your house smell fantastic while baking.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Frogs and snails and puppy dogs' tails

Porter brought me a gift this afternoon. Yes, it is a dead mouse that he found outside. You're welcome for the lack of focus on the gift itself. When I turned around, I actually screamed, and he looked so disappointed at my lack of appreciation that I felt bad. I did make him take it back outside and wash his hands really well though.

I'm Cooking: Last night I made Shepherd's Pie with carrots and turnips. As usual, Molly ate three bowls and Porter (who has an aversion to mashed potatoes) said the meat was contaminated and made him sick in his mouth. Lovely.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


I've been keeping up fairly well with new (and healthier) breakfasts around here. We still have bagels on occasion, but I've stopped buying frozen waffles and other assorted crap. And I've rediscovered my love for oatmeal made with milk. I had gotten in the bad habit of buying those instant oatmeal packets, when making real oatmeal really doesn't take much longer. I make it with milk instead of water and a touch of salt. The kids like it with some cinnamon and a dollop of honey, but I love it plain. Porter told me the first time that he wasn't going to eat it, and then he had three bowls. Then last night I adapted the apple cake recipe with healthier ingredients and less sugar to serve for breakfast this morning. I thought it was pretty good, but the kids didn't really eat it. So I'm still looking for some healthy, easy baked goods to make and freeze.

Last night for our vegetarian meal I made a mushroom, Swiss chard and Gouda tart along with a green salad. I honestly wasn't expecting a great reaction from the kids, but seriously, when I pulled the tart out of the oven Porter exclaimed "wow, that is the greatest dinner EVER!" I can't even explain it. They both ended up picking the mushrooms off, which I understand (I wouldn't eat mushrooms myself as a child), but they ate big pieces (chard included). Woo-hoo. It was tasty, and Bryce totally missed out as he had to work late, as usual.

Anyway, for the tart I started with this Martha Stewart recipe, but tweaked it a lot. I had a lot less mushrooms and more greens. I cooked the onions and mushrooms together and seasoned with salt and pepper. Then I cooked the chard (stems removed and chopped) in a little chicken stock by itself and squeezed out a lot of the moisture. I used about 2 cups of grated Gouda, 1.5 of which I put on the puff pastry first. Then topped with the chard and mushrooms. Then sprinkled the rest of the cheese over the top and finished baking. It was really easy, and could be changed around with all sorts of different vegetables and cheeses. Yum.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Our day here did not start out so well. For no real reason, all three of us were in a foul mood. There was much whining, complaining, crying, yelling and slamming of doors. Ugh. And then we had to go to Wal-Mart. I try to avoid this as much as possible, but today we just had to go. We only had to get one boring car seat, but it is just impossible to come out of there having only bought what you walked in for. So we came home with this...

And oh my goodness, it rescued our day for one crazy, kid freak-out hour. Eleven dollars well spent, even at Wal-Mart.

I'm Cooking: We had another boring pasta dinner here last night. I've been thinking a lot about our family eating less meat lately. I mean, how we need to do it. And how we don't. One or two vegetarian meals a week seems like a very good idea, and really not a big deal, even though we are all avid meat eaters. My first one is up tonight, and I'm excited. More on that tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

And it all ends on an apathetic note.

So, there it is. Molly is officially weaned. Last week, I was down to one nursing a day. And for the past two days she hasn't nursed at all. When I put her to bed yesterday without it, I was a little sad. And Molly? Didn't care. At. All. Just went right to sleep. Same thing tonight. I suppose she can't be forever a baby.

But she can always be my baby.

I'm Cooking: Last night I made some crab pasta. Crab, cream, lemon juice, tomatoes. It was good, but not the ultimate crab pasta recipe I've been looking for. We'll be eating a lot of crab this summer, so I'm sure I will revisit this later. In any case, Molly and I ate a ton, and Porter ate one bite. That's almost a success.

Monday, May 3, 2010


We had a good weekend here. Bryce worked a lot, but we still managed a nice dinner with friends, a trip to the park, putting in the vegetable garden, and we found an awesome little spot for our crab pots. Which means we got to eat a lot of crab. And even put some away in the freezer. We're really hoping to stock up on fish this summer.

For the garden this year, we planted broccoli, kohlrabi, two kinds of lettuce, spinach, carrots, radishes, cucumbers, zucchini, parsnips, Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts, green onions and snap peas. We also started some asparagus, although I think it'll take a couple of years until we get any. After the past two summers of valiant effort, I have pretty much given up on tomatoes and bell peppers. It's sad, but you just can't force nature. At least I sure can't.

I'm Cooking: More fresh crab. Also, I made this Italian Style Guacamole last night. It sounds weird, but it was super tasty on french bread and raw veggies.