Monday, November 24, 2008

All in a Weekend

We had a big weekend...well maybe just a big day Sunday that spilled out into the weekend.

Andrew was ordained as a priest on Sunday...I'm still not sure exactly how I feel about that, it's exciting and big and it's taken 8 years of discernment and three seminaries in three states and time as a carpenter...and...and...and. Mostly I just feel like it's about time and I know its the right job/calling/ thing for him to be doing. I feel good about his being a priest...there is this sense though, that there's something else I'm supposed to be feeling about it. But I don't so...there we go.

After the huge almost 2 hour ordination service there was a big reception at church and then, since the majority of our nearest and dearest were in town we decided to celebrate Esme's first birthday a week early. That was truly the fun part of the day.

I got up early to make Ice Cream Cupcakes...i know they don't look like much but they were a big hit.

Our friends Julie & Daron were here from New York with their son Isaac who was born just 5 days after Esme on my birthday, Andrew's mom helped me make birthday crowns for Esme and Isaac...we sang happy birthday to both of them and they each got a special strawberry ice cream cupcake. Esme was much less shy about pushing her face right into hers but we figured this was just the practice run for Isaac anyway!
There are some more pictures coming...they are what I've been waiting for, but I can't wait any longer (Emily :)) You can see Isaac's crown in this picture. Andrew's mom made these great crowns for the kids (I'm much better at the vision than the execution so thank goodness she was here) Anyway, Esme hated hers but Isaac actually left his on so at least you can see one.

We had a great party and I can hardly believe that just a year ago I hadn't even met this little girl that has become my whole world!!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

So today Esme and I were getting ready to leave the house to go run errands.

I went to the closet to get my coat and when I came back Esme was standing at the door with her new strawberry hat on inside out.
The whole image was so hilarious...that she knew we were leaving...that she thought to get her hat and that she put it on herself, something she's never done.
I ran for the camera and was able to sort of catch it.

Thanks Grandma for the first hat Esme likes!!

I also had to take a picture of her outfit today...I think it's cute. Someone gave us this little outfit, it's a fur collared, leopard print lined vest and the jeans have leopard print on the bottom too. I do admit that I think the jeans are a bit over the top and she'll probably never wear them again.

But overall I thought it was too cute with her little esme star onesie that jess made her.
Andrew hates it but maybe that just makes me think it's even cuter :)

So here are the promised pictures of the goat...the step up is a little high which is why Esme ends up on her knees...the next platform actually holding the goat statue is also at an angle which makes walking while touching the goat a dangerous (and nearly irresistable) proposal...

Last but not least here's how Esme helps with dinner at the end of the day:

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Fall walk

Yesterday Esme, Francis, Clare and I went for a long walk.

It was such a beautiful CRISP fall day and the dogs needed some exercise so i couldn't resist. We walked down to the river and followed this great path the city made next to the railroad tracks.
As a sleeping Esme can be rather quiet company I spent a lot of the walk imagining Francis and Clare's inner monologues. I think the first thing you need to know are what Francis and Clare's voices sound like, this has already been decided in our household of long ago.
Francis sounds like that really stupid wrestler you knew in high school...the one who was trying to take as many shop and gym classes as possible every year. This is particularly appropriate as Francis' neck is bigger than his head so he sort of looks like a wrestler as well.
Clare I think would sound like Glinda the good witch from the Wizard of Oz. A bit high and breathy but not totally annoying, just sort of distracted or otherworldly. I also imagine that she almost always talks in full sentences...except when she's acting puppyish inside with Francis, then I think she forgets...but otherwise very proper full sentences all the way.
So the middle portion of our walk, where we were near the grass, river and foliage I think went something like this:

Clare (upon almost finding a perfect place to poop, and believe me this is a production): Oh this is a lovely spot (sniff, sniff, sniff) with the water so close and such soft green grass, I could relieve myself here, I'll just slowly lower mysel..ah excuse me! who else has been here? I smell something...let me just follow that and oh the clanging (as she notices something above clanging on the flag pole) Why this will not do at all, just won't do, how can a girl get comfortable in these surroundings, and now there are probably people watching! carry on, carry on!

Francis (as we carry on): A squirrel...a squirrel I smell a squirrel...oh wait a bird I like birds, almost like a squirrel...I'll chase it mom I'll chase it...just let me go I think I can catch this one -- abirdasquirrelabird...I'll get itI'll get it!

Clare (as I drag Francis away from the bird): ah such a lovely smelling friend to urinate here, I must invite them over for rawhide...truly lovely. I must meet all of these dogs, so little time!

Francis (a bit later): Asquirrelasquirrela...leaf? fun a leaf, I'll pretend it's a squirrel, it runs just like a squirrel, come on let's go...get the leafaleafasquirrel, I mean a leaf!!!!

Esme's inner monologue I imagine to be even simpler as we walk:
"ah...mommy makes the best pillow"

After exhausting the dogs, Esme and I went back out to the goat. The man who plays his guitar in the park invited Esme to strum the strings and then to play the back like a drum. It was too cute, you could see she really wanted to, but just wasn't sure. She would sort of hit at it and back away quickly.
Today was also her first time wearing mittens which was hillarious. A little boy shared his matchbox cars and she could not figure out how to hold on to them wearing the mittens, dexterity I think will take some practice!
When we got home I had to put in a load of laundry and in my haste to get it started I left the gate at the bottom of the stairs open...I came out of kitchen and minute later (literally) and could not see Esme anywhere...after a panicked moment I ran up the stairs to find her playing with her upstairs toys in the hallway.
Andrew took a video of her at work today to show just how that happened:
(and yes...that is a pretzel in her hand, you never know when you need a quick snack while climbing)

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Recipe

Melissa asked me to post the recipe for the Shephards Pie I made...which is such a compliment.
And I figured I would do it...on one condition.
Please please please...anyone who reads this, comment on the post with your favorite recipe.
I really am trying to learn to cook for my family and the hardest part is to think of what to cook.
Please just give me your easiest...most used...favorite...whatever recipe.
Then they'll all be here for anyone who wants to grab one!

This will get us started
Shephards Pie:
Here is how to make Shepherds Pie for 8.

2lbs ground beef
1lb. Ground Lamb (Fresh not frozen, if you can find it).
Beef or Chicken Stock
5-6 lbs potatoes (Russets or Yukon Gold).
Two large sweet Yellow onion peeled and chopped
5 cloves Garlic
5-6 good shakes of Worcestershire Sauce
1-2 cups of Red Wine (a relatively heavy red- Cabernet or some blend)
1 small can Tomato Paste
Italian seasoning

Mix together the beef and lamb and then brown it (by adding two tablespoons of olive oil to pan, heating over medium heat until oil is hot then putting beef/lamb mixture in. You might need to do this in several lots depending on the size of pan-if you “crowd” the meat it will tend to steam rather then brown nicely). Stir regularly as it browns so all of meat gets brown and then use a colander or a mesh filter to get rid of all the fat.
Start water boiling to cook potatoes
Clean out pan and add another two tablespoons of oil, heat as before using medium heat and when hot add the chopped onion. Cook with stirring until onion is soft and transparent but not brown. Then add 5-6 cloves of pealed garlic which you have chopped quite fine. Cook for another two minutes then add filtered, browned beef/lamb mixture back into pan with onions and garlic.
Add one and a half cups of wine, one cup of beef or chicken stock, two tablespoon of Tomato paste and a few good shakes of Italian Seasoning or other spices that you fancy oregano, thyme, sage etc.
Cook for about 15 mins adding more wine or water if it seems to be getting dry. You can let it simmer for as long as you need (for me this part was like 45 min. while I got the potatoes ready and cooked)
Season meat to taste with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile peel the potatoes and slice into slices about a quarter of an inch thick. Put into large sauce pan, (if you haven't already, fill pan with water add a good big pinch of salt and bring to boil.)
Let simmer for about 25 mins until potatoes are nice and soft. Filter off water using colander, return potatoes to pan and mash. Add 2 tablespoons of butter, mix in then add some warmed milk, mixing until potatoes are smooth and moist. add salt and pepper to taste.
To assemble Put cooked beef mixture in bottom of oven proof casserole dish. Spoon mashed potatoes on top and using back of a fork cover evenly the whole dish with the potato mixture.

Cook at 350 in oven for 20-30 mins then take out and sprinkle very sharp, white grated cheddar cheese on top. Return to oven; adjust shelf so top of shepherds pie is about an inch and a half from element. Broil until cheese is melted, bubbly and nicely browned.
After this step I added tomatos on top before serving...another variation is to add carrots and or peas in with the beef mixtures as it's simmering.

Take out, serve immediately or let cool and then cover with foil and keep in fridge overnight. Take out from fridge one and a half hours before wanting to serve it. Heat oven to 350 put shepherds pie in and reheat until hot all the way through (about 50 minutes).

We ate this for over a week and it still tasted great!!!
Thanks Ernie for such a great recipe!

Don't forget to add your own favorite recipe by using the comment button below...thanks!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A day in the life

I had to post this video because I think it's hilarious.
Ever since I changed computers I've had a bunch of video problems. I'm sorry it's sideways but I can't figure out how to turn it. I thought it was so funny that I had to post it anyway.
The first funny thing is that the video is taken at the area of the park closest to us where all the parents and kids congregate. Everyone says things like I'll meet you at "the goat" it is called that becuase it is a bronze statue of a goat...there is seriously almost nothing kid friendly about the location. I'll have to take a picture of it for a future post. It is actually probably kid hazardous more than anything...
So this is Esme playing at the goat and I think the video pretty clearly illustrates a number of the joys of a "hardened city childhood" ;) enjoy!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

One more proud moment

I forgot to mention that last Friday night I made dinner for some guests we were having over.

I know how silly this sounds but I made probably the most complicated thing I've ever cooked, Shepherds Pie (I swear it's harder than it sounds).

After a few hours in the kitchen...cutting, sauteeing, mashing and baking

forcing an exhausted Esme to cry herself to sleep

and about four phone calls to Andrew's dad

Dinner was finally served...I had to take a picture of the final result and I was so proud when everyone asked for seconds!!!


Halloween and other fun

As usual time has flown by since my last post.
Not too many new happenings here. Here's a video of some recent talking:

Esme is becoming more and more social if that is possible. Anywhere we go she befriends total strangers, waving hi, sometimes even saying hi, grabbing hands, offering food, she is impossible to keep in even ten places during church on Sunday. She has become the unofficial greeter and the ushers have welcomed her into their ranks (some of them clearly begrudgingly as they almost trip over her every now and then).

I do have to give her lots of credit for her ability to survive through an hour and a half church service sometimes twice a week. She plays, walks around, sings with the choir, sometimes tries to talk (usually when her daddy is talking). Luckily she is rarely truly loud and does fairly appropriate things to entertain herself the whole time.

We made two great trips to the suburbs in the last two weeks. During the first someone told us about a church rummage sale!

I found a great little piano (just the kind of toy I didn't want to buy her) it's plasticy and plays songs in that funny kid sound...but she loves it...she could not leave it alone and since we got it she's been stretching her little fingers up to every real piano we come near, pounding on the keys and when she plays her piano at home she sings along and dances. The best part is that it was only five dollars so I really didn't feel like I was selling out too much.

Last week we went to a consignment store and I got a couple sweaters and a long sleeved shirt that actually fit me...a bonus as this weather drops below 50 and my clothes are all about two sizes too big. I also found Esme the cutest little yellow sweater that looks like it was knit by your grandma's was two bucks, yeah consignment!!

We're kicking into high gear to prepare for Andrew's ordination on November favorite part is that Andrew will be going on retreat for three days the week before, anyone want a dog or two for a few days? I think his boss must think I'm superwoman or something...three days alone with two dogs (high energy dogs did I mention) and a baby (let me edit that as well...indefatigable toddler)?

I forgot to mention Esme was a flower fairy for Halloween...I've attached some pictures. Thanks to Grandma Mary Ellen for the flower hat and Auntie Melanie for the tutu and adorable onesie she got tons of compliments!