Friday, May 30, 2008

a feeling of deep well-being

Because it is sunny and warm and I think spring may finally be here to stay.

Because we brought up the porch furniture from the basement and made our favorite room in the house ready for summer. Let the outdoor living begin!

Because good friends are coming over for diner.

Because a vacant lot in our neighborhood is becoming a community garden this summer. Thank you Whole Foods! Say what you will about "Whole Paycheck" and all that... Whole Foods is a good neighbor.

Because be that as it may, greens and broccoli are growing like gangbusters in our backyard garden. We had our first home-grown salad the other night and it was good.

Because Mr. Breech Boy got himself straightened out and is now head-down in the blast-off position. 35 weeks down, five (or so) to go.

Because this weekend, our kitchen will finally be 100% really, truly done.

Because I am sitting on the porch swing with my (only somewhat swollen at the moment) feet up.


Monday, May 26, 2008

little miss malaprop

One of my favorite things about Iris' little-kid speech is her malapropisms. Here are a few I want to remember:

"Mama, could I have some of your tarogomi paper?" (Taro Gomi is a Japanese author of some children's books we own.)

"The pennies are the opera-colored ones." (Sorting coins.)

"When you're done petticoating, could you read me a story?" (Spoken during my neti pot ritual.)

"Cantalope." (A horned, hoofed animal that lives on the African plains.)

Any good ones at your house? C'mon, share!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

bea's ensalada

Even though it's more brisk than balmy today, I'm in the mood to share one of my favorite summer recipes.

Several years ago, my dear friend Gretchen went away to live in Spain. When she came back, she had me over to lunch and served me this salad, which she'd learned from her Spanish friend Bea. It's since become a staple of my own warm-weather repertoire.

1 15 oz. can garbanzos
1 tomato (in season only)
1 medium cucumber
1/2-1 red onion
1/2-1 red pepper
1-2 avocadoes
4 or so radishes
1 can tuna (splurge on the good stuff – dark meat packed in olive oil)

Dressing (not an exact science):

2 parts olive oil + 1 part red wine vinegar + a dollop of good spicy mustard + salt and pepper (add how much you think, then a little more)

Drain the garbanzos. Chop up the veggies and toss with garbanzos and tuna. Whip up some dressing and pour over the whole shebang.

This is a great hearty + nutritious lunch, no-cook summer supper, or picnic potluck dish. It's also really flexible – when I don't have radishes, I just throw in something else that's colorful and crunchy, like a carrot. Sometimes I peel the cucumbers and carve out the seeds; sometimes I don't bother. Avocadoes too hard or too expensive? Leave 'em out. The salad will still be good.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


So I missed the mother of all yard sales this weekend, a huge neighborhood-wide one that I try to hit every year. In the neighborhood in question, I don't think they sell you a house unless you are a family with little kids, so the pickings of toys, children's books, clothes, and baby gear tends to be especially rich. I was hoping to score some new reading material for Iris and an exersaucer and/or a swing for Baby Brudder.

Instead of yard sale-ing, I learned the meaning of overdoing it. It began a couple weeks ago with an afternoon of crouching in the garden, planting, which strained some muscles or ligaments or something in the all-important thigh-bone's-connected-to-the-belly-bone region. But did I rest? Oh no, I did not. I walked, here there and everywhere. Then I spent that one afternoon hauling baby stuff up from the basement. I felt that afterward, too. But instead of taking it easy for a few days, I walked some more. Miles more. By the night before the sale, I was in no shape for an hours-long, neighborhood-wide yard sale safari. I could barely make it up the stairs to bed. I don't just mean I was tired. I mean I was hurting.

I don't like to admit it, but I am four years older than the last time I carried twenty-five pounds of baby and all its prenatal baggage on my belly. All this time I have been mocking the fact that I am considered, in the medical parlance, of "advanced maternal age," and yet here I am, hobbling like an old lady. I hate to give up walking - it's not only my pleasure and my exercise, but my lifestyle, one of the reasons I live in a city neighborhood instead of out in the 'burbs somewhere. But I think I better put in some R & R now or pay for it later, quite possibly in damages worse than missed yard sale bargains.

So, since I have no yard sale scores to show off, here is a little something I found elsewhere for Baby Brudder's room:

A little spot-cleaning and it will be good as, well, the 1970s.

And some embellishments I have added to spiff up Iris' former infant wardrobe:

Trees. I just can't stay away from the trees.

A fox related to this one; an apple applique to hide an unsuccessful stamp attempt; and a kangaroo pocket because, ridiculous as it is, the idea just grabbed me one day.

This little elephant is here because I have a pet peeve about baby clothes with cutesy words and phrases on them. This otherwise perfectly presentable secondhand shirt had completely unnecessary ribbons sewn onto it to inform all and sundry that its wearer was "cute as a button" or some such. So, off with the ribbons and on with an elephant applique to cover up the scar. Much better! In my finicky little world at least.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

does a family of three get 45 minutes of fame?

Because we're putting plenty in the bank this week.

First, J and Iris were on TV on Thursday morning. They were talking up Pedal Pittsburgh, the annual city-wide bike ride and fundraiser for one of my favorite organizations, the Community Design Center of Pittsburgh. Wish I could link to the clip but the powers that be at KDKA Today Live apparently have a very different idea of posterity than I do. Booo! I actually have not even seen it myself – even though KDKA is a local broadcast channel, it doesn't come in at our house. A friend taped it though, so I should get to revel in my family's cycling star power soon enough.

Now, class, please turn to page 160 in your latest issue of Craft: magazine:

How about that! An "enchanted dresser"! I guess that makes me the salvage fairy. Hey, maybe that's what I'll put on my business card.

Monday, May 12, 2008

free to a good home

OK, I can have the baby now.

I spent the afternoon in a furious fit of nesting, cleaning the nursery and then re-stocking it with the contents of all the boxes of toys, board books, cloth diapers, diaper covers, bibs, hats, and other infant-related whatnot that I hauled up from the basement. Because the baby will need toys and board books urgently, without delay! Honey, hand me a shape-sorter, stat! I am reminded of when I was pregnant with Iris and I asked a friend, who as the parent of a 15-month-old seemed cloaked in the wisdom of motherhood, what we would really need when we brought our baby home. "Not much," my friend said. "Pretty much just diapers and breasts." What a comfort that was.

Anyway, since Iris moved into her big-girl room and up until today, the nursery has basically served as a clothing-sorting station. I've been sifting through four years of her wardrobe, sorting the girlie from the unisex, that to be donated to Goodwill from that to be taken to the consignment store. (I play a little game where I try to never, or almost never, spend actual money on her clothes, but recycle the old for credit toward the "new." Does anyone else do this?) Of course I've made a little sentimental stack of things to keep – favorite dresses, the baby peasant blouse my friend sent her from Paris and which she wore for her first Christmas photos, the tiny shoes she wore to my sisters-in-laws' wedding.

But there are a couple other things I'm having trouble just boxing up and giving away. Things which Iris never even wore, but which I'd like to pass on to someone who will really appreciate them.

So, do you have or know a kindred spirit who has a small baby girl? If so, I offer the following free to a good home:

If you can resist the toadstools, polka dots, and ruffles of this outfit, then I really think someone should check your pulse. I don't even like mushrooms and I am still getting over the fact that Iris never got to wear this. My mom gave it to her because the toadstools reminded her of Germany, but sadly, so sadly, it was the wrong size/season for her little peanut baby self, and I never got to put it on her even once. It is size 6 months.

I admit I picked up this little vintage (80s?) Hanna Andersson one-piece romper/jumper thingie on a thrift expedition before I found out that Baby Brudder was, in fact, a brudder. Now, I am pretty liberal when it comes to raising a boy in a lavender-painted nursery with flowered curtains, but it turns out I draw the line at dressing him in pale pink stripes. This is a Euro size 60, which is about the equivalent of US 3-6 months.

Interested? Just email me at chartreusebag (at) mac (dot) com. And stay tuned – there may be more as the sorting continues.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

happy mothers' day




Saturday, May 10, 2008

telling it like it is

[Waiting at the pharmacy counter, Iris spies a shelf of children's vitamins and immediately hones in on a box adorned with those accursed Disney princesses]

"Look, mama! Cinderella and Ariel and Belle! Why are they there?"

"Those are children's vitamins, and the people who made them put the princesses on the box to make them attractive."

"I'm attracted!"

* * * * *

[a conversation between Iris and our mailman]

"Do you go to school?"

"Yes, but I'm on a break right now to spend some time with my mama before Baby Brudder turns our lives upside-down."

* * * * *

"I've noticed that as your belly gets plumper with Brudder, your bottom is getting bigger too."

Friday, May 02, 2008

i heart new york

It's a great place to visit and heck yeah, I'd want to live here if it were remotely affordable, which it isn't, especially not with stores like Muji and Pearl River tempting my inner consumer on nearly every corner.

We're away on a week-long trip, visiting family and friends in New Jersey and New York, sort of a last fling as a family of three before Baby Brudder (as Iris calls him) turns our lives upside down in two months (!). And what of the last month or so that has somehow slipped by since I last updated this space? Mostly, it has been full of a lot of busy-ness that doesn't make very good copy. End-of-semester push. Houseguests. Family birthdays (including mine), the quiet kind without a lot of fanfare, but which might include long afternoons whiled away at the cupcake cafe. Finishing up the kitchen, or nearly. I'd say it's about 98% done, but I'm waiting for 100% to give the triumphant full-color lavishly-illustrated before-and-after report. Preparing for the baby, including making some things, but not having very good luck photographing them (still getting to know my new camera).

In other words, daily life.

Also, to tell the truth, I actually enjoy the occasional hiatus from my fearsome internet addiction. It's been a very good month of life lived, if not blogged.