Move Over Mary Poppins!

The real life adventures of one nanny, her husband, child, dogs, house, and whatever else crosses her path.

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Location: MA, United States

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Two Guys Are Standing Around...

First guy says, "How long can you survive without a brain?"

Second guy says, "How old are you?"

J's joke of the evening... Comic genius, obviously.

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Cook With Your Kids, or Someone Else's...

Miss E has been asking me for cake decorating lessons for a month now, and today we finally had a few hours when o was sleeping and J was still at school, so we did it. Together, we constructed a 3-tier, jewel box cakelet, and E was responsible for most of it. I really only helped a little, and provided instruction.

Here are some shots of the results!

From Cooking Class

From Cooking Class

She's really quite good for an impatient, five year old frosting fiend...

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Venison Shoulder with Elderberry-Beach Plum Sauce & Mashed Root Vegetables: A Recipe

This recipe was improvised after doing a little reading on game roasts. As the venison was shot in southern VT by a friend of the family, I wanted to cook it with local ingredients, and highlight some of the unusual and cool things that I've collected around New England.

You should also bear in mind that while I am a trained chef-type, I am not a professional cookbook author/editor. I just wrote down what I did.

2# venison shoulder roast*
2 c. Elderberry Wine**
1 T. dried rosemary
1 T. dried minced garlic
ground black pepper to taste

salt & black pepper to taste
4 T. flour
4 t. olive oil
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1 onion, quartered

2 medium carrots, rough chopped
2 large potatoes, rough chopped
1 medium turnip, rough chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 T. salt
2 T. butter
1/2 c. whole milk

2 T. water and
2 T. cornstarch, combined into a slurry
1/4 c. wild beach plum jelly***
salt and white pepper to taste

Add venison roast to a large zip-top bag with next four ingredients, seal and allow to marinate overnight, up to 48 hours, turning occasionally to maximize marinating.

Remove venison from marinade, pour marinade into crock pot/slow cooker. Season the roast with salt and pepper, then dust with flour. Heat olive oil in a skillet, and brown all sides of the roast. Transfer roast to the slowcooker. Deglaze the pan with the vinegar, and transfer all pan juices to the slow cooker. Add the onion quarters to the slow cooker, and set on Low for 8 to 10 hours.

Cover potatoes and root vegetables with water, bring to a boil, and cook until tender. Drain the water, add butter and milk. Add the onions from the slow cooker and mash. (The mash is rustic, chunks are OK!) Season to taste.

While potatoes are cooking, remove the roast and onions from the slow cooker and set aside. Transfer juices from slow cooker to a saucepan, bring to a boil, lower heat, and reduce by half. Strain the sauce into another saucepan, bring back to a boil, add the cornstarch slurry, and cook one more minute, until thickened. Remove the sauce from the heat and add the beach plum jelly. Season with salt and white pepper to taste.

Slice and serve the roast with the mashed vegetables and sauce! Yum!

*Thanks to my Uncle Mike for shooting the buck who gave his shoulder to this effort!
**I got this from Grand View Winery in East Calais, VT.
***This came from the Chatham Jam & Jelly Shop, Chatham, MA

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Two Sheep are Standing in a Field...

The first sheep says, "Bah."

The second sheep says, "Moo."

First sheep says, "Moo? What's 'Moo?'"

Second sheep says, "Oh, I'm learning a foreign language."

J's turn to entertain us at the dinner table tonight. Nice.

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One! One Mitten! AhAhAh!!!

From Knitting

Three more to go...


Monday, November 27, 2006

Variation On A Venison Shoulder

Gentle reader, you thought I was done with food for a while (or at least you hoped)...

My Dad called last night to inform me that he was bringing me a 2-pound shoulder roast of venison from his buddy Mike's last kill. Nice!

Now... what should I do with it? I'm thinking since it's shoulder, and likely tough, that I'll marinate it in red wine (I've got a VT-made Elderberry wine I'm dying to try out) and rosemary, perhaps coriander? with some garlic and maybe a little vinegar?

Brown it on the stove, toss in some onion, carrot, celery, with the marinade and some stock, and braise it in the oven (or my crock pot - je ne suis pas home a lot)...

While the meat rests, reduce the liquid for pan sauce...

Mashed potatoes with the pot veggies mashed in...



Sunday, November 26, 2006

I Really Did Have to Clean (but I snuck in some fun stuff, too)

Red Chinese Barbequed Pork Loin!
From Brasserie MoMP

Finishing touches on Rylee's Christmas Hat!
From Knitting

Mark took the future front parlor from this:
From Fallingdown H...
To this:
From Fallingdown H...

Oh! and this is the hat I knitted for my brother. I'm not the best model in the world, but you get the idea:
From Knitting

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Brasserie MoMP: Cooking is Way More Fun than Cleaning!

Today's chores are supposed to include cleaning the litter box, changing the sheets, and dusting, sweeping, mopping, and vacuuming.

So far today, I've gone to WW, strained the chicken stock from yesterday, divided it, and started a big pot of beef stew... Avoiding things much? (Happily, my iBook is in the kitchen with me, so I can blog while cooking with minimum trouble)
From Brasserie MoMP

Note the purple potatoes! How cool is that?

Next, Bolognese sauce (a la my Mom), and cajun seasoned crawfish stock...
From Brasserie MoMP
From Brasserie MoMP

In home inprovement news, Mark is refitting the front door into the newly rebuilt wall, and we may even install the new double window!


Friday, November 24, 2006

Brasserie MoMP Starts Production!

Ah, the day after Thanksgiving. While, just three scant miles from my house, thousands of lathered shoppers lined up outside stores at 5AM, I slept in a little, then came downstairs to pay some bills online and do a few dishes. I made a grocery list, and started a pot of chicken stock.
From Brasserie MoMP
I made some veggie stew, and then got myself dressed 'round noon.

I interviewed a prospective Middlebury student (ED1 applications are complete as of 11/28) at the Starbucks near my house (need to file my report on him - like now!), and then hit Trader Joe's (by the by, Fibby, those Candy Cane JoJo's are really good!)

Home again, home again with groceries galore, to start baking the sticky buns
From Brasserie MoMP
From Brasserie MoMP
for Day-After-OysterFestivus, as well as some white bread
From Brasserie MoMP
for sandwiches and french toast. Tomorrow I'll put together a big pot of Bolognese sauce and a beef stew, and maybe roast a pork loin in Chinese red rub for wonton soup... I love the holidays!

I did miss out on some spectacular early bird shopping experiences at Kohl's and Macy's, but since my Christmas shopping is mostly done already (yay for the Internets!), I guess I don't have to cry in the night too much about it.

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Giving the Thanks

I just got home from two family gatherings, one with my husband's family, and one with my own... I really do have a remarkable family.

At Mark's family Thanksgiving, there were four folks over the age of eighty who played two hours of cutthroat nickel-and-dime poker after the turkey. Mark's mother is always so glad to have us all around, and it's always enlightening to meet my youngest brother-in-law's new girlfriend... To think that I was lucky enough to marry into a loving family - even if half of them speak a French-Canadian patois I'll never understand...

And in an unprecedented move, people actually ate the cheesecake I brought!

When we met up with my extended family at my aunt and uncle's home, there were ... well let me count... twenty! twenty of us there... and it just reminded me how lucky I am in the group of people who had a hand in my raising, and the littlest ones that I'm having a hand in raising in turn.

Which brings me to thoughts of my other families, one of which sustained a stunning loss this past summer when Glenn died. So, I have to remember how thankful I am for them, and that I should say so more often.

In a few weeks, we'll celebrate the arrival of the holiday season with another of our families, at the OysterFestivus, and I love that our group expands and changes with the years, bringing new friends in, and opening for spice (plural of spouse!) and new additions, as well as the oldest of Mark's friends, who began the tradition with him eight years ago.

And in closing, I am, of course, thankful for Mark and I and our fallingdown house, and our crazy animals, and my kiddos at work.

On to the leftovers!

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Vermont State Craft Fair Road Trip, Day Two

I slept well and slept in! Amazing! Asleep before 11 and up at 8, with no alarm clocks. ::sigh::

After a shower and the lovely continental breakfast at the Comfort Inn, we headed over to the craft show, where we got down to buying business. Personally, I didn't shop so much this year, but I did make a few choice purchases:

For my MiL, 4 refrigerator magnets for her collection from House Mouse Designs.
For us, some spice rubs and mixes from Halladay's Harvest Barn.
For me, yarn from Jamie Harmon, who handspins and dyes in Jericho, VT, and I left a very cool vodka bottle with Chris Jeffrey, who fuses glass, and makes really cool novelty platters out of glass bottles. I'll show it off when it comes back to me, promise!

Mom shopped more...

We left Burlington heading south on I-89 around 2, and by 3:15 we were pulling into the parking lot at King Arthur Flour. We did some more shopping there, grabbed a meal we dubbed "tea," since we were eating half sandwiches and small pastries at 4 in the afternoon. The lemon tartlets at the store bakery counter are scrumptious!

Home again to Mom's house, then into my VW and home to Framingham. Mark and I celebrated my triumphant return with a trip to Oishii, Too, for sashimi and seaweed salads.

Good weekend!

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

Vermont State Craft Fair Road Trip, Day One

This morning, I made my west to Worcester to meet my Mom at my parents' house. Every weekend before Thanksgiving, Mom and I head north to Burlington, VT for the Vermont Hand Crafters, Inc. Annual Holiday Fine Crafts & Art Show. We were out of Worcester by 9 AM, and by 9:15 we had coffee and bagels in hand and were leaving Paxton, MA, behind...

The ride north was uneventful. I made Mom a CD (another annual tradition), which quickly gave way to a few hours of iPod fun, and after only one quick bathroom stop in Rutland, we were in Middlebury!

We headed straight for Noonie's Deli in the Marbleworks for sandwiches, and walked across the river to Frog Hollow to check out their offerings before heading still further north.

Mom and I may be creatures of tradition, but we're always open to a little adventure, and this year we found it in Charlotte! The Charlotte Senior Center was hosting a benefit Artisan's Fair. We turned off Route 7 at the traffic light in Charlotte, and there it was! We saw mostly cutsie stuff, with the exception of two presenters. One was an extraordinary quilter, and the other made appliqued felted wool scarves that were to die for!

As we made our exit, we saw signs for Charlotte Village Winery!

Winery! Oooooooh!

Turns out the wine is pretty good. We had a free tasting, a nice chat with one of the owners, and bought a few bottles to support the wine making. Plus the view from the tasting room and attached deck was an unobstructed Adirondack Mountain vista, complete with sparkling Lake Champlain spread out below. ::sigh::

After checking in to the Comfort Inn on Williston Rd, we looked up some movie times, and headed back into Burlington to park the car near Church St. We picked up some penuche at Lake Champlain Chocolates, and bought two tickets to see "A Good year". Dinner was at American Flatbread's Burlington Hearth - delicious!

Color us crashed. To bed!

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Learn to Draw with your Kids!

The kids have this adorable and very cool book that shows how to draw a vast array of critters using lines, dots, and very simple shapes. We spent a few hours yesterday playing with their art case and this book before I realized that you could apply all of these ideas to the paint program!

Ladies, and Gentlemen, my Masterpiece!

From Miscellany

I will be having an exhibition to benefit our renovations fund, look for your invitations....


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Leek Girl

Because I have nothing of interest to say for myself, I'm inundating you with things that amuse me.

My eccentric and lovable pal from the Vajrapani Institute was in town for the Corrdins wedding, and while he stayed with me, he entertained me with fun things from "the internets."

The link below is hypnotic and bizarre. The power of Leek Girl compels you....
LeekGirl Dot Com

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O and I spent a part of our monrning hunting for puddles. It's been raining for two days here in Boston, and there are so many places, just waiting to be filled with rainwater! We put on our wellies and headed out....

And we found so many puddles. O came home drenched to the skin from his toes up to his chubby baby thighs. He splashed so hard that the water got in over the tops of his frog wellies and soaked his socks. It was a blast! I got wet, but I'm taller (as are my boots), so the splashing doesn't quite affect me the same way.

By the way, enjoy the updated layout. It's not terribly different, but it gives you more ways to enjoy the work we do here at MoMP. Plus, now I can say I went Beta. Ooooh. Beta....


Monday, November 13, 2006

Conditions Are Perfect for the Rhymenocerous

I was sent the following links by Mrs. Corrdin, last week (back when she was Ms. Jurist-Schulman...). Enjoy!

I'm a fan.

Ooh, and while you're on YouTube, look for "Albi the Racist Dragon"....

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Mazel Tov! Part Two

Veronique and Will are now the Corrdins!

I have completed my bridesmaiding/wedding duties for the weekends, and two dear friends are now husband and wife.

The ceremony was lovely, and as I've never attended, never mind participated in, a real Jewish wedding, I learned a lot, and saw some pretty cool stuff.

I am exhausted.

Mark and I have no more weddings for the foreseeable future, and despite the fun we've had at the six weddings we've been to/been a part of this year, we're ok with that.

Love to Allen, Angela, Veronique, & Will!

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Mazel Tov! Part One

Off to Tiverton, RI, today for the wedding of my old friend Allen, and his too-cool-for-words fiancee, Angela.

Fabulous ceremony, great location, good people, super yum food!

One more wedding this weekend. This one's promising to be a good old fashioned Jewish wedding, and I'm a bridesmaid. I'm also building my first chuppah... More on that another day.

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MoMP: the DIY Home Edition

I promised photos of our home destruction - er... renovation. Lalala...
This is from last Tuesday. Below is the room under construction, looking out towards the driveway. the front door has been removed, and the bay window is next...

... and then the wall itself:

Look, Ma! No walls!

The framing for the new larger, non-bay window is in, but we're all plywooded in for the time being. Window installation at a later date - also reinstallation of the front door.
We are the ghetto house on our block. Sweet tarp.

Inside, Mark is trying to raise the second floor a little, since over time the framing has drooped about two inches from back to front. Eeek!


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Baby Hat & Mittens

A while back I hinted at a super cute knitting project that was a surprise gift - well, here it is:

I knitted these up from Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran - yummy soft and baby friendly! They are an early gift for my author/journalist pal in NY. I just finished, but haven't yet phtographed, a folded brim hat that will be a Christmas gift - Malabrigo worsted marino in variagated brown tones. Yum...

I'm also working on a "swatch scarf" in the same yarns as my hat and mittens project from last spring. I'm practicing a whole bunch of knit/purl patterns and lace techniques in blocks on the scarf. Could be a disaster, could look pretty cool. I'll definitely need to block it, though. More on that when it's relevant.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Three Days Ago...

... this is what the house looked like:


Knock on Wood!

My iBook and I are reunited....

And it feels so good.
We have a fresh LogicBoard at no cost to my hard drive or my wallet. Oh, happy day.

Is it wrong to love a machine this way? Perhaps I've been watching too much Doctor Who (iBook=TARDIS)? or Battlestar Galactica (iBook=Cylon)?


Saturday, November 04, 2006

Italian Food Orgy

Having spent the past three days wallowing in recovery from WORD PROBLEMS, I am now sufficiently stuffed full of Italian food to go on writing.

We had a lovely evening last night. We stayed in Boston after work, taking advantage of my parking pass, and had dinner at Antico Forno in the North End with the Gottliebs (please click here for Ari's Blog). A&J have a very cute apartment in the North End, allowing us to walk over from Beacon Hill, and have a drink there, before heading to my favorite North End haunt for dinner. I ate what felt like my weight in antipasti and baked gnocchi, drank a very nice mid-priced Chianti, and then went to Bova's Bakery (best 24 hour pastry shop in the Universe), where we got tiramisu cups to go.

Yes, I said, tiramisu cups to go. Wipe up your drool. Slob.

We slept in, and now Mark is busy trying to put our house back together a little, following the destruction of the past two weekends.

Maurice and I are off to the dog park. You're SO jealous.

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Meatball Vindication and Word Problems

Let me just start by saying that I love the three children for whom I care. I mean really love them! It's just that it can be immensely frustrating co-parenting kids who aren't yours, sometimes, even with parents who are mostly on the same page as you are.

That said, I did consider throttling Miss E two nights ago when, at the mention of "meatballs florentine" (ie, meatballs with cheese and spinach - thanks, R. Ray, for the inspiration), she began making retching noises.

When, some time later, she very delicately pushed the plate of meatballs away and said, in her hautiest tones, "I'm not eating that." I saw red. Literally. In the end, she didn't grace the dinner table with her presence, and cried her mother a river about how starved and abused she was. I left seething, but swearing that I'd just let it roll, since ultimately I'm not the Mom, right?

Turns out, Mom made her try it, and lo! She liked it! She admitted that spinach, when mixed up with cheese and meat and tomatoey goodness, is not so vile and spinachy.

Hooray for disguised veggies, hooray for successful coparenting, and lesson for me: don't underestimate your co-parents!

Today I face a demon from my own mathematically challenged past - THE WORD PROBLEM.

Jack's homework is easy enough to do conceptually, but the word problem structure makes my brain shrivel up. Man, I suck. I think he thinks a little bit like I do, too, since the structure clouds the math for him as well. He and I have a long road ahead of us, I fear. And I'd better brush up on my math...