finger knitting


Last weekend was the Winter Carnival fundraiser at our school...the kids love to go and play games, maybe do some craft projects, and bump into friends. More than anything I notice how much they love being in the school during off hours. 


One of the craft projects at the event was finger knitting. I personally had never learned finger knitting but much to my surprise Bea was instantly hooked, and quite a natural at it too. She spent about 15 minutes at the table and left with a little necklace she had made. For those of you who are knitters, it is basically a way to make a giant I-cord without needles.


On Sunday morning she hounded me for more yarn because she wanted to make another chain. I found some and she set to work (without any reminders from me), whipping up a three foot long chain in no time at all. Then she asked who she could teach her new found skill...we will have to ask her teacher if she can have a table at choice time!


If her interest in this keeps up I will have to think of some nice way to use her work...weave it into something bigger perhaps? With all the yarn I have collected over the years it would be great to have a partner to help me put it to good use!




I just discovered a new thing to love about smoothies...the boys can make them by themselves! I have always appreciated smoothies as a healthy snack or dessert and the kids all really love them. The fact that the proportions really don't matter and that the smoothie-maker gets to make a few decisions makes it all the more fun for the kids to make on their own. I get a kick out of hearing them negotiate the  how much of each ingredient they should add.


I keep bags of frozen fruit (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, mango and peaches are all good) well stocked, as well as a large tub of plain yogurt. Either milk, orange juice, or a combination can be used to help blend it all together. The fact that the kids think smoothies are a "treat" is a big bonus is a great way to add some healthy foods to their diet. And, more independence is good for all of us.



bleach drawings 


While perusing Pinterest one day some t-shirts caught my eye...someone had made pretty drawings with bleach pens on solid colored tees. Although bleach is not usually a substance for kids (in fact, I don't like it for adults either, after a few too many bleach accidents in the laundry room) I thought the pens seemed pretty safe. All the kids love to draw so this seemed like a really cool way to make their own tees.



The first time we attempted the project was a total failure. My kids don't have a lot of plain solid colored tee shirts so I bought some really bright day glo ones as American Apparel. That was a mistake...the shirts are so colorfast that the drawings did not appear. I thought maybe I just washed it out too quickly but when we tried it again with the same tees we left the bleach on for hours, and eventually overnight, and still no drawings!! The irony is that although the drawings did not appear, spots on the tee shirt Bea was wearing while doing the project did...even though I washed it the second I noticed her dragging her arm across the bleach!



I almost gave up on the idea but we decided to try one more time...this time using some old tee shrits we found in our drawers. I am so glad we did. Finally, our efforts paid off and the kids love the way their tee shirts came out. I am just sorry that the beautiful bird drawing Bea did the first time around did not was awfully cute.




matzoh balls vs. meatballs

Last week when we were in Montana on vacation with friends I was incredibly spoiled...everyone was taking turns cooking dinner and somehow I never really had a turn! One day Page spent the day making two soups for our dinner. Ina Garten's Italian Wedding Soup has become one of her daughter Coco's favorites, and a staple in their house. At the little country store where we shopped in Montana she could not find ground chicken or chicken sausage so she substituted ground turkey and sweat italian sausage. The soup was delicious! Although you cannot see it in my photo you put some maccaroni into the bowls before ladling in the soup, making it a hearty meal. 



Matzoh Ball Soup (one of my personal favorites) was the second option. She found a recipe in the Gourmet Comfort Winter/Spring 2012 Special Edition that is on news stands right now. If you like ginger (I love it) this is the recipe for you...fresh ginger adds amazing flavor to the broth. 


vacation reading: perfect madness

A couple weeks ago I was talking with my friend Abby in the playground after school and she made a reference to a photography project she had done in college during her "feminist days". As we chatted I asked her if she ever struggled with being a feminist and a stay at home mom. She nodded yes and told me about Judith Warner's book, Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety. I went home and immediately ordered a copy of the book to take with me on our trip to Montana. 


I started reading on the plane and was instantly engrossed. Every mother I know has struggled with finding balance between their career and family, whether they have a full time job, a part time job, or have stayed at home with their kids. I found the book to be a great read. It certainly does not solve the problems women with children face, but it does give a very interesting look into a very complicated issue.




greetings from montana!


Every year we plan a ski/snowboarding trip over the kids winter break with a few of our best friends. This year we are in Montana, and despite a few sick children (which seems to be unavoidable at this time of year) we are having a great time. It is a real pleasure to spend a week with friends, and the kids think it is heaven to all be sharing this big house and spending the week in ski school together. The older boys are becoming excellent snowboarders, and the younger kids are loving skiing. Even I am finally getting a bit better at snowboarding!



egg sandwich


Eggy breakfasts have never been my favorite but I do love a good egg sandwich. Adam is often the breakfast maker in our house. His version of the egg sandwich is really delicious...sauteed onions and grated parmesan cheese are mixed into the scrambled egg. He likes to use a little of the bacon fat mixed with butter to cook the onions and the eggs. Adam insists on making these to order and gets quite perturbed if you are not waiting eagerly to eat the sandwich immediately!



Adam's Egg Sandwich

Cook bacon until crisp. Set aside on a paper towel lined plate. (Adam uses 1-1 1/2 slices of bacon per sandwich.) Dice a small onion and saute until nicely browned in butter. Grate parmesan cheese. Whisk an egg in a bowl until scrambled and cook in a cast iron skillet with a little of the bacon fat +/or a little butter. Top with about a spoonful of carmelized onion and parmesan cheese after a minute or so. Cook another minute or two and flip. In the meantime, toast an english muffin and butter. Fold scrambled egg to fit onto the muffin and top with bacon. Eat immediately.



sharpie tie dye


I've become a bit obsessed with pinterest is so fun to have a visual way to store all the wonderful things you come across online. One of the pins that caught my eye was this one that shows a tee shirt that has been dyed with sharpies and rubbing alcohol. I was curious so the kids and I gave it a try. I can't say our tees were quite as lovely as the inspiration, but we did have fun trying. With a little practice you can start to figure out different methods for getting the results you want. One thing I learned was that if you drip the alcohol in the center of the drawing repeatedly (rather than dripping it all over it) that the wet spot spreads and runs the color in nice concentric circles. I would definitely recommend trying this out on an old tee shirt or scrap of fabric first, rather than buying a nice new white one just for the project. You can find a more detailed tutorial here.



happy valentine's day!


Every year I am touched at the incredibly sweet box of valentine's day cookies that my parents send over. This year my dad baked heart shaped sugar cookies and he and my mom decorated them with all of our names. Needless to say the kids were delighted! When we called to say thank you my mom answered the phone and responded "well, that was your father's idea". Adam and Lauren's husband, Ben, share the sentiment, "I'll never live up to that!" 


chocolate caramel tart with sea salt


I developed a recipe for a tart very similar to this one when I was a food editor at Martha Stewart Living. It appeared in the February 2002 issue as part of a story on chocolate desserts. I remembered it one day when my friend Jodi admitted what a chocolate lover she is...I wanted to make if for her for her birthday but we ended up going out to a restaurant to celebrate so I made it for our New Year's Eve party instead. It would be a fantatic Valentine's Day dessert too. I could not find the recipe online so I made it up as I went along...this new version is a little different than the original but it was a huge hit. 


I used hazelnuts in the tart because I love their flavor. That said, removing the papery skins adds a step that can be a little tedious. You can sometimes find them with the papery part mostly removed so that is what I try to buy. You can also just replace the hazelnuts with whatever your personal favorite nut is...I have made it with pecans and I think peanuts would also be delicious.




8 ounces hazelnuts (about 2 cups)

1 1/4 boxes famous chocolate wafers

12 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon fine salt, plus additional 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt

1/4 cup water

2 cups heavy cream

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

12 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped


Spread hazelnuts on a cutting board and press with the side of a chef's knife to break into pieces. Transfer to a baking sheet and toast in a 350° oven until fragrant, 8-10 minutes. Set aside.


Place chocolate wafers in the bowl of a food processor and grind into a coarse powder. Melt 10 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Combine cookie crumbs and melted butter in a bowl and use a fork to combine until the mixture is moist and crumbly. Pour half of the crumb mixture into into an 8 1/2 inch springform pan and press into an even layer on the bottom of the pan. Add remaining crumb mixture and press into the corners and up sides of the pan. Place crust in refrigerator while preparing the caramel.


Place sugar, fine salt, and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, brushing sides of pan with a pastry brush dipped in water, without stirring. Once the sugar has dissolved and begins to brown swirl pan gently until caramel is a deep amber color. Add 1/2 cup cream, remaining 2 tablespoons butter, and vanilla and stir to combine. Pour caramel into prepared crust and top with 1 1/2 cups toasted hazelnuts. Sprinkle with sea salt and return to refrigerator while preparing the ganache.


Place dark chocolate in a metal bowl. Bring remaining 1 1/2 cups of cream to a boil and pour over chocolate. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, until chocolate is melted. Whisk mixture together and pour over caramel and hazelnuts in the tart shell. Return to refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours or overnight. Before serving unmold the tart and sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup hazelnuts around the perimeter. Running a sharp knife under hot water for a few minutes to warm it up will make slicing easier (dry it off before using it).