Sunshine. In our part of the world we spend the end of summer soaking up every last drop and ray knowing that once the rain comes it's here for a while.
Birthdays. Celebrating a DNA sister and a sister-by-choice, both in the same week.
Moonlit evening park time with the girls and friends. Watching their Uncle Jordan chase them all around the playground and play soccer with Pea. Turning just in time to see Birdie pushing her stroller at a fast trot. Catching up with her and realizing she was pushing while running on her knees (poor little knees.)
Celebrating another friend's ordination. She is fearless and opinionated and gracious and wise beyond her years, and she works tirelessly and selflessly for everything she believes in. Jessica, the church needs to get over itself and let more women like you lead.
Feeling awe, once again, at the women my girls get to know, love and look up to. Women who tell it like it is and don't leave out anything--joy, pain, heartache, grace. Women who are outspoken about injustice and oppression everywhere they see it. Women who are amazing mothers--to their own children and to each other.
Look at these girls... Am I the luckiest Mama in the world, or what?
Such a funny word, pumpkin. Say it slowly, 4 or 5 times. See what I mean?
I'm ready for fall smells and tastes, though I'm still not ready to be for-reals done with summer. I mean, it's been in the 80's and 90's this week so it's hard to be thinking about crispy sweaters and heavy boots just yet. I'm trying to walk that fine middle line--dinner tonight was pasta tossed with fresh baby spinach, end-of-summer tomatoes, pesto, and pine nuts. But this week I also made two big batches of these babies...
...and good gracious, the house smells good. I guess I like pumpkin bread. I mean I have a fabulous recipe for banana bread (moist, golden, eggy...), and make a chocolate zucchini bread that will leave you in (happy tears), and one year for Thanksgiving I made pumpkin bread pudding. Yum. But pumpkin bread? Never have I really wished or thought about making it. It just seems so Starbucks, anymore, kind of blase, kind of done. But I love the taste of pumpkin and the smell of pumpkin things cooking...
I found a recipe that looked promising (from this book here), changed the spice measurements because no offense to the author but "dash of nutmeg"? Are we afraid of over-spicing? In all fairness the waffle recipe in this book is the one Pea and Jeffrey make almost every weekend and it is GOOD. But I can't cook without tinkering a bit so I jacked up the spices, used white whole wheat flour to add more fiber and make me feel less guilty about the amount Birdie was sure to consume, and added an extra egg. One time I even added raisins, but I'm pretty sure the only raisins that should be used in something like this are the golden ones my Grandma Joy called sultanas. The dark ones were too sharp tasting.
So here you go: pumpkin muffins that make your house taste and smell like fall. They are really so very very good with a hot cup of french-pressed coffee.
Pumpkin-Apple Spice Muffins
(adapted from The Big Book of Breakfast)
2 1/2 c. white whole wheat flour
2 c. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 c. canned pumpkin
1/2 c. canola or olive oil
2 tsp. pure vanilla
2 cups unpeeled chopped apples
Preheat oven to 350.
In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, pumpkin, oil, and vanilla. Add to dry ingredients and mix well. Stir in apples. (You can also add some chopped nuts but I don't usually like the way nuts taste in quick-breads--gummy.)
Spoon batter into paper-lined or greased muffin tins, filling about 3/4 full. Bake about 22-25 minutes, depending on your oven. Remove from pan and cool on a rack.
I'm a guest writer this week at Living Sexuality, a fantastic sex, health, and relationship blog, for Becky Knight's series on all things menstruation Period Pieces.
Guess I've never gotten that sort of personal with you guys before. If fact, I've never written anywhere about something quite this intimate and though I'm pretty sure you'll be able to tell, at the same time it's started me thinking about a lot more things specific to my experiences as a girl and now woman--all the things I still need to uncover and tell. All the things I want to do differently with my own girls.
So please excuse the rough-ness of it. It's just a beginning.
But off you go. And then keep checking back for everything that's posted this week, leave some of your thoughts in the comments, and stick around and see what Becky decides to share next.
Posted by Annagrace at 12:55 AM
We are having the best end of summer weather...hot days, chilly nights (as Pea says), and the kind of low-running breezes that stir up grass clippings, pine needles, and early-falling leaves.
The mornings are full of neighbors working in their gardens and joyously walking their dogs and tiny, stroller-bound children. The afternoons bring Crayola school buses, newly-sprung big kids looking for leaves to scuff as they drag backpacks home, play times at the favorite parks with friends, and then quiet hours when the girls nap and I begin dinner or dig into one of the many books I'm reading. Then it's evening and Daddoo, and four people trying to talk (or scream) at once, the eating of and cleaning up of dinner and Birdie demanding the same utensils as everyone else, then playtime, maybe bathtime, Daddoo time, books, teeth brushed, faces and hands (and sometimes feet) washed, and bedtime for little girls.
The nights sound like wind chimes and neighbors closing garage doors, the jingling of leashes and soft thud of sneakers for last walks, a far-away plane. Then all the people noises cease and suddenly all you can hear, through all the open windows all over the house, is the whoosh of wind high up in the old fir trees, and then the tidal sound of it through the 40-yr old maples and all the silver-leaved things standing crookedly along the back rise... And the trains. Oh, how I love the night trains.
It's all so beautiful.
And I'm so happy. In so many ways. For so many reasons.
Things are still in process. Life is still happening. The details are far from perfect. Much leaves me shaking in my boots from fear and general anxiety. There are many more battles to fight. I am daily aware of my shortcomings and failures.
But you know what? I'm happy. I feel deeply at peace with the way things are and (most of the time) I find it easy enough to ignore the anxious thoughts and what-if's and all that remains to be seen and just... I don't know, just... be.
I'm learning what everyone truly wise seems to understand, lessons that are new to me.
That everything strong is weathered--has weathered something fierce and over and over again.
That everything true has been proven, and proven in hardship.
That marriages are not made in agreeable happiness but are made truly agreeable and happy by walking through dark, soul-aching days and nights. Together.
That the most beautiful and precious relationships in life are worth every single minute of fighting and loving and listening and trying and yelling and redrawing and dreaming and re-dreaming and changing and laughing. And that I'll take my passionate, often-opinionated attempts at graceful relationship ANY day over the bland tales I hear of marriages where no one fights and everything is perfect all the time and nothing is ever the matter and both partners are SO damn perfect for each other. "Perfect" marriages collapse daily because shit really does (eventually) happen.
Here's to happiness.
Here's to beautiful re-fashionings.
Here's to love in all its starkness and 3 o'clock in the morning-ness.
Here's to six years married and a whole lifetime yet to be lived. Together.
(photos taken at friend's wedding this last weekend. Pea had a great time, though you can't exactly tell here...)
Simple end-of-summer food is what I'm loving and craving and cooking right now. I'm almost ready for things to start smelling and tasting of fall (crisp-roasted veggies, velvety soups, pumpkin everything) but still there are barbecues and garden veggies everywhere and picnics and potlucks and I needed a quick potato salad I could assemble from items I normally have in the fridge and then take everywhere or anywhere. Proudly.
The recipe is my own but it's far from original. Remember how I hate exacting measurements and detailed instructions? There will be none of that.
See? Simple. So simple. But really good. And no mayonnaise or eggs or anything you might be opposed to. If you're opposed to basil I don't even know what to do with you.
Simple Summer Potato Salad
Fingerling potatoes, as many as you want to eat/make. I like a multi-colored assortment for this as it's especially nice to look at.
Slice in half lengthwise and boil in salted water till a little past soft. I abhor boiled potatoes being too firm or solid. They should start tasting a little mashy...yum.
Drain and cool a bit. Then toss in a big, pretty bowl with olive oil, sea salt, freshly-cracked black pepper, fresh basil, and lots of Parmesan cheese.
Now. Wasn't that easy?
I'm thinking a side of roasted tomatoes and grilled fish. Or a good juicy steak and sweet, end-of-summer corn. Or by itself in a big bowl with a glass of red wine.
September weddings. Seeing and hearing two people promise their lives to each other and remembering a similarly warm September evening when Jeffrey and I did the same. Drinking in the beauty and flowers and people and gorgeous location and laughter and dancing and...still feeling glad that we're here, six years farther down, than at the heady, dreamy beginning. Last year we took a tiny baby Birdie to another beautiful September wedding...she was tiny and so very fussy but it's another evening I'll always remember. Lovely, all of it.
Penelope dancing with all the grown-ups. With her raggedy stuffed cat. Adeleine inhaling cupcakes. Penelope in awe of the "married dress". Adeleine pouring punch down her jumper.
Watching Penelope interact with adults (almost) at their level. Noticing the adult tone she takes on with women she adores and women who treat her intelligently. Feeling amazed at how lucky she is and grateful that she already has her own tribe.
Leaving the second event of the weekend where I was completely blown away by the way my girls behaved in public. I mean, they are most certainly children and usually behave along the lines of every other bored-out-of-their skull toddler you see in Target, but first at breakfast and then at a (long, nap time/dinner time) wedding they were amazing. Normal for their age but...amazing. I had tears in my eyes when I belted them into their car seats. The whole weekend was a lot to ask of any kid and mine have been in Whining Screamville for so long that I forgot who else they often are: kind, polite, patient, observant, funny.
Making a list of people I wish to know forever. Thinking that if I never again met anyone new I would probably still be just fine.
Posted by Annagrace at 12:00 AM