Monday, October 31, 2011

October 31

Cal's fourth year as a shark; Abbott's second as Anakin Skywalker. My kids know what they like.

Happy Halloween.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

the way it went

We usually make it to a pumpkin patch before Halloween; yesterday, we visited Craven Farm. I like this farm because it is incredibly picturesque, and it’s quite large, such that I’ve never felt crowded in the pumpkin patch or the corn maze, despite the crowds that come. Their corn maze is the best I’ve found in the region – 15 acres! This year, we went through it Hansel and Gretl style, leaving a trail of Kettle Corn.

I wish you a very happy Halloween.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Curried Peanut Soup

Curried peanut soup. I served it for my very first dinner party. I was in my early twenties, new to Seattle, and I invited my new friends Debra and Allan over. I lived in a studio apartment and didn't own a dining room table, but my kitchen had a built in breakfast nook that comfortably accommodated two, and could fit three in a cozy way.

When I started flipping through the three cookbooks I owned to plan a menu, I came across this recipe, and knew instantly that I had hit the jackpot. Allan has a weakness for peanut butter. He used to talk about hiding his peanut butter jar from himself (not sure how that worked) to avoid snacking on it. He still sometimes brings up this soup in a daydreamy sort of way.

Curried Peanut Soup
from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest by Mollie Katzen

This is a hearty soup, intended to be a main course. Between prep and cooking time it takes close to 2 hours to make, most of it simmering time. Everything can be done in advance; just add the buttermilk after reheating, just before serving.

The Soup:

1 Tbs butter
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 large cloves crushed garlic
2 tsp freshly grated ginger root
1 tsp salt
1 cup chopped raw peanuts
1/4 tsp each: cinnamon, cloves, ground cardamon or coriander
1/2 tsp each: dry mustard, turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin

In a large saucepan, saute the first five items together over for a few minutes over medium heat, until the onion begins to soften. Add the remaining ingredients and saute another 8-10 minutes over medium-low heat, until the onion is well cooked.

Next, mash the following ingredients into a smooth paste:

2 cups stock or water
1/2 cup natural (unsweetened) peanut butter
a handful of raisins (optional)
1 Tbs honey
1/4 - 1/2 tsp cayenne

Add this to the above saute, mix and cover. Simmer over very low heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Whisk 1 1/2 cups buttermilk into the hot soup just before serving.

The Topping:

2 fairly green bananas
juice of 1 lemon
3 Tbs butter
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp turmeric
dash of salt
1 Tbs sesame seeds

Peel the bananas and thinly slice them on the diagonal. Place them in a shallow bowl with the lemon juice for 10 minutes.

Heat the butter in a heavy skillet. Add the bananas plus all their lemon juice, and sprinkle with the salt, spices and sesame seeds.

Saute, gently turning and stirring, for 5-8 minutes over medium-low heat. (It's ok if the bananas lose their shape.)

Spoon a few pieces of the banana topping into each individual bowl of soup. According to the recipe, 'Your mouth may attain enlightenment'. Allan and I would have to agree.

Yield: 4-5 large servings

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

this lake

Typically, I run for exercise. I have one friend I walk with regularly, but she’s out of the country right now. Today I had some time between appointments, so I took the opportunity to stroll around Green Lake, a favorite walking spot, camera in hand.

When I was in Texas a couple of weeks ago, I realized for perhaps the first time that not all parts of the country experience autumn in as dramatic a fashion as we do here. So here are a few fall images for those of you in those parts of the world with an autumn that comes and goes without fanfare.

Monday, October 24, 2011


Thunderous morning rain gave way midday to brilliant autumnal sun. The kids’ coats were still damp, from rainy recesses, when we got home from school this afternoon. It warmed to the point of opening windows. I rushed an early dinner to get us outside for a brief walk. Soon, very soon, there won’t be any light after dinner, or, for that matter, when we sit down to eat. The convergence of blue skies and evening light felt all the more precious for their obviously fleeting nature.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

he who seeks beauty will find it

We watched Bill Cunningham New York tonight; I found it tremendously inspiring. Don't miss it.

I hope your week gets off to a good start. xo

Friday, October 21, 2011

October 21

Today, I had a couple of doctor's appointments; afterwards, I had a late lunch at the Oddfellows Cafe. The cashier called me 'Miss', and I'll sheepishly admit it kind of made my day.

I made a curry yesterday, and had some leftover ginger. I used it this evening to make ginger sidecars - so good!

Well, whatever your plans, have a good weekend. xo

Thursday, October 20, 2011

at this point in October

I felt out of sorts much of the day. I think, mostly, I wasn't prepared for the return of the rain, for the wintry light. We've had a spectacular October up to this point. At the end of the day, as I was putting dinner on the table, the clouds lifted, just at the edge of the horizon. Just enough to see the glow of the last of the light as we ate dinner. Just enough.

PS - Still at habit, through the end of the month.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

something to think about

“There are many people, particularly in sports who think that success and excellence are the same thing and they are not the same thing. Excellence is something that is lasting and dependable and largely within a person’s control. In contrast, success is perishable and is often outside our control... If you strive for excellence, you will probably be successful eventually... people who put excellence in first place have the patience to end up with success... An additional burden for the victim of the success mentality is that he is threatened by the success of others and resents real excellence. In contrast, the person fascinated by quality is excited when he sees it in others.”

Joe Paterno, Penn State football coach – 1990

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

my message from the universe

Above: Left Bank Books, Pike Place Market, end of day.

My take-away message from this day, thrice reinforced: let people surprise you. Don't worry so much about that looming, likely-to-be negative interaction -- it might be fine. Or about your kids' ability to handle something on their own. They are up for the challenge. And definitely say no when it's the thing to do -- you might not get the reaction you think you will.

Another good message: your time is limited... made my heart ache.

Take care. xo

Monday, October 17, 2011


We own shelves full of board games, yet they gravitate toward electronic checkers and chess. I like the sound a checker makes when it slides, the feel of the board. I hope they'll always have that sound, that feel filed away in their memory somewhere. There are losses and gains with every new technology, I suppose. Probably every generation of parents has had similar thoughts.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Pictures from this evening at Seattle's downtown waterfront. We're beginning to feel a chill in the air, but not enough of one that we need a coat in the sun. I have an aunt and uncle here visiting. It's truly wonderful, spending time with people who have loved me my whole life.

I hope your weekend was a good one.

Friday, October 14, 2011

never a dull moment

Yesterday morning, as we were getting out of our car preparing to walk in to school, a grandmother and her two grandchildren passed us. ‘What are you good at, grandma?’ I made eye contact with her, and we both smiled. ‘I am good at all sorts of things – science, gardening, singing,…’ I strained to hear more of the conversation as they continued on out of earshot.

I’m finding myself thinking back to that encounter this morning. The boys and I will be spending the whole day together; it’s a conference preparation day for teachers at school. I love the way kids think, the questions they ask and the things they discuss. They never cease to surprise me.

I hear them starting to stir one floor below. ‘Cal, I can multiply millions.’ ‘How about billions?’ ‘I haven’t gotten to that yet.’ And my cue, 'mom's going to make pancakes.'

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

the Rain Drum Court

I spent the whole of the school day with Abbott's fourth grade class at the Cedar River Watershed. This is a great educational experience, connecting the dots about how water ends up in our faucets.

Here is a short video I made of the drums in action:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

alternatives to saying no

We receive a weekly email with parenting tips from Love and Logic. Often they are so good, I keep them in our inbox for days, to re-read a few times. One from a couple of weeks ago was particularly helpful to me. I couldn't find a link to it on their website, so I've copied and pasted it here. To subscribe to these emails, look for a box at the upper right hand corner of their home page.

Alternatives to Saying No.
Weekly Tip, Love and Logic, September 28, 2011

Give a choice and imply consequences: "Gee, I don't think that is a very good decision and I'm pretty sure it might work out poorly for you."

Suggest an alternative behavior without ordering it: "I think that if I were in your shoes, I would probably change my tone of voice rather than being asked to leave."

Ask for illumination (without using a witness stand tone of voice): "I've always wondered about what leads kids to be obnoxious. Can you help me understand that?"

Give a direct question: "How do you think this is going to work out for you?"

- Dr. Foster Cline

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


We fell asleep last night in the middle of a conversation about middle school, which was more or less about looking to the future. I slept well for the first time in a while.

The wind is blowing this morning, but not ferociously, like it does around here sometimes, right off the water. Alexi and I had a few quiet minutes together. Now, the coffee is brewed, Alexi is showering, boys are still sleeping.

I feel calm and steady; ready for whatever the day holds.