Saturday, April 21, 2007

Emma's First Swim

Today was absolutely gorgeous: 72 degrees and sunny, with the next few days getting even warmer. (Definitely beats a nor'ester with flooding that lasted almost a week.) To celebrate, we took Emma for her first swim at our building's indoor pool. The water felt a little chilly, but Emma didn't seem to mind. She's pretty ambivalent to water: doesn't hate it, but doesn't seem to love it either. We put her legs and and sat her down on the step so she could splash. Maybe next time we'll bring a rubber ducky with us. As for me, I think it's time for a new bathing suit. Not to mention a little color. I think I'll forget to put sunscreen on when I take Emma to the park on Monday.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Weekend Ritual

So it's not the weekend anymore, and this picture was actually taken two weekends ago, but I thought I'd share anyway because the picture is cute. Every weekend I try to read the entire New York Times (okay, not every article, but I at least look at every section). I like to keep up on the arts (even though we haven't been to anything in ages because someone doesn't take a bottle), real estate prices, what's going on out here in the 'burbs, etc. Dave is more of a WSJ fan so it's usually just me reading the paper. But Emma has decided to join me! Though she's more interested in trying to eat the paper than read it...

PS. We've been stuck inside since Sunday because of flooding from a nor'easter (for those of you out West, it's when 2 storms combine into one huge one). We never lost power and there was only some street flooding near us, but we stayed in just to be sure. Today we are venturing out to Target, so hopefully all is well.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Stop it, Al Gore!

We have a theory in our house that every time Al Gore starts talking about global warming, the temperature drops 30 degrees. March was quite lovely (see our post on the zoo), but ever since a UN report on global warming came out at the beginning of the month, April has been a bust. Now, I've been in the northeast long enough to know that bad weather happens. But as my mom pointed out yesterday, usually bad days are followed by good days. I keep watching the news everyday in the hope that at the end of the five-day forecast, there will be a sign of sun. Alas, I am still waiting. Give us a break, Al, it's the middle of April! If global warming is happening, bring it on!
PS. I don't think the pictures gives the full effect: imagine crazy winds and you've got it. At least the temperature is 5 degrees above freezing so it's rain instead of snow.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Lemon-Blueberry Cupcakes

I made these for dessert yesterday and they were FABULOUS. The recipe comes from Cooking Light magazine, so they're good for you, too.

1 1/2 cupes plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
10 tablesoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 large egg
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/2 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
3/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, thawed

1/4 cup (2 oz.) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Fresh blueberries for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place paper muffin cup liners into muffin cups.
2. To prepare cupcakes, sift together 1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. Combine melted butter and egg in another large bowl; stir with a whisk. Add buttermilk, milk, and 1 teaspoon rind to butter mixture; stir with a whisk. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture, stirring until just moist. Toss blueberries with remaining 1 tablespoon flour. Fold blueberries into batter. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.
3. To prepare frosting, place cream cheese, 2 tablespoons butter, 1 teaspoon rind, vanilla, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until just blended. Gradually add powdered sugar (do not overbeat). Stir in juice. Spread frosting evenly over cupcakes; garnish with blueberries. Store, covered in refrigerator. Makes 1 dozen cupcakes.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Happy Easter!

We had a delightful Easter Sunday. Emma looked adorable in her dress, which was a gift from Grandpoppy Kern. We started the day by visiting our old ward in Manhattan, where our good friends were blessing their baby. It was nice to see friends we had lost contact with. In the afternoon, we enjoyed goodies from our Easter baskets. Here is Emma's:

And here is ours:

(The exercise DVD is for Dave :).This evening we had some friends over for dinner, which was lovely. If I'm going to cook a lot of food I like to have other people to help us eat it, though as it is, it looks like I'll be eating ham all week. All in all a lovely day.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

I recently finished reading this book for my book club. I've read it several times, starting in high school, and it is one of my absolute favorites. It is not a happy book by any means, but Tess is a fabulous character. You can't help but admire her spunk and independence, and...well, I don't want to say too much in case you want to read it. It's a great story, but it also makes a good case study of fate vs. free will, traditions, and a transitioning society. I really like Hardy's writing style too--it's quite lyrical and symbolic, if a bit overdone at times. (But maybe that's because my copy is all marked up from when I was going to teach it to my AP kids). Anyway, read it, especially if you're a fan of British lit, but even if you're not. You will love Tess.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Happy feet!

This is Emma's new favorite position. After I change her diaper she starts playing with her feet, and her hands are usually in her mouth all of the time these days. It's adorable until she reaches out to touch you with a clammy, slobbery hand. :) Her feet haven't made it to her mouth yet, but stay tuned. I have no doubt that it's coming soon.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Steamed Salmon and Aparagus in Parchment

1 1/2 lbs. small new potatoes
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced
4 salmon fillets (about 6 oz. each)
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
4 scallions, trimmed and sliced
4 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 lemons, halved

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Put the potatoes on the sheet and season with 1 teaspoon of the salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper. Distribute the butter over the potatoes. Roast in the top of the oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until done.

Meanwhile, lay out 4 sheets of parchment (at least 13 by 13 inches) and place 1 fillet on top of each. Top with the asparagus, scallions, and tarragon. Drizzle with the oil and season with the remaining salt and pepper. Top each fillet with a lemon half, after first squeezing on the juice. Pull the sides of the paper over each fillet, folding several times to seal. Fold and twist the ends to form rectangular parcels. Place them on a sheet pan. Bake on lower rack for 20 to 25 minutes while the potatoes finish cooking.

Place a salmon parcel on each plate and cut open. Serve with the potatoes.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Why I Hate Hollywood

This weekend the Netflix fairy brought "Stranger Than Fiction." I remember seeing the previews last fall and thinking (for the first time in a long time) that I actually wanted to pay $10 to see it in the theater. But it came out the week Emma was born, so I had to wait for the DVD.

It did not disappoint. The storyline is funny and poignant, and quite possibly the most original thing to come out of the film industry in decades. Will Ferrell's character was completely endearing. The ending was a nice twist, and in semi-"Napoleon Dynamite" fashion, brought a deeper meaning to the rest of the story. Fabulous--Dave and I BOTH loved it.

Except. (You knew this was coming, didn't you?) There is one scene in the movie where Will Ferrell's character is talking to Dustin Hoffman's character, and in the background is a locker room scene where there are naked men showering. It has absolutely nothing to do with the conversation, but some moron decided to stage the scene there. And I ask: If they HAD to use the locker room, couldn't they just use the plain lockers as a background? Or bathroom stalls with doors closed?

Now, to be fair, the movie wasn't completely clean. There was another conversation at urinals, a few choice words, and I believe 2 bedroom scenes where there was making out while fully clothed (hinting at other things, of course). But the locker room showers in the background just really got me. WHY? I loved everything else about this movie, but this scene almost ruins it for me. Too bad "Clean Flicks" isn't around anymore.

Which brings me to my point: I hate Hollywood. Even in otherwise good movies, they have to sneak in junk like this. It's absolutely ridiculous and apalling to me. I suppose that's why I stopped going to movies in the first place, but obviously enough people still go to keep it going strong. So I will keep my $10 and the $20 I might have spent on the DVD and go buy a new book. Take that, Babylon!