Archive for June, 2009

Food Friday: Fabulous Housewives and a Champagne Dinner for Eight

June 26, 2009

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Who needs to be real housewives when you can be fabulous ones? A few brilliant and creative friends, (including Lucinda Wesson of creative design studio True & Wesson) recently engineered a send-off to a friend leaving our staid New England shores for sunny Florida. The send-off involved, among other things, a can of hairspray, seven pairs of false eyelashes, several pairs of tube socks and an awful lot of bronzer as we channeled a retro Florida fabulous groove in her honor. gorgeouslori

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Thankfully, the evening also involved a fantastic progressive meal (plus a stop in a local establishment before the main course to be SURE our outfits were appreciated). The menu? From “A Party with Fizz” in the June 2007 issue of Bon Appetite. The food? Fabulous.

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The complete menu is available here, and it was just terrific, from the Shiitaki, Goat Cheese and Chanterelle Pizza appetizers,  the salad, the Roasted Shrimp in Champagne-Shallot Sauce, the delicious Orzo Risotto and the amazing Blue Lake Green Beans with Lemon and Thyme that we all raved about.

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Menu cards and table design by Chocolate Creative Design/Lucinda Wesson, china and stemware from the extraordinary and lovely collection of the bronzest housewife of all, Heidi,  who bravely hosted this dinner.

I can only take responsibility for the Lemon Cream Tart, and hardly at that because (come closer, I’m going to whisper this) I didn’t actually make the crust, but used a premade one. I’ve never done this before, and I was really surprised at how okay it was. Or perhaps it was the champagnes paired with each course that dampened my ability to be critical of pie crust. In any case, the recipe is easy and so darn good, especially with a bit of Raspberry-Apricot Compote with Champagne and Lemon Verbena on the side. I’m just saying. Lemon Cream Tart Crust

  • 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 large egg yolks

Filling

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon (packed) finely grated lemon peel
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine (such as Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

For crust: Butter bottom (not sides) of 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Blend flour, sugar, grated lemon peel, and salt in processor. Add butter; blend until coarse meal forms. Add egg yolks; blend until moist clumps form. Gather dough into ball. Press onto bottom and up sides of prepared pan. Freeze crust until firm, about 15 minutes. DO AHEAD Crust can be made 2 days ahead. Cover; keep frozen. Preheat oven to 400°F. Bake crust 5 minutes. Press up sides with back of fork if falling. Continue to bake until golden, pressing up sides as needed, about 18 minutes longer. Cool completely. Maintain oven temperature. For filling: Whisk sugar, eggs, yolks, and lemon peel in heavy medium saucepan. Whisk in lemon juice and wine. Cook over medium heat until custard thickens and just begins to bubble, whisking constantly, about 5 minutes. Transfer to medium bowl. Cool to just warm, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Gradually whisk in cream. Pour filling into crust. Bake tart until filling is set in center and begins to puff at edges, about 20 minutes. Cool in pan on rack. Refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to 6 hours.

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If you have your own party, you’re going to need a little of this–SERIOUS hairspray and nearly illegal coral lipstick.

For the full, fabulous experience, enjoy our extremely fabulous slide show here.  And let me know if you are having your own fabulous housewives party, because I want to come!

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Preview: Brayden and family

June 25, 2009

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Meet Baby Brayden, who isn’t really a baby anymore.

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He arrived in a big hurry two years ago, deciding he needed to check out where mom worked (she’s part of Henry’s NICU dream team). He also derailed mom and dad’s attempts to see a Red Sox vs. Yankees game in person with his early arrival that spring, but I’m guessing there are a few more in their future. (You’ll be able to tell which side they were rooting for if you are a careful observer.)

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I’ve had fun watching Brayden grow these last two years, and I completely enjoyed the evening I spent at the beach with Bray, his parents and his furry sibling, Sadie.

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Sweet Sadie is a longtime member of the family, and suffered severe complications from joint surgery when Bray was a newborn. She is now an incredibly agile three-legged pooch who enjoyed beach time as much as the rest of us.

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Waving at boats in the boat channel.

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No shortage of water in the bird bath. We’re five inches of rain past our monthly average around here.

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Happy sneak peek!

Thinking you can’t possibly be three

June 18, 2009

Uh, wrote most of this on his birthday last week, but now he is three and one week, just for those of you keeping track.

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Dear Henry,

Today you are three, and all day long I was shocked when I saw you. Tall, lanky and so darn THREE, and I just have no idea how we got here so quickly.

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Henry with at least three pairs of underwear and one pair of shorts, donned Henry-style.

I do get it, you really are a three-year-old now. You dressed and undressed yourself today more times than I can count, and you sometimes put on up to five pairs of underwear at once, “Just in CASE, mama!” You would think by now I wouldn’t be surprised when I look up and see your naked bottom streaking by, AGAIN. You’ve inspired statements I never envisioned saying, like, “We don’t sit naked at the table, Henry.”  Or “We put on underpants to eat snack at the kitchen table.”  (To which he sings out, “No WE don’t, Mama!” And giggles.) You took yourself to the potty more than once, without even letting me know you had to go. (Now entering week three of potty training and on the upswing.)

You asserted yourself the way you never did when you were two, announcing exactly what you wanted your cake to be (a fire truck) and what you wanted to today (pick strawberries).

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The firetruck cake. Saved by a fellow nursery school mom who had the FIRE TRUCK PAN. Good friends to have.

You sang happy birthday to yourself over and over, you made yourself a birthday card and you insisted on the crowd favorite, THE BLUE CUP, for lunch and dinner. You have a true passion for animals, all animals, and need to be restrained around ones we don’t know, because you want to hold them and love them and cuddle them, unlike your brother who was fearful of most most four-legged creatures at your age.

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You would have been inside the pen, hugging and kissing that cow if I had let you, Henry!

But, for all your three-year-old bravado, you are still my sweet baby Henry. You like to play cat, and one of your favorite versions of the game is to curl up in my lap, meowing, and say, “I love you, mama cat!” To which I, of course, answer, “I love YOU, baby cat!” You are the kissiest and snuggliest thing on two legs—your lower lip trembles in the morning if you haven’t properly kissed the departing parent goodbye (“But I need to KISS YOOOOU!”). In the morning you come sleepily staggering into our room before 6 a.m. most days, but then snuggle up and promptly fall asleep, managing with the sprawl of one small body to exile both of your parents to the very edges of the bed while still lying on top of one of them and poking a finger in my eye or my ear.

You love reading book after book some mornings, but you LOVE YOUR FOOD and, unlike your brother who would only stop reading for a waffle with lots and lots of syrup, you’ll interrupt a book to ask, “What’s for breakfast?” And your favorite conversation starter, heard easily three times a day, is the casual, “What’s for supper tomorrow, mama?” Always endearing, but slightly less so when I am hastily trying to figure out what to put on the table for dinner TONIGHT.

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Ice cream birthday cone at the farm after a morning of strawberry picking.

Unlike your outgoing brother, sometimes the world is just too much for you, especially in the form of circle time at various toddler groups and classes. You might just die if you couldn’t cling to me like a monkey during those times (and when you can’t, you sob your heart out), and I never once had to chase you around music class like I did with Will. Your shy streak is deeply embedded, but when you decide to emerge from that cocoon, you embrace the world and new opportunities whole-heartedly. You’ve watched your brother spend two years at his beloved nursery school, and now you are eagerly anticipating your own nursery school days coming this fall—we can’t wait to see the different ways that you’ll take on your wonderful new school and new teachers.

What creative being you are! You love to color and cut and glue like your brother, and the two of you can spend hours lost in the tiny world of Playmobil. Your mechanically-inclined self would rather take a battery-operated toy apart to see the inside than actually play with it. You are the prankster and the giggler, and your father and I usually have to turn away so you can’t see us laughing when we try to be stern with you.

You are so incredibly inquisitive and observant, noticing the smallest details that Will might never have seen. (Me either–you get your powers of observation from your daddy, even if you look like a carbon copy of me at your age.) You’ve never been partial to one “thisy” like Will, but instead have a menagerie of blankets and baby animals that all need your tender loving care (and drinks of water), usually when you should be in bed falling asleep.

Which brings me to bedtime. You are newly transitioned to your big boy bed, and love it—no surprise, since we’ve been treating your crib like a daybed since about October. This spring you’ve decided that days with naps mean bedtime past 9 p.m., much to our chagrin. And when you’re still awake at 9 p.m., you fight the good fight, trying to negotiate one more back rub or suggest that you ought to be allowed to “play quietly” in your room. With your battery-powered drill. At 9 p.m.  Nice try, Henry.

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I look at you sprawled upside in your big boy bed, and wonder how any part of your sturdy, nearly stocky, body could ever have been small, sick and delicate. You startle me every day with how physically capable you are, and you warm my heart every morning and night with your sweet snuggle hugs and marvelous kisses.

We love you, sweet baby Henry! More and more each day. Happy birthday, and we’re so ready to take on THREE with you!

Love,

Mama

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Henry, hours after birth, June 2006

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Henry, six months old, December 2006

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Henry, 12 months old, June 2007 (Photo by Nicki Pardo)

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Henry, age sixteen months, October 2007. School photo timed perfectly to capture shiner in full bloom.

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Henry, age two, June 2008

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Henry, age 2 1/2, January 2009 (Explanation of shiner here. More black eye photos here.)

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Henry, age three and one day, with Will age 4 3/4 and friend Tommy, age 2 1/4

June 2009

Nikki + Rick: Married (slideshow)

June 15, 2009

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I just LOVED this couple, who traveled from their home in Colorado to enjoy a beautiful and sunny (one of the few this spring!) day on Cape Cod. Days before the wedding we were talking, and I said something like, “It can’t possibly rain any more, it has been raining for three weeks straight now!”

Well, I didn’t jinx their day, but I did jinx New England for the rest of the spring, since we’ve had only a handful of sunny, warm days since then. Good thing it was just sunny perfection for Nikki and Rick, because they had the most intimate, personal, emotional beach wedding (maybe the tears kept the rain away) and a vintage baby blue convertible to drive away in—two good reasons to really, really need sun.

I don’t think I could have asked for a more relaxed, fun couple and a great family surrounding them. Happy love, Nikki & Rick–I wish you lived closer!

Enjoy their slide show here.

Strawberries and turning three

June 11, 2009

I guess Henry must have taken a nap last year on his birthday for me to have written all this and posted it on his birthday.

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Will picked every one of these himself, stopping to ask, “Is this a good one?” after EACH ONE.

Today, I’m fielding requests of “Can I have another strawberry?” (Can a child actually suffer any physical ailments from eating THAT MANY strawberries?) and “Can I pee standing up, Will says I can?” (SAY NO if you get this question. I have no words for this, but picture a writhing runaway hose with the water on full blast.) and my more thoughtful birthday reflections will have to wait til this evening, after I figure out how to make a fire truck cake.

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Well, HELLO, strawberry. How you doin’?

We’ve had a great day so far, though—we were there for opening bell on strawberry picking season this morning, and picked 18 pounds without even really trying. Then we headed to the farm for animals and ice cream (Cows and Cones, of course.)  JUST IN CASE I have no thoughtful reflections later, I do have a few birthday photos. And a few extra strawberries, come on by if you’d like some!

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Crista, this one’s for you!

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Eat. Repeat.

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You knew he couldn’t wait any longer.

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Me either. Off to make strawberry smoothies!

Antonia + Bill: Married (Slideshow)

June 9, 2009

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A full blog post coming later this week, but for the time being, you can access your slide show here, Antonia & Bill! Happy love!

Happy birthday, Elias!

June 9, 2009

Wishing a happy birthday to one of our favorite five-year-olds today!

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(This was on a “whale watch” at nursery school yesterday—looks like he sighted something good.)

Why I didn’t cry this morning

June 8, 2009

Today is the last day of Will’s nursery school, a day to be topped on the emotional Richter scale of parenting only by the actual nursery school closing ceremonies later this week. (For example, they’ve been raising caterpillars who have JUST emerged as butterflies from their cocoons this morning and will be ready to fly free at the closing ceremony. Cue tears.)

I was fully prepared to be a weepy mess today, observing ONE LAST TIME the glorious traditions we have treasured for two years—morning play, then “time to ring the bell”  and finally their wild sprint (or for calmer types, a stroll) across the courtyard into the classroom. I came with camera in hand, trying to nail the perfect amount of blur in a shot of them running across the stone courtyard. I’ve tried a few times for the past two years to get it. This morning? Failed SPECTACULARLY.

It wasn’t all me. I’ve had some great coaching from this amazing photographer who is also a friend and nursery school mom, so I know what to do, and I was completely ready and in position. But some days they walk, and some days they run, and only a few ran today, and the rest of them strolled–not so good for the blur. And then, to top it all off, while the crowd dispersed around him, Will’s teacher noticed his shoe was untied, and stopped him to tie his shoe for him. (Have I mentioned I can’t stand these sneakers? OF COURSE they foiled me on my last day. And I see no reason why I should be washing socks in June when this child has more pairs of Crocs and sandals than any three kids need. NO MORE SNEAKERS TIL FALL!)

Anyway, so laugh with me when you see just how awful these photos are.

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(Will’s in the blue tee and jeans, getting his SHOE tied.)

And realize if I wasn’t laughing at them, I’d be absolutely sobbing at the end of what has been a wonderful, magical, amazing school experience for two heavenly years. I am so grateful to the entire CNS community–parents, teachers, board members and Will’s classmates for making the experience as beautiful as it was. I can’t dream of a better start to a school career for any child, and I know he will carry the lessons he has learned there with him forever.

Excuse me while I go find a tissue.

Food Friday: It’s a (smoked turkey with mango and curried mayo) Wrap

June 5, 2009

I know, I know, it has been so long since I’ve posted a Food Friday you’ve completely written me off. But just when you think you need to go elsewhere for sustenance, HERE I AM. And you might even forgive me for this on, it is so darn good.

I first had this a few years back at my friend Ellen’s house in Maine, who is one of those cooks who subcribes to food magazines and ACTUALLY COOKS FROM THEM. I promptly wrote it down, I remember it about twice a year, and each time I am just blown away by how yummy and easy this is for summer eating. And in New England, I keep seeing mangos for super cheap in the grocery store, so this is your time to try this out.

Other than that, I’ll keep the commentary short and sweet–MAKE THESE!

Smoked Turkey Wraps with Mango and Curried Mayonnaise

Curried mayonnaise

  • 2 teaspoons good curry powder (I love Zanzibar by Seasoned Pioneers)
  • 1/2 cup light mayonnaise (or regular, which is usually what I have)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Sandwiches

  • 2 lavash wraps, each cut in half crosswise to make four 12×12-inch squares (Not sure what that all means. Get wraps that you like and adapt as necessary.)
  • 8 ounces thinly sliced smoked turkey
  • 4 cups thinly sliced romaine lettuce
  • 2 cups thinly sliced seeded peeled English hothouse cucumber
  • 1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, thinly sliced

For curried mayonnaise:
Stir curry powder in heavy small skillet over medium-low heat until fragrant, about two minutes. Transfer curry powder to small bowl. Stir in mayonnaise and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

For sandwiches:
Place 1 lavash square/wrap on work surface. Spread lavash with 2 tablespoons (I like a little less, like half that) curried mayonnaise. Place 1/4 of turkey in center of lavash. Top turkey with 1 cup lettuce, 1/2 cup cucumber, 1/4 of mango, and 1/4 of cilantro. Top with 1/4 of avocado slices. Fold in short sides of lavash, then roll up like a burrito, enclosing filling completely. Repeat process for remaining 3 wraps. (Can be made 4 hours ahead. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap; keep refrigerated.) Cut wraps in half crosswise.

Courtesy of Bon Appetite and Epicurious.com

Antonia & Bill: preview

June 3, 2009

I know, I know–if YOU think I’ve been lax at posting here, try being one of the very patient couples waiting for me to go ahead and post some photos of their wedding, already.

Antonia and Bill eloped to Nantucket last weekend, and I was honored to be their witness and the eyes for their friends and family back at home around the country and the world. You get more of their story when I do a full blog post, but Antonia and Bill, here’s a quick peek for your mothers—and the rest of you can feel free to enjoy this carefree moment with them, too!

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How not to charm me

June 3, 2009

Remind me that you ONLY have TWO days of nursery school left before the closing ceremonies next week.

And then, haltingly, while biting your lower lip and trying not to cry, tell me you want to stay at your nursery school forevvvvvvver!

Me too, pal, me too.

We probably ought to rename this entry How to Make Mom Cry.