Archive for February, 2008


I took the car to be serviced this week. It took an hour and a half and Oli and I waited at the dealership for the work to be completed. An hour and a half with a good book or some knitting would pass very quickly. An hour and a half with an antsy 4 year old takes forever. During that time, my guy:
*Ate a donut (free donuts!)
*emptied the toy bin in the play area
*picked up the toys
*explored the bathroom
*decided to poop (what is it about public bathrooms?!?)
*got some water
*spilled it all over the floor and himself, by accident
*cleaned up
*danced to the muzak playing in the waiting room
*ate another donut
*sang a bit
*swiped my scarf to tie around a chair to drive a “horse carriage”
*galloped around the room
*ate a cookie
*gave me 12 kisses
*played with a plastic viking
*counted the snacks in the vending machine “1-2-3-4-5, 1-2-3-4-5, A LOT!”
*looked through a catalog
*opened and climbed around in every car on the dealership floor
*emptied out my purse in pursuit of toys
*skipped a bit
Finally, the car was ready. As we were driving away, I realized that next fall, when I’m doing these errands alone with nothing but a book for company, it will be so lonely.


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Oliver starts kindergarten this fall. To enroll him, I filled out stacks of forms, gathered up the required paperwork, made a special trip to get his birth certificate, and then headed to school with him in tow. Together we marched into the office and presented our forms. Whoops! Registration doesn’t start until next week.
For once I’m early with something. We’ll be first in line on Monday.

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Trash-picked Treasures

John found these at the curb in separate neighborhoods several weeks apart. The table top was all scratched up as was the bench.

They sat here in my family room, being used but not looking so great. I was waiting for inspiration to strike. While walking the paint aisle at the home improvement store, I stumbled upon a can of chalkboard paint. Yeah…..just what this set needed.

After a light sanding and three coats of paint – a perfect spot for my budding artist to bloom.

I have a lot of paint left over. We all know it’s more fun to write on walls and furniture instead of paper. This house has lots of walls. Oh, the fun I’m going to have!

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Baking bread

It’s snowing again and very windy here. Oli and I are hunkered in and not planning to leave until school’s out. I decided to bake bread. The house is so cold that the only place it will rise is in front of the heat vent. It felt very weird just plunking the pan on the floor and not having to cordon off the area from Calvin. That dog LOVED raw bread. Some classic Calvin moments: when he hopped up on the kitchen counter and smarfed an entire mushroom & anchovy pizza waiting to go in the oven. Lesson learned… not turn your back on a hungry dog. And another classic: he gobbled down two pans of rising cinnamon rolls before a brunch we were hosting. Just as guests started to arrive, he heaved them all up again. Ahhh…..Calvin….the things we miss without you.

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We hosted a family birthday party for my father-in-law yesterday. We made Mexican food and poured margaritas and served frosty-cold beer. And we had cake. Extra-special birthday cake.

First, bake a chocolate cake….any cake. I cheated and used a dark chocolate mix for the cake. Then defrost a bag of frozen raspberries and mix with a spoonful of sugar. Scoop out the berries and cover the bottom layer with them. Then coat the bottom of the top layer with choc. buttercream frosting (homemade and left over from brownies earlier in the week). Put layers together:

Now, here’s the extra-special part – the frosting. Chop up 9 ounces of good chocolate. I used some lindt bittersweet, callabaut white chocolate (to balance the bitterness….my kids aren’t crazy about bittersweet choc.) and some ghiradelli choc. chips — a real crazy mix.

Bring a cup of heavy cream to a boil and then whisk in the chocolate until it’s smooth and chocolately and smells so good it drives you crazy.

Cool the mixture for a few hours and then whip it until fluffy. Frost the cake.

And serve:
Even better than the cake (which was delicious) was having everyone together to celebrate the man who anchors this family. Happy Birthday Pop-pop. We all love you.

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Art in our home

Aside from our ship painting, we don’t really have anything that would be considered “real” art in our home. About as close as we come is the stuff created by our resident artists. My children are very lucky to have an art teacher at school who introduces them to different styles and media. They regularly bring home breath-taking projects that have been worked on for weeks. The walls in their school are covered with these creations and we felt ours should be too. All we needed were some simple matching frames and an empty wall.
Even better than expensive art….art from the heart.

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My Antique Roadshow Wanna-be

I love to watch Antique Roadshow. It’s thrilling to see how some things that look like junk can be so valuable. If there’s any item in my house that I could take to the show, this would be it:
John’s mother bought this at a yard sale over 20 years ago. While I have no idea what she paid for it, I do know her bargain-hunting abilities well enough to know it probably wasn’t much. For our first years together, John and I had this tossed in a storage bin, ignored and neglected. Several moves later, we decided to hang it up. After we read “Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea” by Gary Kinder about a side-wheel steamer that wrecked, we started to actually like the painting. The more we liked it, the more attention we paid to it. Come to find out, this painting is very old. It was painted in 1893. It features a side-wheel steamship called the S.S. Adelaide from the Great Eastern Railway Company. Isn’t she pretty?
It’s signed and dated by the painter though I can not read his/her name. It has a tag from a local department store with the date it was painted on it. Did department stores used to sell fine art?
Even if this is a total fake, it’s beautiful to us and, besides, it’s the only thing in our house that even remotely resembles “real” art. It is certainly worth more than the pittance for which it was bought.

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