Tag Archives: parenthood

Dining Tables, Junk and Table Runners

When we married, Engineer’s family from out of town graciously offered to give us money for a dining table in lieu of wedding gifts. I thought that sounded fine, and expected we would buy one in the near future, once we were out of student housing. We used a hand-me-down table in our student apartment, and then when we left, we accepted a small hand-me-down from a cousin for an apartment out in Los Angeles. We didn’t yet have a place lined up, but we knew it would be small. Just about everything we could think about affording in LA would be small. The dining table fund languished and sat, being absorbed into our general savings. Never used, mind you, but it lost its distinction. Years past. We moved from one apartment to another, before relocating back to Utah. This time, we packed up for the last time: we moved into our home. We brought our hand-me-down table back, knowing it would be temporary. We could have left it; but we did need something until we found a table suitable for our space. Our little dining table fund had sat for 3 years. After moving in, we began looking for a suitable replacement for our hand-me-down table, which took much longer than I expected. But, my expectations had grown. I wanted something stylish (not distressed–I did not understand buying new furniture meant to look old), but in addition to being stylish, it had to be sturdy. In addition to those very basic needs, it also had to speak to me. I had come to expect that dining table to be a gathering place. As we began to plan to start a family, I envisioned children gathering at the table doing homework while I prepared dinner. I saw our family eating dinner together, laughing and enjoying being together (that’s how you know it’s a dream–when do children ever love dinner time all at the same time? Someone’s always crying about what’s for dinner) The dining table came to represent home and family, all the things I dreamed would be. Now, the dining table didn’t just need to be stylish and sturdy. It needed to be perfect.

table runnerAbout a year and a half after we moved in, we found our table. It’s bar height, has two leaves, and with one leaf in, is a square pub-style table with seating for 8. The top is a dark espresso finish while the legs and chairs are painted black. It has a simple bevel edge and is lovely. When we bought it, I was still working full-time and we didn’t have children. The table, instead of being a gathering place for conversation and laughter, became a landing pad for junk mail, books, and anything else we didn’t want to put away. It became a giant catch-all. Continue reading

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Frog nog {Spinach Smoothie Recipe}

I think I am officially the last person to jump on the green smoothie bandwagon. I had such a hard time getting past the color for some reason…I suppose it doesn’t help that my friend calls it frog nog with her girls…it’s a clever sounding name, I’ll grant you, but it sure doesn’t sound appetizing to an adult.

But, I was desperate. After a week of birthday celebrations for Engineer, we just hadn’t eaten in enough to get through all the greens from our CSA. We still had a bagful of kale, and I needed to use it, pronto. I remembered seeing some green smoothie recipes in my Real Simple magazine from a few months back, and pulled it out. I made some minor adjustments based on what I had, and I threw caution to the wind. Or the blender, as it were.

ImageWhen it had come together, I tasted it. I could taste the bitter kale, and worried that Sous Chef would turn her nose up at it even though it wasn’t very strong. I added a frozen banana to try to mask the flavor. I’m not a big banana fan, so that was a real gamble for me. I poured myself and Sous Chef a glass, and she devoured it.

Absolutely devoured it.

And then asked for more! She drank two (kid-sized) cups full of kale smoothie, and I knew we had found a winner. I used the rest of the kale in smoothies throughout the week until Sous Chef complained of a sore mouth (the main fruit was pineapple…) and I ran out of kale. She begged for more, so I tried a variation on a different smoothie recipe from the Real Simple magazine and found a real winner. The kale smoothie had been easy enough to get down, but this spinach smoothie…now it was a treat! Continue reading

Distractions

I’ve been floating.

When I started this blog, I got really excited about mastering food photography, and tried to take photos of my food almost every day. But, I struggle with exciting plating and props. And, I struggle to take photos of dinner, because I usually don’t start it early enough, and we’re all ready to eat by the time I’m done. And, let’s be real. It’s really hard to plate dinner beautifully! I have a new respect for those who can plate a humble dinner in a beautiful way.

And, I do have lots of hobbies.

No, this isn’t my goodbye, don’t worry.

It’s just a way of explaining that I have been away from my camera (though not away from the kitchen, to be sure!) and spending lots of time in my sewing room. I’ve been in my sewing room working on a couple of quilt projects.

And I’ve been sewing aprons.

Lots of aprons.

A few years ago, I made matching aprons for my sister-in-law and niece. She loves them! Since then, she’s had another daughter, and is expecting another one in September. She mentioned a while ago, hinting, really, that she would like another one for her youngest daughter (even before she found out she was pregnant…)

And help me, but when someone appreciates a gift I make, I can’t help but honor a request when they ask for an encore. I bought some cute fabric I found at Joanns, and while I was at the cutting table, reconsidered and asked for enough to make myself and Sous Chef one as well. I walked out with a lot of fabric, which is often overwhelming, honestly.

Months passed…we found out she was expecting again…then we found out she was expecting another girl…and I renewed my resolve to finish the aprons once and for all.

I finally did. It took hours; I thought making them all at the same time would streamline the process, but I don’t think it helped as much as I thought it would. But, that’s okay. I’m happy with how they turned out, and promptly boxed them up and shipped them off. apronWell. She loved them. I hope her girls like them. Because my Sous Chef does NOT like hers. Oh well. Three-year-olds are hard to please. Maybe someday she’ll embrace it, hopefully before she’s too big for it…

Baking Traditions

Traditions are a funny thing. We like to think they are always important or relevant and that’s why we continue to do them. Some are meant to bring us closer together, some are meant to remember important dates. And some stick out to some of us, but not as much to others. One tradition from my childhood that sticks out to me revolves around baking (big surprise). One of my favorite traditions as a child was making chocolate crinkle cookies at Christmas time. However, I also recall asking my mom when we were going to make said cookies, and her reply being surprise–to her, it was not a tradition.chocolate sugar cookies

Nevertheless, it remains an important memory to me. Rolling the chilled chocolate cookie dough into balls before dropping it into a bowl of powdered sugar, waiting for them to come out of the oven, the kitchen and dining table piled with baking sheets.

Which, of course, is how you know the memory has become exaggerated: there can’t possibly have been more than two or three baking sheets in various stages of baking at any one time. Still, it’s a very tangible and happy memory for me, one that always brings a smile to my face, even when I think about how shiny our palms would get with the sticky cookie dough. Continue reading

Sensory Experiences

This ain’t your mama’s Disneyland, folks…

AG cupcake

Disneyland has changed, my friends, over the past five years or so, and is attempting a food revival. Gone are the days when the only sustenance available was churros and turkey legs! Okay, maybe there were never days when that was all you could get; I’m sure hot dogs and hamburgers were always available, too. I remember as a child eating at the Village Haus in Fantasy Land, and getting expensive hamburgers that weren’t all that impressive. Okay, you’re right, I don’t actually know that they were expensive, because I was 5.

Still. My positive memories of eating at Disneyland mainly revolve around smelling the churros. Not eating them, mind, but smelling them. Continue reading