Sunday, March 27, 2011

Cora quote of the day

"I am curious and mysterious."

And she loves turnips.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Beignets: a (belated) photo essay

New Orleans has taken hold of Cora's imagination in a way that has little to do with the actual city, or even Mardi Gras, and a lot to do with brass music and Disney's The Princess and the Frog. This morning she told me that she thinks we need to make gumbo, and that I have a "Tiana spirit" because I like to make things and cook. And, I was sent to the CD shelves on a mission for New Orleans music (thank you Dirty Dozen Brass Band). 

I think it has been almost two months since the last time she watched the movie, but it has been only two weeks since I made beignets for the first time and we talked about mardi gras in New Orleans and Cafe du Monde, where Chris has been. The only time Cora and I have had beignets before was last January, when we went to California and my parents took us to Crystal Cove and the little restaurant on the beach, where we has what could well have been one of the best breakfasts of my life, thanks to the location, meal, and company. Except that Cora was too anxious to get to playing in the sand to eat anything and refused to even try the beignets!

Well, this time was different. Especially when I told her that, yes, she could eat as many as she wanted, even though they were covered in sugar, because they would be no good the next day. (Note to self: half recipe next time!) I think she ate at least eight of these that morning, and a couple more in the afternoon, when they were starting to fade. I used a recipe I found on for buttermilk beignets - it was incredibly easy, and fun, and delicious!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Looking for strength

Thursday, as Cora and I walked from the garage to the house, she said to me, "You know, Mommy, just because a person doesn't do karate doesn't mean that person isn't strong."

Inside the house she showed me the karate moves she learned at school. Clearly, someone at school is taking karate and there has been much discussion and debate about these lessons. Cora is still more interested in getting into gymnastics lessons and swimming lessons, which also require you to be strong and to practice, but it has been interesting over the last couple days to see this fascination with martial arts.

A few days ago she wore all pink to school - pink leggings, pink socks, pink shoes, pink long-sleeved shirt - and declared herself the Pink Ninja. We talked about her cousins and aunt and uncle who all take tae kwon do. We talked about how her uncle is getting close to being a black belt, and how it takes a lot of work and practice to be really good at something. I suspect there is no pink belt, but don't tell Cora. Last night we all watched Kung Fu Panda for family movie night. She asked me to search for ninja videos on YouTube this morning, and we found some pretty amazing stuff. We emailed her favorite one to her uncle.

And then Cora wanted me to take her picture doing her best ninja move.

The pink ninja strikes with a smile.

We talk about the ways you can be strong - in your muscles, in your heart, in your brain. She consistently blows me away with the strength of her will and her emotions. And with how she already knows that it can be hard to be strong, to have strength, fortitude, endurance, tenacity. It strikes me that those are all words that also take some time to say. Even though "strength" is a single syllable, it moves your mouth around.

Yesterday on the phone a friend mentioned that she has always envied my strength, my ability to deal with the challenges of the past couple years, and that she has found it useful to see how I do that. But she also said that seeing me at times when the challenges nearly overwhelmed me has been useful, too, to see how strength can be overwhelmed and how it can rally.

I found this comforting and surprising. I have not felt particularly strong of late. I have not felt particularly adept at dealing with challenges. I have been slow to rally on many fronts. But, when I think about it, I can see where my strength has gone to, which fronts it has been fighting on, and that it is still there, after all. Just not where I am used to seeing it. And here is something a good friend can do for you: remind you of who you are, even when it might look a little different.

I don't take karate, but I am still strong.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Still winter.

This photo, though taken in January, accurately represents our feelings about dipping back below zero here at the beginning of March. I had the unenviable task of explaining to Cora that here in the upper-upper Midwest, it will probably take us a month longer to get to spring than it took when we lived in Minneapolis. The news was not received well.It is still winter, but all we can think about is spring!

I am keeping my fingers crossed that we will get a community garden plot (currently #5 on the waiting list), and that Chris and I can get our act together enough to find or build a high, narrow table for a windowsill herb garden. I have been having pangs for our old backyard, which was not a perfect backyard and needed so much work every year, but still was our own backyard - the garden, the deck, the patio (o! the patio!), the pots where Cora's beloved chives and parsley grew, my beloved bleeding heart plant and the peonies. The lilac tree and the Baffin roses.

Oh, Spring. You are so far away and have so many ways to break my heart.

Friday, March 4, 2011

FFF: The Letter M

Nora's theme today is the letter "M". My favorite M? My Mom! Here she is, last November, with Cora.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Imagination to Real Object

I find that when I have frustration and turmoil in one part of my life, I most often compensate for that by making things: cooking, baking, sewing, knitting, etc. It is a good time for Cora to decide her dollies need a throne, because I will find a way to make one. It is a good time for Bon Appetit to declare they have the best-ever brownie recipe, because I will try it out. It is a good time for mutter paneer cravings!

Red onion and friends - ready for curry!

I tend not to examine this too closely. I know it has something to do with control and satisfaction and compartmentalization. It works for me. So, I have been in a frenzy of making for about a month now, you may have noticed.

Another dog.

Last weekend, I made progress on a couple sewing projects, and some knitting ones, and even some writing ones. But one in particular was special. I have a little muslin, drawstring project bag for knitting that I really like. But I tend to work on more than one project at a time, and I kept thinking maybe I should buy another one. Then I decided that was ridiculous, because I have muslin. Surely I could make something myself?

Hat from Noro Silk Garden yarn - love it!

And then I started thinking about how plain muslin is, and what could I do to enliven it? I remembered this beautiful poppy ribbon I bought, oh, maybe eight years ago, and never could bear to use. So I went upstairs and found the ribbon and the muslin and sketched out a pattern. Then I thought it could use a lining. I looked over at the bins of fabric, and there was a fabric, pressed up against the side of the bin, just the perfect fabric!

Once again neglected to take process photos -
having too much fun to go downstairs for the camera.
So, then I thought about how it would look if the lining were rolled down over the outside muslin, for extra color and to set off the ribbon. And what if the bottom of the bag was the lining fabric?

The colors are not a perfect match, but I like that.
And then I made the bag. The process wasn't perfect and one corner is a little goofy, but I love my project bag. I love that I figured out how to make it. I love the way it came together, from thinking about buying something, to making my own, better version. I love that I had the time available and that most of the materials were ones I've had for years, just waiting for the right project. Very satisfying!

Noro sock yarn in the bag - but I've ended up using size 0 dpns
instead of the single circular. Socks take me a long time.
More on that later.