Category: Family

Walk the Walk

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Ugh.

5:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. Today. I dragged myself out of bed and took the girls for a long overdue early morning walk.

Yes, getting up at the crack of dawn is one of my favorite things. But today was hard. After weeks of Christmas, flu, New Years, sinusitis, and the boys’ birthdays, it was time.

And, it was all for naught. After five days on Pacific Standard Time (another favorite thing, by the way) and one red eye flight, I will face this hurdle all too soon again.

Ugh.

He can bring home the bacon

Christian really wanted a dock for Christmas. For his kayak. On the retention pond in our backyard.

Ken decided it was to be. So on Christmas Eve, off to Lowe’s he went to purchase a pickup load of treated lumber. Said lumber then was hauled up the front steps into our living room and was carefully placed under the tree. I was concerned. Concerned that there it would sit for more than just a week. For months. But, out it went on New Year’s Day, onto the back porch then down the steps to the prep area.

This past Sunday, my two men worked in unison, father teaching son new skills. Patience, measure twice, cut once. All day long.

Then, in they came at dark. Instead of retreating to the comfort of his recliner, Ken proceeded to cook a gourmet dinner. Did I feel inadequate? A bit. But, I was sick. Really.

On the menu: Green salad with a mustard vinaigrette, creamy cauliflower soup (see recipe below), and broiled cod. Simple, right? Maybe, but I was impressed.

By the way, it’s Ken’s birthday today.

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Creamy Cauliflower Soup (courtesy of Sunset)

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced (we recommend using only one)
  • About 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 large head cauliflower (2 lbs.), chopped
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • Freshly ground white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced chives
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  1. Heat vegetable oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and salt, cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are very soft, 5 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and wine. Cook, stirring, until liquid is almost completely evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in cauliflower and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until cauliflower is very soft, 20 to 25 minutes.
  3. In 3 batches, whirl soup in a blender until very smooth, at least 3 minutes per batch (or, if you’d like a few florets in your soup, blend 2 batches and leave the last chunky). Stir together and season to taste with white pepper and salt.
  4. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, chives, and parsley. Ladle soup into bowls and decoratively drizzle herb oil on top.

Counting Contrails

Do I like to travel? I LOVE to travel.

Why? I spent my first Christmas flying to Australia. And so it begun, a childhood chock full of exotic layovers (Ever been to Tashkent? In the 1970’s?). I was hooked.

One of my habits? Constantly perusing the Web for our next goto destination. Thank you, Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

Those who have no desire to discover new places, learn new cultures, eat different food? I DON’T GET YOU.

Invest in house improvements or travel? That’s easy.

My Christmas wish? To remove from our lives those things which sit in boxes or hang in closets and never see the light of day. We keep them as reminders. But why? The best mementos are those that creep into our head as we are doing the most mundane of things…they are the best at making us smile, cringe, and even tear up. No storage required.

My if-I-could-have-anything dream? To one day literally claim where my suitcase is open, that’s home. To live as this couple does. Ken is slowly coming around. I think.

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Tree Huntin’

Today we venture down to Toogoodoo, to procure the perfect tree. This has become our Christmas tradition.

I like a native tree. Leyland Cypress or Cedar?

The men want a tall one, to show off in the two-story foyer, a space often ignored. We’ll see…better not be any squirrels in it.

Walk, Julia, Walk!

My parents are serial walkers. They don’t just take simple strolls around the block. They take WALKS. LONG WALKS. I appreciate that they do this and that they made me take LONG WALKS with them.

Yesterday morning, I received the following in an email from my dad. It made me smile. I hope it makes you smile, too.

Julia and I attempt to take a fairly long walk almost everyday. Most of the time we just walk around the neighborhood. Sometimes, we drive to O’Hara and walk around the beautiful little park and sometimes we go to North Park and sometimes go to Hartwood Acres. We often go the Highland Park water reservoir and do the one mile walk around the lake. We use to walk the two miles from the apartment there and back which makes the total walk 5 miles long. Now, we don’t do that since we are older. We drive and park on the hill behind the lake. This day we had our walk around the lake and were walking up the lane to the car. We approached a new black Chevy and a beautiful young smiling girl, maybe 25 years old, was sitting in the driver’s seat. As we got closer she said, “When I grow up I want to be exactly like you two!” I said, “My goodness, you want to be old and ugly?” She said, “No, I want to be old and beautiful!” So, what could I say? I said, “Thank you. You are already half way there. You are very beautiful and, I think, being old is a long way in the future for you.” Julia and I got into our car and drove away feeling much better about ourselves and a lot better about all people in general.

I can not forget that encounter at the lake and it confirms what Tom Hanks said in the movie, Forrest Gump: “My momma always said, Life was like a box of chocolates. You, never know what your gonna get.”  I say most of the time the candy is good and sometimes, judging from some of the great people Julia and I have met just by chance, the candy is delicious.

A word from Dog

(a post from Jasmine)

Hi. Jasmine here.

I thought I’d pick up where Carol left off since she’s been quite the slacker the past few days…well, really, the past week or so. You humans and your habits. Hard to break bad ones, hard to keep good ones. Us dogs? Not an issue. For us, there’s no right or wrong. Instead, its a cinch. You guys tell us what’s right and what’s wrong. And, we get treats when we get it right! We understand you. Well, we understand what we want to hear. It’s not all this, like you think.

Now, about Kona…that little b—-h and her fancy bowl. Enough already. She gets her own special dining room, too. And then she has the gall to growl at me from within her abode when she’s done eating. B—-h. And a whole post about it? Really?

She’d better be glad she’s here because it was gonna be just me. I picked out the boy first. And then Ken picked out Kona. And then Carol decided she would come home with us.

That’s okay. Because I’m the top dog, the Getter of All Things. Need a dish towel? Got it. Looking for a shoe? No problem. A sock? Absolutely. I even clean up after Kona when she’s decided to bring dinner back up for a second round (I’ll keep it at that since you humans don’t appreciate canine gourmet).

Anyway, just wanted to chime in about me. What you see is what you get. No shame. Now, if I could just get my humans to let me sleep in the bed with them. And, I don’t understand this waiting-until-it’s-light-to-get-up-and-eat-breakfast thing.

Slipping through my fingers

Christian began middle school yesterday. It was different from any other “first day” we’ve experienced. For all of the others, he was a little boy. The changes from year-to-year were not so extreme.

He began this summer as a fifth grader, still in elementary school, shorter, with curly, blond hair. He had never been to a sleepover camp. He had never once discussed girls in that way

When I started middle school, I felt awkward in a foreign land, having spent my first five years of school in not quite the Outback. But, Christian was enthusiastically autonomous as he prepped Tuesday night, as he strode off to the bus stop alone Wednesday morning. It means a lot to his parents that Christian had such a great day–we had a great day. Middle school seems to suit him: It’s a bit rough around the edges, there’s more diversity, less rules, old friends, new friends. That’s all I may share. I’ve been sworn to secrecy.

(queue sentimental moment)

As I think of Christian growing up, I often recall this song by my favorite band EVER. Though it is intended for a daughter, it pretty much sums up for me the experience of seeing my son grow up before my eyes, how fleeting time is even though I am right by his side, almost every single day.

(queue needle scratching-across-a-record sound, interrupting said sentimental moment)

Christian would rather I consider a tune on today’s Top 40 list.

(queue blank thought)

Off he goes!

A simple soup for two

My master chef came up with a simple soup today for lunch, to accompany chicken salad with homemade mayonnaise (more about that later). Simple because he used what he could find in the fridge. Simple because it took no time to make. No name, just simple.

2 cups of chicken broth, homemade is best but this brand will also do

1/2 cup of cooked jasmine rice

1/2 cucumber, sliced 1/8″ thick

3 baby bok choy, chopped

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon five spice powder

white pepper to taste

Ladle the boiling chicken broth into two bowls, then evenly disperse the other ingredients. Serve immediately.