Saturday, August 30, 2008

A beautiful day in the neighborhood

It really is a beautiful day in my neighborhood. We've had this incredible summer (not too hot, not too humid) and this morning as the kids and I drove to Trader Joe's I saw yellow leaves on a few of the trees. Could we really sail into Fall that easily??

We got a new upstairs neighbor yesterday (for those of you who don't know we live in the lower half of a two family house. Two college guys lives upstairs). He seems like a nice enough guy. This afternoon two of his friends came over to see his new place. He was waiting for them on the front stoop, which is just outside my bedroom window. Which is open. So, you know, I kind of overheard their conversation, through no fault of my own ;) Actually, part of me wishes I hadn't.

Friend (climbing out of shiny new car): What is this? You live in the ghetto or something??

New Guy: No man! Are you kidding? Go down to the bottom of this street. Turn right. You're right were all the bars are! We went down Friday night, there were fucking cops on horses and shit. (Pause) It's not really that ghetto, is it??

Friend: Where's the food?

The more I think about this conversation the more I want to cry. Its sad that a 20 year old kid could actually, at some level, think this neighborhood is trashy. How can a block with an average home price of 650k be ghetto unless you've lived an incredibly sheltered life? I realize he was giving his friend a hard time, but: consider New Guy's response. The note of desperation that crept into his voice as he asked for validation that his new place wasn't somehow sub-par. There was a note of truth in there somewhere.

Of course there's humor, too- New Guy trying to argue that the neighborhood qualifies as UN-ghetto due to the nearby presence of bars and cops on horses. Yes, that's how you spot the classy places, folks!

And then there's the fact that I don't like living downstairs from two college kids, even reasonably nice and quiet ones. I wish we could just buy a home and be done with it...but we can't. Not in Nyack! Not on what professors get paid. But nearly all our friends live in Nyack, making a move to another town or county rather unappealing. I haven't yet figured out how to get us un-stuck from this particular issue, especially because it's not just housing prices here, it's also property taxes (which seem to average around 8-9k per year, though 10-12k isn't terribly uncommon).

Perhaps more knitting is the answer...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Little ears

I know, I haven't been posting much lately (and when I have, it's been about cake!). Robert and I are back at school now, and with the prep for that and then actually doing it things have been crazy around here. It always takes us anywhere from a few weeks to a month to adjust to the extra work load, but hopefully I'll be back up to speed soon :)

But really, who wants to hear about how tired I am? Wouldn't you like to hear about cake, instead?

Apparently Liel has noticed my interest in cake. Tonight as we were snuggling before bed she told me that she gave Fluffy a little, little piece of ice cake for a treat after dinner (Fluffy is an ice bat, which Liel understands to mean that he likes to eat ice best of all). Warming to her subject she went on to explain that it was, "A lemon-ice-salt cake- with worms in it". Pause. "And vinegar on top!"


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Cake 2

An update. The peach upside down cake turned out well, but not great. Which is to say: it as delicious, but soggy. Very, very soggy (particularly around the middle bits). But it was so delicious (and, though I hate to say it, low calorie. I'm not a fan of diet food, but I do like it when foods I like are also foods I can eat a lot of, yk? Call it gluttony, call it hedonism, just make sure I am well fed!) that I was willing to experiment a bit.

So I made the cake again tonight. It was a bold move because we were having friends over for dinner, and what if my cake was a soggy mess again? But I faced the peril. This time I made a few changes. First of all I used plums rather than peaches. I don't think this decreased the soggy potential, though, because these plums got a little too much rain during their last few days on tree, which is why I was baking with them in the first place. Next I decreased the amount of liquid in the batter and the glaze, and for my final tweak I baked the cake longer (I figured there was little risk of it drying out, given how much juice the plums were producing in the bowl where I sugared them).

And voila! The cake is delicious. Delicious, I tell you! I even left the butter out this time (this probably helped the cake bake up better- if you do decide to add butter to the glaze you might consider cutting the batter liquid a bit more), accidentally. No loss there, as far as I can tell.

I have a new go-to fruit cake recipe!

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Tomorrow we are going to the birthday party of a dear friend who is turning 4. Last time we attended a child's bday party I forgot to make anything cake or treat-like for my egg-allergic son (bad mama!). I like to think I learn from my mistakes. Today I am baking peach upside-down cake. Some will be consumed tonight, no doubt (after tacos. We currently have the best avocados we've had since leaving California! And the best weather. Coincidence? I think not...), and the rest will go to Valentina's tomorrow.

Now, this might shock you, but I've never made peach upside-down cake before. So away to the internet I went, searching recipes. Who knows what possessed me, but after reading about this cake on VeganYumYum (one of my favorite blog names) I decided to take a leap of faith. The cake is currently in the oven, so who knows how my faith in strangers will pan out this time, but what's life without a little risk (yeah, that's right, baby. I'm the dangerous type, living life on the edge. I make fat free vegan peach upside down cake, better not take your eyes off of me!)?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Cheeringness for Monday

Happy Monday! This will surely bring a smile or 3 to your beautiful face! I love the anger with which he slams the tape into the deck and the pathos he expresses as he languishes against the hood of his BUG. The old gymnastics equipment that just happens to be stored in that old barn ain't half bad, either. In short, folks, this is entertainment.

How do you do it??

It's a daily battle: how to keep the bathroom from smelling like a urinal with a 4 1/2 year old boy around. Seriously, any tips?? It's amazing how many heretofore un-thought of nooks and crannies Zion can get pee into. I spend entirely too much time on the floor around the toilet trying to figure out where that smell is coming from. I mean, he gets the pee into the toilet most of the time, but every 3rd or 4th go he'll let his attention drift at the end and lets go and pees, well, anywhere. The back of the toilet, the hinges (these are a total bitch to try to get clean), the shower door, the floor, the tank, the trashcan...

Do other mamas of little boys have this problem (please say yes, LOL)?

It's not all complaining with Zion, though. He did something really cool today- he started to read! Just a little bit, but he was looking at the WoW Gallery of Pets and accidentally navigated to a different part of the site and couldn't get back to the gallery. He called me for help, but then said, "Oh, I got it, Mommy! I found the "G" for "Gallery" and clicked on that". So cool!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Reunion, indoors

When we weren't busy with fun outdoor activities we read stories, ate, cooked, watched the Olympics, did puzzles, shot pool and sat around. Drinking started around 10am and ended when the last person went to bed. Donohues know how to have a good time!

Uncle Vinny (Robert's brother) reading the kids a bedtime story.

Aunt Julie (Robert's oldest sister) making faces with Liel.

Zion and Uncle Frank (Robert's sister Anne's husband).

Zion and Liel playing with cousin Hayley (Julie's daughter).

Posed picture of the siblings- Kathy (#1), Jim (#4), MaryEllen (#2) in back, and Chris (#6), Grace (mom) and Tom (#5).

Posed picture of Grace with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Back row, L-R: Colleen, Eryn, Craig, Anne, Julie, Sean, Ryan, Robert and Zion, Michael, Michelle, Meghan. Front row, L-R: Jake, Henry, Nathan, Grace, Hayley, Justin, Vinny and Liel. Aside from Zion and Vinny all the grandchildren are in back and great-grands are in front.

Me with my beautiful daughter. Anne took this one, she's amazing!

Reunion, outdoors

Ok, so my own family is tiny. I have 3 first cousins. Robert's family, however, is pretty big (we have friends with bigger, but not many). The reunion we were at was for his mom's family- Kathy is the oldest of 6 kids. 5 of the kids, plus their mom, spouses and (adult) children and grandchildren were at the reunion this year, for a total of nearly 40 people. We all went to Uncle Tom (#5, and props to Eryn for the helpful numbering system!) and Aunt Mary's lake house.

We rented pontoon boats, kayaked, canoed, and fished.

Zion even got to ride a jet ski with Uncle Vinny,

and drive the motorboat with Cousin Sean.


We had two things on the agenda in Madison. First up was visiting Robert's Noona. The Noona/Daddy's Noona thing was a little confusing for the kids, but they enjoyed the visit, esp since R's Noona had a toy car garage for them to play with!

We also went to the House on the Rock. Robert and I first came across reference to The House on the Rock in Neil Gaiman's American Gods (a truly excellent book by one of my favorite authors). When we realized it was so close to Madison we just had to go- call it a pilgrimage of sorts. And the place is AMAZING. It's gilded, ornate, creepy, gothic, and generally unlike anything I've ever seen before. Consequently, we took a lot of pictures and plan to go back the next time we're in the area. Rockstar.

Here we are in front of the Carousel.

The Way Out.

Some Circus Room images.

The Doll Carousel.

Robert and Liel with a castle.

Chicagoland, 2

We're back in New York! Hooray. It's nice to be home :)

We had a wonderful trip, and I've finally resized and done something resembling organization to the pictures. I'm going to put them up in 3 posts. Enjoy!

I'll start things off with a non-Chicagoland picture, shall I? This is from my birthday before we left. Mmmm, birthday peach pie!

Here are the kids filling birdfeeders with Kathy.

Robert's cousins Ryan and Colleen.

Me, Liel, Aunt Dana, Kathy, Uncle Chris.

Bright and early the next morning we all got up and drove north. We stopped in Madison, but the rest of the family went straight up to 3 Lakes for the reunion.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


Well, we made it safely to Kathy's house! We left NY on Monday night around 7pm and got here on Tuesday morning around 6am (7am NY time). R did all the driving cause he's rockstar like that. I managed to sleep (something I rarely can pull off in the car) cause I am rockstar like that. Or something. The kids slept less than one might have liked (esp Liel) but that's life, right?

In a few minutes we're taking the kids to Uncle Tom's dental practice for their first check up. He's a pediatric dentist AND R's uncle (obviously) so we're pretty pleased we get to have him do the first cleaning. Later today Bea, Dana, Ryan, and Colleen will turn up here at Kathy's and spend the night. Tomorrow they will drive up to the reunion with Kathy and we'll go up to Madison to see R's Noona. We'll get to the reunion on Friday.

Yesterday Sleazy drove out from the city and hung out with us all day which was rad. And while I'd love to type more to you now, I have to get dressed and get out of here!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Oh happy day!

I love today. It's one of my favorite days of the year.

Last night I made two super awesome salads for dinner. Here they are, for your enjoyment!

Lentil Salad

4 biggish handfuls of lentils
1 med/large cucumber
1 small red onion
3 med/small beets
grapeseed oil
balsamic vinegar

Put the lentils in a pot and cover with water. Simmer until they are tender, about 20 min. Drain and cool them.

Score the cucumber skin with a fork. Cut lengthwise and remove the seeds. Chop.

Finely chop the onion.

Steam or roast the beets and chop them up.

Mix the lentils with the chopped vegetables. Season with salt, oil, and balsamic to taste.

Quinoa Salad

1 c quinoa
1/2 tsp salt
1-2 tsp sugar
1 green pepper, chopped
1/2 red onion, minced
2 c corn (cut off a cob, or from frozen)
grapeseed oil
red wine vinegar
1 T lemon juice
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp adobo spice mix (if you don't have this you can just use more cumin, or whatever spices you like!)
1 clove garlic, minced
salt to taste
(also would be good here but I didn't have: tomatoes and avocado. Black beans, too)

Cook the quinoa in 1.5 c water with the 1/2 tsp salt. Simmer 20 min til water is absorbed. Cool.

Mix with the veggies. Make a dressing from the oil, vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, cumin, adobo, and garlic. Pour over quinoa and veggies. Add salt as you like.

Anyway, Kenn and Giselle are coming up later today, and Craig and Vivienne and Valentina are coming over, too. I baked a fresh peach pie last night (It's pretty, I'll probably post a pic in my modesty...) and we're grilling tri tip and chicken to go with our huge salad and refreshing lemon ice.