Monday, March 25, 2013

a tragic situation, beer and potatoes, the end

So this weekend I had a bit of a...err...situation which could have, but didn't, resulted in me burning my house down. I swear sometimes I wonder how in the world I am an adult. I put my lovely turquoise tea kettle on to boil and took a very dirty egg yolk covered Margot into the other room to change her. Then I discovered globs of egg yolk in her hair and determined that a bath was necessary so we bathed and played and ran naked, and played with clothes and got dressed and played with shoes and put some shoes on and low and behold 45 minutes later....Complete destruction of my tea kettle!!!! I had black molten splotches all over, the handle attachments were melting and flopped over, there was smoke and the kettle itself had started to melt onto the burner coil on the stove. Chris was of course at his office and so I did what every mature adult does in these situations. I turned off the burner, put my child down for a nap and called my Mother. 

Long story short. Tea kettle and burner coil are toast, I got to trek to glenwood to an appliance parts store for a new coil and I am now mourning the loss of my perfect tea kettle. This was it.

See perfect. The color matches all the accents in my kitchen including my vintage turquoise canister set. And the shape is lovely. And there is no cheep ugly plastic. But I am finding that this particular tea kettle is a one of a kind which they no longer make and everything else is just depressing. I would have been in complete despair if it hadn't been for Dublin coddle. Have you had Dublin coddle??? It's freaking amazing. It's basically a giant steaming pot of meat, potatoes and lovely broth. The ultimate comfort food and so easy to make. It only has 6 ingredients. Here’s the recipe:

Dublin Coddle*

4 slices thick cut bacon
6 English banger sausages (meat counter market of choice)
4-5 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled, thinly sliced
4-5 carrots, peeled thinly slices
2 onions thinly sliced
One can chicken broth or two cups homemade chicken stock

In med. Non stick skillet fry bacon medium heat, set aside. Brown sausages in same skillet in bacon grease, set aside. Pour out most of grease, leaving about 1 Tb, cook onions until they begin to brown, about 10 minutes.

In Dutch oven or oven safe pot with lid, assemble. First spread half of onions on bottom, season with salt and pepper, layer half potatoes on top of onions and season with salt and pepper. Lay bacon over potatoes and sausage over bacon. Cover with second half of onions, season with salt and pepper, carrots, season with salt and pepper and finally remaining potatoes, season with salt and pepper. Pour broth over the top. Cover and bake at 375 for two hours.

*This recipe is my own adaption of several online versions which all claim to be from someones Irish grandmother

Eat with crusty bread and drink lots of new castle brown ale and you will feel so happy you will almost forget the tragedy of your broken tea kettle until morning when there is no longer English ale and potatoes to console you. The end.

The Art of Self expression

I have lots and lots of fun dressing Margot. I was telling someone recently that besides cooking I feel like my only other hobbies these days are dressing myself and dressing Margot. But as much fun and I have picking out her little outfits I am starting to love watching her pick things out herself. And let me tell you that child already has some opinions. She loves to pick her own shoes and I mostly let her. She also likes to pick her dress for church. I usually get 3-5 weather appropriate options and then let her choose one. And there are days where she is not wearing the item I have selected and so we pick something else. But this weekend...this weekend was the dawn of a new era my friends. The era that I imagine will become known as the tutu era.

Earlier last week I got Margot this tutu skirt at a baby consignment sale. Margot went crazy for it. And as long as she sees it she wants to wear it...end of discussion. She is also very partial to this funny purple and green hand knit sweater. And those ballet pink shoes are another favorite.
Sure she looks rather ridiculous in this get up but she was so proud of it and she walked proudly all of the neighborhood enjoying the sun, the outdoors and I imagine the beaming joy of dressing herself. And after all isn't this an important part of ever childhood.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Food Notes

1. I'm basking in a wonderfully delicious and comforting dinner of garlicky, buttery, herby, sauteed shrimp, with green rice, and sauteed broccoli with garlic and red pepper.

2. Margot LOVED this dinner. She started her meal by polishing off 5 whole shrimps in 2 minutes followed by an adult size portion of broccoli. This child loves food and I couldn't be happier. She eats whatever we eat including Indian food, Thai curry, fish, kale, spinach, brown rice, buckwheat noodles and so on. The only thing I have found her to not like is avocado and raw tomatoes. I think it helps that both my Mom and I feed her a great variety of good flavorful food. We feed her whatever we are eating and if she doesn't like something we don't force it but we also don't give her an alternative and we simply try the food again several days later. Usually after a few tries she will embrace it.

 3. Have you all heard of the Frugal Gourmet? I recently picked up on of his books, The Frugal Gourmet cooks American, at St Vincent de Paul's and I'm in love with it. From what I can tell he had a cooking show in the 80's. I'd love to find a DVD of it.

4. My favorite wine is Malbec, it's a hearty red wine from south America. It's great with strong flavors which made it the perfect pair for my garlicky spicy dinner.

5. The farmers Market opens in two weeks. We can't wait. We have missed our saturday mornings at the farmer's market so much. And our CSA starts back up in just a few months. Despite today's blustery rain spring is coming....and with it so much good food. Hello spicy mustard greens, fresh young asparagus, leeks, salad greens and fresh peas!!!!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Time Passes with lots and lots of joy

We all know time goes by so quickly. One minute we have a screaming newborn and the next we have a jabbering toddler who is drinking milk from a real cup!!! The constant growth of our little girl aside I realized last week that I have been back at work full time for just over a year now, 13 months to be exact. For some reason this milestone really struck me.

When I went back to work I thought it was the hardest thing EVER. Sure it was hard to leave Margot, but what was really hard was juggling it all. I went back to work at my 40-50 hours a week from the beginning. Starting with week one I returned to lots of 7am meetings, 5pm networking events and city council meetings from 7pm-10pm. But this isn't designed to be a post about how hard being a working Mom is. On the contrary. Sure Margot and I had a challenging adjustment at times. Two weeks after returning I had my first day where I practically didn't see her at all. Pumping sucked and sucked and then it sucked some more. For the first 6 weeks I was back at work Margot woke up every single freaking hour to nurse all night long! I was a walking zombie for the first few months. But we got through it. Each week it got a little bit easier. We got better at juggling our time, we changed our expectations of how we ran the house, we streamlined dinners and we started to find balances.

I don't like the term work-life balance. I think it creates a misconception that there is a perfect balance out there that we should all be able to achieve. I think we just do what we need to do. This can be a challenging time in our lives. For us, and for many of our friends, we are young and new to our careers. We are still trying to pay off loans and build up our financial stability and we are trying to be the best parents, spouses and friends we can be.

Chris and I have an admittedly crazy life. And I know that many people think we work too much and take on too much. To some extent that's true. I have found a lot of joy in being a working Mom. I love my job and I love working. I enjoying getting dressed up every morning and being out in the community working with interesting people and on interesting issues. I love the crazy rush of an issue campaign, the energy, the ideas, the off hours meetings over beer and of course, the win! I also love the time Margot and I have together. Because I'm away from her all day I feel like our time together is so precious. When we are together it's all about playing, reading, snuggling and enjoying our time. And I love our reunions each day, the head tilt smile from her, the REAL hug and the jabbering all the way home.

I think, for me, working makes me a happier person and that makes me a better wife and mother. The truth is that I dreaded returning to work after Margot was born but I was so wrong. Returning to work has turned out to be a wonderful thing for me and I'm so grateful to have that part of my life and to have my funny Margot.

Margot and I a few weeks ago before Church. She is wearing a wool dress coat and matching bonnet that was mine as a baby.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

A hoppin' saturday night

My darling husband is out of town this weekend at an attorney retreat for his firm. Last night I'd made plans with one of my "besties" to get take out and make martini's. We had a great time. Tonight my grand plan was to balance my check book and do budget stuff--I know...I'm so much fun...Sadly I left my flash drive with my budget spreadsheets in my office so...not so much budgeting will happen tonight.

Usually I am really bad at being home alone. I get bored, then lonely, then I become terrified. Usually I become convinced someone is going to break into the house or that Chris is out in grave danger somewhere. I always assumed I was just slightly unhinged in this regard. But last week Chris' and I were reading our Myers-Briggs personality profiles and this is actually a trait of my personality. I am in ENFJ (extrovert, intuitive, feeling, judging). Apparently only 2% of the population has this personality type. Chris' is the same personality type except he's the extroverted version. And only 1% of the population is his personality type. One of the traits of his personality type is "INFJ's are usually right and they know it...they often don't listen to others". Not even kidding and believe me it's true. We read these a few nights after getting into an argument. We don't often argue but often when we do it usually has to do with a political issue or an issue campaign I'm working on that we don't agree on. Election season is a blast at our house let me tell you.

Since budget fun is off the table for my evening I think I will have to break out my new book. I did end up loosing the vote earlier this week and in my despair wandered into my favorite book store downtown where I persisted to by myself an amazing book on mid century interior design, it's called Atomic Ranch and it's wonderful. So I'm off to obsess about designer furniture and imagine how I'll decorate my dream house.