Saturday, March 27, 2010

One Fine Day... and Evening

A lunch date with Cartz & Jeff included visiting some chicks at a local pet supply store, followed by a meal from Chick-fila. Yeah...don't think about that too much.

Later that eve, a trek to REI to check out strollers (someone is outgrowing his) became all about bikes. I guess it's time for a big boy bike... Does every mom's heart seem to skip a beat upon seeing her bebe looking so grown up?

I love my family.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

No Soup for You

Not really. Plenty of soup here. But seriously, all this about...soup? Yes. You'll want to lick the bowls. That good.

First up: O'Lordan's Potato & Leek. If you haven't tried it, do! If you're local, you really want to get in the car or jog down the street, stat. Not local, find a way to BWI asap. Divine. Just devoured some last week for St. Pat's. Perfect with Orchard Spinach Salad and a Killian's Red.

The second soup that will have you asking for seconds: Greek-Lemon Chicken. Warmth at winter's end = my friend Judy's January-March "soup night." Mid-week during her demanding job in disaster relief, Judy makes 2 huge crocks of soup & invites friend's to drop by at their convenience for a bowl of culinary mastery, artisan bread, coffee, and conversation. My family loves this awesome community tradition (something, unlike, say 4+ feet of snow in less than a week that we won't miss after it melts). Recipe for last week's savoring:

Avgolemono, or Greek Lemon-Chicken soup

6 c chicken broth
1 sm onion
1 sm carrot
1 bay leaf
1/2 t salt
2 chicken breasts
1 c long grain white rice
2 eggs
1/4 c lemon juice
2 T chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Chop onion & carrot fine, saute till cooked. Dice chicken & brown. Place in a pot with broth, lemon & spices. Beat the eggs very well, add hot soup to them slowly and continue to beat, then slowly put the egg mixture into the soup (important: do not let the soup/eggs boil again). Add rice & simmer 20 minutes.

Beautiful, delicious, and perfect in every way. Σας ευχαριστούμε (thank you), Judy!

Uno mas. I have a dear friend & neighbor who makes incredible gazpacho & it seems the perfect soup to celebrate spring. Actually spring through summer, as it's served cold. I'm thrilled that she shared her un-recipe: "I use V8 juice as a base, then add whatever fresh veggies I can get, add many seasonings and olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, etc. I use the food processor and like it chunky...I guess it is something I prepare by the seat of my pants and we all seem to enjoy it." True, we do. Gracias, Dolly!

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Was it keys, spare change, an ear-ring? I had just returned from dropping Carter off at preschool, placed my hands in my coat pockets as I walked from the car, and felt something metal. MatchBox airplane. Melt my heart moment. A symbol of what I spent so long hoping/dreaming/praying (and paying a doctor) for.

Cheerios all over the car, the house that never stays clean (I mean n-e-v-e-r), a new blouse that becomes someone's handkerchief (while I'm wearing it), an over-tired child in the middle of an aisle, stiff-legged being loud, very loud, with displeasure about being at the grocery store(yes, this did happen once. okay, twice.)—these are also signs of what I wanted/hoped/longed for. And it's wonderful, actually—I like and laugh about the Cheerios thing, and I learn from the others. What stands out even more are requests for "little hug, Mama?" or dancing the "hopping dance" in the kitchen, or pointing up to show me a nest in a tree at the park. I get happy, like beaming happy, when my kid eats heartily, and even wants more. When he pees on the potty. Or tells me he'd like to paint with "dark blue" next. Dark blue, not just blue, uh-huh, that's right, my son the genius! When he shares a favorite toy with a friend. When he races his race-cars on the train track.

It feels right, for me, to be at home with this little person. For this season. What feels right for most of my friends, is working, and it really is right for their families. For many, it makes family-time more treasured. I'm also mindful that there are countless moms, or dads, who'd like to be home and don't have the choice--I know to value just having the option as a gift. While, I'm pretty confident about where I want to be, I feel pressure to validate my decision. To combat that, I have been a volunteer/fund-raiser/member for maybe one too many causes, boards or committees. I've also tried to be an at-home chef extraordinaire, and attempted to create the most awesome at-home kid activities. All good things. Totally important. But, for me, all things to be done with balance, and not to justify a choice that I really needn't pressure myself to justify.

Antidote? Still figuring that out, and learning what to say yes to, and when to decline, and I hate that learning curve... But more so, I think it's simply cherishing this precious time, the blissful mingled with the melt-downs, the laughter and the runny noses, Jeff reading bedtime stories to our babe and the sleepless nights, bright new days (or "Sunny Day!" as Carter exclaims) and also the days of running on empty and caffeine. It's looking forward to the next stages, but not wishing the current one away. And decidedly, purposefully embracing the ordinary...finding in it, extraordinary joy.

These are the moments,
I thank God that I'm alive,
These are the moments,
I'll remember all my life.

—Edwin McCain

Tangible hope. A great way to send it:

Monday, March 1, 2010

Brick Ridge

Jeff & I could not recall the last time we went out to dinner just the two of us, so when a dear friend, here for a working vacation, offered to stay with Cartz for an evening, it gave us a little vacay, too! Note to self: dates are good. Thanks, Cheri.

For this super fun date, Jeff and I went to our fav Carroll County restaurant, Brick Ridge. The gorgeous brick building used to be a schoolhouse, now a "green" (windmill-powered & more) eatery serving fresh, innovative "lessons" on familiar U.S. classics: San Fran Scallops, New York Shrimp Risotto, Indiana Meatloaf... They also have clever and delicious "state of the week" specials. Ooh, and a really brilliant vino list. Can't wait to go back!

Lot's of other fab info here:

Speaking of wining and dining...and incredible music...for a great cause, please check out Unplugged for Haiti at The Austin Grill this Sat:


Jeff, Carter, & I are immensely enjoying our time with dear friends visiting from Nicaragua & Texas—so incredibly fun to see places we know through new eyes. I have to be honest, the grey weather of late has me longing for warmer climes, like the Emerald Coast of FL as in this pic of Carter. Our friends Sarah and Cheri keep saying how pretty it is here. "Really?" I think, "you mean all this grey?" But I'm starting to see (again) what they see.

I long for fresh bulbs and new green, but before starting to sing their praises, I'm pausing to admire the powerful season melting into the next.

A favorite quote: In the depths of winter I finally learned there was in me an invincible summer. —Albert Camus

And a warped one (long live SNL): Too bad Lassie didn't know how to ice skate, because then if she was in Holland on vacation in winter and someone said "Lassie, go skate for help," she could do it.” —Jack Handy