photo by lanola stone

"When so I ponder, here apart, what shallow boons suffice my heart, what
dust-bound trivia capture me, I marvel at my normalcy."--Dorothy Parker

Thursday, July 21, 2011

New Beginnings

A day of tinkering as I sat at the Cabin, enveloped by fresh air and a grove of aspens, has yielded a new blog design.  (Thank you, Susan, for entertaining the monkey.)

From now on you will find me  here.  Don't forget to hit the "Follow" button at the top of the new page.  It's nice to know who one's friends are!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Creative Endeavors

I know, it has been months (months!) since I last posted with any regularity. If you haven't done anything with that rhubarb recipe by now, you never will. I could say that my absence was because we had friends and family visiting through May and June, after which we decamped to Utah for a month of summer holiday...All of that is true, but usually that kind of business would be fodder for my camera and this journal.  No, the truth is that the little guy pictured above has been monopolizing whatever creative energy I may usually possess. I couldn't be more willing to let him. In every other way he has been treating me far better than his sister did. A month of slight queasiness, a couple of weeks of narcolepsy, and I was back to my regular self (maybe happier, given the lack of PMS).

Yes, him.  His father had out-of-town business on the day we were to find out that he was a he, so Violet and I thought we should have a little show and tell waiting in the front hall when he dragged himself in late that night from his travels. An enormous smile spread across his face, and his eyes moistened for maybe the fifth time in our entire married life. I found myself whispering, Every man should have a son, and, suddenly, I believed it. 

He, for whom we will spend the next few months in a frenzy of trying to find a suitable moniker, has the very same due date that his big sister did, December 5th.  Apparently March Madness was not a one time occurrence.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Seasonal Experiments

The first visit to our neighborhood farmers market was admittedly disappointing (come on, Upper East Side, we can do better that this!), but it did give rise to one of those Hmmm, what can I do with this? moments, as there was an abundance of rhubarb and little else. I hadn't eaten rhubarb, outside of the occasional rhubarb strawberry pie, since I was a little girl gnawing on the tart, bitter stalks in my grandparents' backyard, and now, tasting them again, I can't imagine why I would have done that. But they have a distinctive flavor, and I figured there had to be a way to make something refreshingly savory out of them. I spent Sunday afternoon scouring my favorite cookbooks and the internet for ideas, which were meager, and then went with my own intuition instead. What ultimately ended up working was a variation on my own Simple Shaved Fennel, which is in nearly constant use around here. Maybe it's just my odd taste buds, but I found the result of the rhubarb version to be uniquely appealing, perhaps even crave worthy. If you are mad enough to try it, please let me know what you think!

Savory Rhubarb Salad

Raw rhubarb, thinly chopped
Freshly squeezed lemon juice
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt

Marinate rhubarb in olive oil, lemon juice, and salt until slightly soft, at least 15 minutes.  Just before eating, sprinkle generously with sugar.

Simple Shaved Fennel

One bulb of fennel, shaved
A few fennel fronds for color
Juice of 1 to 1 1/2 lemons
Extra virgin olive oil
Rice vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
Sea salt
Carrot, shaved, up to equal amount to fennel (optional)
Red onion, thinly sliced (optional)

Toss veggies in lemon juice and olive oil, then sprinkle lightly with rice vinegar and salt.  Let marinate in refrigerator 1-24 hours.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Jorge el Curioso

The trail of BandAid wrappers began in the bathroom where the medicine cabinet hung open, clearly having been recently accessed.  I followed the tiny scraps, seemingly more numerous than was possible from a single box, until they led me to her room, where colorful cartoon strips had been pasted in an organized fashion across the breadth of the chair back.  I was just opening my mouth to protest when she turned her big blue eyes upon me, exclaiming happily,  "Look at all the Jorge el Curiosos!  Just like the book!  I am reading it to them!"  My mouth closed.  After all, what can one say when confronted with not one, but two, mischievous little monkeys?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday Music

I found this group while searching iTunes for Thanksgiving music last fall. I  was initially drawn to their renditions of "For the Beauty of the Earth" and "Count Your Blessings," but now the whole album is a Sunday staple. Coincidentally, they are from the area where I grew up. Love it. Available for purchase on iTunes or on their website here.

Friday, May 13, 2011

High Tea

The cakes, the sandwiches, the stained glass and palm trees. Tea at the Plaza is one of the more extravagant things to do with a group of tiny girls on a weekday in New York (aside from the American Girl flagship, may my shadow never darken its door), but as it was arranged by our friend Sara, resident photographer  and part-time fairy godmother, how could we resist? The girls were in their best dress and all aflutter, being thoroughly impressed by the menus, the tea trays, and the general splendor of the room. The staff was incredibly gracious, even once the shoes came off, and the food was delicious! Making our way out onto Fifth Avenue after a splendid afternoon, we all agreed that we are going to have to make this a yearly tradition.

All photos courtesy of Sara Blackburn (

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Must See

It was just like being a 17-year-old kid again, sitting on the floor in the basement of the Victoria & Albert museum in London, sketchbook in hand, being transported to a fantastical other-world by garments the like of which were never to be worn by myself or anyone I knew. The Romance and Art of Fashion is something that I have allowed to fall by the wayside as I have been lured by necessity, year after year, into a more pragmatic existence. Frankly, I have come to think of most fashion as ridiculous and unbearably chichi. It is nice to know that the embers of fantasy are not completely extinguished within me, though, even if it did take the Met's tour de force exhibition, Alexander McQueen, Savage Beauty, to reignite them.

If you should find yourself in NYC anytime before July 31, go. Go! It is a once in a lifetime show. McQueen's suicide last February may have assured his swift ascent to legend, but the clothes, if you can call them such, were his true legacy, and they must be seen in person. Feathers that transform women into large, mystical birds, leather corsets that require no form to fill them, headdresses that suggest a dark, medieval landscape, gowns completely composed of glass or seashells; these rank among the finest of art and are just not the same in pictures. That being said, if you cannot make it to the Met, here is a taste of what you are missing:

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Springtime on the Farm

When I was little my Grandpa had horses, and when we would visit he would choose the mildest ones for us to ride, bareback, as he led them slowly around the pasture behind his house, nestled up under the mountains in Springville, Utah. We loved to watch the horses eat their hay in what then seemed like an enormous red barn.  Years later, after the death of my grandmother, he married Cathy, and the red barn, which now seemed much smaller, came to house a menagerie, in addition to the one remaining horse. In fact, the kid goats, baby chicks, and the like are so fascinating to the great-grandchildren that I'm afraid the poor horse now gets no attention at all. Of course, he may not mind all that much.

Did you know that baby goats only have teeth on the bottom?
(Violet's conversation starter with everyone all week)

Downy blonde girl meets downy blonde chick

Feeding time in the coop

My grandfather is ninety-three years old this week. He is a sweet, righteous academic with a wicked sense of humor. No wonder I married the only man I ever met who reminded me of him. She is Violet Stella, after his mother, and every time we visit I take their picture together because I want her to have a memory of how much she loves him.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hitting the Lanes

Not that they don't have bowling in NYC, but somehow we have never gotten around to it. Here, though, it seemed like the perfect thing to do on a Monday night. Though  this was her first time, she instinctively stripped down to leotard and tights (currently worn most days under a sweater and tutu).  No point in letting loose clothing get in the way. It mattered less that the ball reached the pins than that while it wandered slowly down the lane she would have time to do some twirls and leaps on the slick wooden floor. Good thing her cousins are so patient. So was the guy who worked at the bowling alley, who had to go rescue her ball twice when it stopped dead before reaching the pins.