“Claire hold um-bella! Which you! Gether!” = As we walked out into rain to get into the car this morning, Claire wanted to help me hold the umbrella (with me, together).

“Mommy take-ah school me!” = Mommy taking me to school today.

“Morning time! No take-ah nap. Not….yet!” = Her many protestations to my trying to get her to lay back down yesterday after an ill-timed poop resulted in her waking up and only sleeping a little over an hour.

“Claire ca-cake. Happy to youuuuu.” = Girlfriend loves her some cupcakes and associates them with birthdays. I gave in and made her a stellar chocolate orange cake – more on that later.


I skipped Wardrobe Wednesday yesterday since I didn’t have any new requests and didn’t find the time to make a virtual wardrobe for myself. Work has been nuts. Instead, here’s a random post of things that have caught my eye recently.

I love Tyler candles – they are soy-based and smell amazing. Only a little votive will make your entire house fragrant.

I’m trying to find a new facial product, one that is mostly natural, and that will nourish my sensitive, rosacea skin (I have always flushed easily and now that I’m all old and almost 34 it’s getting worse). Any suggestions would be most welcome!

I’ve wanted this pine cone wind chime for ages. Eventually I’ll buy it and hang it up outside. It’s peaceful and reminds me of home.

The apron is adorable and would be a nice addition to my fledgling collection (only 2, but still). And I think this shirt would be really cute with jeans.

That is all.

What’s on your wish list?

Ohmygawdyouguys. Huz made the best freaking dinner last night which was perfect, perfect I say!, for an icy wintery night. I neglected to take any pictures, as I was too busy slurping down the hot, slightly sweet, oniony, porky goodness of the stew, so here’s the stock photo from epicurious for you to drool over.

As I ate this I pinned for a bacon old-fashioned, but we don’t have any bacon-infused bourbon. Just my luck, when I arrived at some friend’s for gamenight I was offered a bacon old-fashioned when I walked in their door! Talk about a perfect piggy-infused evening. Anthony Bourdain would have been proud (and jealous).

Speaking of piggy, I’m reading Julie Powell’s (of “Julie and Julia” book and movie fame) new book “Cleaving” and it has to be one of the most difficult, yet can’t-stop-reading books I’ve met. She’s an apprentice butcher and talks at length about the not-so-niceties of animal guts, bones, fat, sinew, etc. as well as the not-so-niceties of a failing marriage and extramarital affairs (including anonymous sex – what happened to the girl I identified with so well with* in the last book?!).

*Not that I loved the last book, because I didn’t, but I identified with Julie’s love of food, disdain for her 9-5, and her marriage because, like Huz and I, she got married young and survived it – or at least I thought she did.

Anyway, back to the goodness of my pork dinner. Note to Tennesseans: apparently there are more perverse liquor laws here than I knew. Not only can you not buy wine in the grocery store (and then you have to buy wine and beer at separate liquor stores due to alcohol content), but you also can’t buy beer (or hard cider, as the recipe calls for) before noon on a Sunday. Because God wouldn’t have that. Oh, no. So, Huz subbed beer we had at home for the cider and some bourbon for the brandy.

Go forth and enjoy you some piggy!

Pork Stew with Hard Cider, Pearl Onions, and Potatoes

(From Bon Appetit, February 2010)

  • 30 1-inch-diameter pearl onions (from two 10-ounce bags)
  • 5 slices thick-cut bacon (preferably applewood-smoked), cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick strips
  • 3 1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt) or boneless country ribs, external fat trimmed, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • 1 cup chopped shallots (about 4 large)
  • 1 cup finely chopped parsnips
  • 6 teaspoons chopped fresh sage, divided
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon Calvados (apple brandy; optional)
  • 2 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 12-ounce bottle hard apple cider*
  • 1 1/2 pounds unpeeled baby red potatoes (about 2 inches in diameter), scrubbed, halved
  • 2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard

Cook onions in large saucepan of boiling salted water 2 minutes; transfer to bowl of ice water to cool. Peel onions; set aside.

Cook bacon in heavy large pot over medium heat until lightly browned. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Sprinkle pork shoulder with coarse salt and pepper. Increase heat to medium-high. Working in 2 batches, add pork to same pot and cook until browned, about 7 minutes per batch. Using slotted spoon, transfer pork to large bowl. Reduce heat to medium; add shallots and parsnips. Cover pot and cook until beginning to soften, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Stir in 3 teaspoons sage; stir 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup Calvados, if using; cook until almost evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add broth, cider, reserved bacon, and pork with any accumulated juices. Bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits with wooden spoon. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until pork is tender, about 1 hour 15 minutes.

Add potatoes and pearl onions to stew; cover and cook until vegetables are almost tender, about 30 minutes. Add apples; cover and cook until potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Spoon fat from surface of juices, if necessary. Stir butter and flour in small bowl to form paste; add to pot and whisk to blend. Stir in mustard, 2 teaspoons sage, and 1 tablespoon Calvados, if using. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium and simmer until thickened, stirring often, 2 to 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Stew can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Simmer stew over medium heat to rewarm before serving.

Divide stew among bowls, sprinkle with remaining 1 teaspoon sage, and serve.

* Alcoholic apple cider; available in the liquor department of most supermarkets and at liquor stores.

Apparently the Nashville news made such a raucous about the last snow “storm” that hit our fair city (which resulted in, like, a half inch of snow at best) that they are now referring to any winter forecasts as “situations” instead of catastrophes. We had orange alerts at work on Friday (no, really, we actually had the alarm system go off and announce “orange alert: inclement weather”) and got to go home at noon due to Situation 2010 which, as you read below, caused a lack of nappage in my house. Well, I was actually impressed. We got a few inches of snow. It snowed all day Friday and all night too.

Claire and I went over to play with some friends in the lovely white snow. Needless to say, it was quite the fun time.

Last night I ended up stayed the night with a friend because we did yoga and then stayed up til midnight watching Dexter and I didn’t want to drive home on icy, un-plowed, un-salted roads (and that’s why they freak out down here: they are woefully unprepared for snow and ice. I read in the news today that the city of Nashville has 30 pieces of equipment to handle 5,600 miles of roads.).  So this morning, when I was trying to leave without waking her (I have a toddler alarm clock that results in my waking up at 7a.m. no matter where I am) I got stuck in her driveway that was literally a sheet of ice. After much trial and error between her and I using shovels and (don’t laugh, it’s all she had) Epsom salt, a family walked by and helped push me out.

Safe back home, Claire and I enjoyed a snowed-in day together while Huz worked on his dissertation in the study. We made playdough and she had a blast making impressions in it with my large collection of rubber stamps.

After nap (alas, only an hour-long today), I decided to get even more crafty with her and we made some cute, hand-painted elephants on a string that I saw a few months ago over here.

The result was a fun new piece of artwork to add to her room.

It was a fun day and I have to say that I’m glad it finally snowed around here.

My two year old is so utterly dependent on routine that I am currently writing you pent up in her room waiting for her to fall asleep. No, this isn’t the norm around here and, no, I’m not happy about it. What happened is this. She should be in daycare right now, but because I live in the South and because the South freaks out at the mere thought of snow, we got let out of the office at noon today. That part makes me happy, but because I had to pick Claire up 4 hours early from daycare, her nap schedule is screwed up. Majortime. She’s been in her crib for an hour now and she won’t stop singing and jumping up and down. So I finally decided to come in here with my laptop and just sit here ignoring her until she falls asleep. So far, it’s succeeded in calming her down: she’s no longer standing and jumping; she’s lying on her back taking her socks on and off, turning to make sure I’m still here every now and then, and softly whispering to herself.

Oh, the things we parents do!

What things have you done that you said you’d never do just for some peace and quiet?

This week is all messed up, as far as cooking at home goes. Tuesday night (Huz’s night to cook) we went out to the Family Wash bar for pie and pint night ($10 for a big shepherd’s pie and a pint of beer) with 4 friends and 1 toddler. Wednesday night I had worked late and so we were all tired and scrounged for food (I had nachos – a very un-fancy food indeed). Last night I thought I had a hoop presentation ceremony (where we are presented with the hot pink hula hoops that we’ll be hooping the half marathon with), but found out at the end of the day that it isn’t until next month. So I went to the grocery store after work and grabbed some things to actually cook dinner, for the first time this week. I wanted something easy, so I tried this quick Cashew Curry from 101 Cookbooks. I modified the recipe by omitting the tofu and adding chopped chicken breast, and I served it over rice. It was good, fast, and easy (that’s what she said).

My latest request for a wardrobe idea comes from an old high school buddy of mine who wanted something for work. That may sound easy, but she works with children yet wants to look professional for the parents. She says:

Ok..how about a work outfit for a pediatric speech therapist…keeping in mind I want to portray warmth, professionalism, a bit of whimsy and..oh yeah, I get bubbles dumped in my lap almost daily…the challenge is on!

I cheated and put together two options just in case I’m totally off the mark with this challenge. The first one is purple, pretty, professional, yet comes with dark pants to hide the spilled bubbles, and flats for lots of running around with kids.

Purple Professional

This one is a bit casual, but the denim will hide those spilled bubbles too, and you get your whimsical on with the bubble scarf and bright orange accessories.

Fall Tones

That one was hard. How did I do?



I took a sick day today, not because I’m sick, but because I was traumatized by an accident this morning. It involved my beautiful child’s face and the tile floor. Yes, it’s as painful as it sounds. I sat her on the kitchen counter, as I do a lot since she still demands to be picked “up, up!” while I’m making breakfast. She’s too heavy to carry around on my hip like the old days, so I sat her down while I went a few feet away to get ice from the freezer door. You can guess what happened. Her fleece pajamas were slick and she fell off the counter in an instant, face-planting onto the tile floor. I threw my water bottle and was there in a nano second, but it was too late. I scooped her up in my arms and was crying and wailing before she was. She instantly had a bloody nose, bloody teeth, and a bloody lip that puffed up making her mouth look crooked. We iced, hugged, wiped, and paged the pediatrician to see if a trip to the ER was needed. Thankfully, it was a doctor I know and she also is a mom. She said something similar recently happened with her 2 1/2 year old and it sounded like Claire would be okay and that she did not injure her head. We need to watch her for any loose teeth (the risk is choking on them, not losing them since they are baby teeth). She seems fine, is eating normally (even a bit of apple this afternoon), but she looks a mess with a fat lip.

It was quite scary for us all. I don’t do well with my child getting hurt – I feel too much emotion, I shake and cry.

Huz and I just watched a powerful episode of Friday Night Lights last night – one that dealt with parenting: it showed both really good ways to do it (the Taylor’s having the sex talk with Julie which was full of love, not anger) and bad ways to do it (the McCoy father pushing too hard and then getting violent with J.D. in the parking lot). I just hope I can parent the good way – the way that is loving, supportive, and accepting – and that all of these powerful emotions that caused me to take a sick day because my kid got a fat lip lead up to that kind of parenting. I think Claire is in good hands, so long as we never let her sit on the kitchen counter again!

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to start helping Huz cook more. Since he’s a student, his time is more flexible than mine, but I need to start contributing more to this area of domesticity. So, I got all organized and put a magnetic calendar/white board on our fridge where we write down our weekly menus (pictured is the little one I replaced). I cook twice a week and he cooks three times a week.


Last week’s menu looks something like this.

Huz made:

Lentil Soup with Spicy Italian Sausage which was really flavorful and comforting on a winter’s night.

Poblano Albondigas with Ancho Chile Soup which, besides being super fun to say (albondigas! albondigas!) was a tad disappointing. We’ll blame the crappy Kroger poblano peppers for the lack of depth in the soup. Worth trying again, but needs some hotter peppers and something to provide depth.

I made:

Tangerine-Salted Turkey with Redeye Gravy. You read that right. I all up and roasted a turkey, y’all. And it’s not even Thanksgiving. There are few times when I take a bite of something I made and think – damn girl, you can cook! – but this was one of those times. The redeye gravy was amazing – full of rich flavor – and the turkey meat was super moist.



We shared the meal with friends of ours who just had a baby and then made turkey BBQ sandwiches with the leftovers.

Butternut Squash and Cheddar Bread Pudding was a good, cheesy vegetarian meal that we enjoyed with some tomato soup.

Tonight I’m making Tilapia and yams with crispy skins and brown-butter vinaigrette and on Tuesday Huz is making Lamb Kofte with Yogurt and Muhammara.

I was recently told by a co-worker, when sharing our weekly menus with each other, that Huz and I eat “fancy” food. Do you think that’s true? Our food has fancy words (albondigas and kofte = meatballs), but we’re not making foie gras or anything. Her menu consisted of tuna casserole, ravioli, and hot dogs so we obviously eat in different culinary universes, but I don’t consider our diet “fancy.” Where are you on the fancy food scale?