Tuesday, February 19, 2013

bone pile

When I was a backcountry ranger, I sometimes fought forest fires.  And usually--because I refused to travel too far from my dog--I was dispatched to some pretty small, local fires.  We'd dig a line around the fire, call it contained, then controlled, then we'd scrape up the last remaining logs into a pile.  We called it the bone pile.  After all was said and done, this was the pile that continued to burn.  Those big ol' logs had a lot of rings and a lot left to say.  We stood around this pile, like a campfire, eating MREs, swapping "jalapeno-cheese-spread" for "chocolate-pound-cake" (which, really, was more like a dried up hockey puck), and told stories.
As usual, life around here is full and fast.  We had a horse-filled weekend which I cannot wait to blog about, but first!  There is so much in the backlog and when this many days pass without a post, it comes down to the bones.  So here you are, from the last couple of weeks, this is what continues to burn.  My bone pile:  

:: Hazel's favorite face.

:: She's been signing "more" for a while and now uses it for books, toys, you name it.  (Also--no photos yet--but this girl has entered the baby-doll-loving stage.  I could write a whole post on the baby-doll-loving stage.  Maybe I will.  Soon-ish.)

:: Witnessing the love and protection blossoming between these two.  Sisters.
(We are getting to that point where my kids shut themselves inside Juniper's room and I hear playful noises.  I don't worry until I hear crying or too much silence.  Today I was making lunch, heard the silence, and peeked in to check.  Hazel was standing on the rocking chair with her buck-toothy grin and Juniper was jumping up and down, excited, saying, "We're playing gremlins in here!  I'm the grandma and Hazel's the gremlin.")

:: Hazel's buck-toothy grin.

:: Hoar frost.

:: What I do after kids go to bed.  She loves tracing letters first thing in the morn.

:: What our kitchen island/ life looks like most of the time, with seasonal variation.

:: Juniper loving preschool.

:: Hazel's somewhat concerning coffee mug obsession.  (Actually, I think she'd prefer the coffee, but we're not going there.)

:: Our family's whim to up and go on a "spring hike."  On a ski trail.  Temps in the 20's.

:: Our adorable little elfkin and the number of times in a day we stand in front of her, dreamily trying to soak it all in, saying, Damn, isn't she cute?  Isn't she though?   

:: A lunchtime favorite: *hot pink* mac-n-cheese (with beet puree).

:: Those one-step-forward-two-steps-back days.

:: Confusing "bath crayons" with regular crayons.

:: Helping herself to kitchen island items.  (Garlic stem and clementine "birthday cupcake.")
          Me:  "Juniper, did you peel that orange yourself?
          Juniper:  "Yeah."
          Me:  "Where did you put the peels?"
          Juniper:  "I put them on the floor and Hazel eat them."

:: Getting Hazel out of the backpack.

:: Discovering the steep, slick sled hill behind our house.

(Yes, I need to ask him to wear a different jacket when I'm wearing my new christmas gift.  We just don't think about the fact that we may take some photos, and that I may post those photos to a world audience.  Who knows, perhaps matchy-matchy couples are hip somewhere.)

:: The bear den.  Grrrrr.  
::        The Dad, waxing nostalgic:  "She's so long and skinny.  How did that happen?"
          Juniper, looking at her body:  "I'm so skinny!  Oh no!  Where'd all my skin go?"

:: Getting closer.  

Saturday, February 9, 2013

better than chicken noodle

It seems like everyone I know is either just getting it, just getting over it, or right smack in the middle of it.  Cold, stomach flu, strep, croup, you name it.  We had it last week and are mostly over it, except Hazel who just takes everything so much harder than the rest of our family.  She continues to have bouts of coughing and puking between the hours of 1:00am and 3:00am.  She is only puking because she coughs so hard.  It is heartbreaking and our bed smells like sour milk.  Anyway.
My man has taken over most of the asian-style cooking in our home and he found a recipe that is like a fairy godmother when you're under the weather.  This is a Thai chicken and rice soup and it is so loaded with garlic and ginger it blows chicken noodle out of the water (or in this case, the soup bowl).  The trick lies in waiting until serving to combine most of the ingredients.  No home should be without this recipe.  
Sizzling garlic in oil.

Adapted from Quick and Easy Thai:

Kao Tome Gai (rice soup with chicken, cilantro and crispy garlic):

2 cups dry brown rice (measure, then cook)
1/2 pound diced chicken breast (or other meat--we'll try wild turkey next)
4 tablespoons coarsely chopped garlic (or 4 very large cloves)
1/3 cup oil (we use olive oil, but veggie oil would probs be more authentic)
6-8 cups soup stock (depending on how brothy you like your soups)
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
6 green onions thinly sliced
handful of fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
ground black pepper (optional)

*While rice is cooking, heat oil and garlic until garlic just begins to get gold and crispy; pour into heatproof container and set aside.
*Bring soup stock to a boil over medium-high, add pre-cooked rice, return to boil, add chicken and fish sauce, simmer 3-4 minutes or until meat is cooked.
*Ladle hot soup into serving bowls, top with oil and garlic mixture, ginger, green onions, cilantro and black pepper.  Just before serving, stir well.

YUM!  This will hit the spot.  
^If there is one art I am quite bad at, it's the art of photographing food.  Sorry about that.^      

^What your kids will do after eating Kao Tome Gai.^

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

us, outside

I love winter.  I've loved winter ever since I first moved to a place that had winter.  I had graduated from college, backpacked all summer, hummed and hawed about what-to-do-next, hung around long enough to take the GRE, then packed a set of skis, a stray cat, a few bags, and split to Wyoming.  I lived in my step-dad's rustic, remote cabin in the least populated county of the least populated state in the nation.  I learned to cross-country ski because the cabin was 5 miles from the nearest plowed road and the snowmobile was old and always broken.  I melted snow on a woodstove for dishes, showers and toilet flushes.  Sometimes, I'd pack a bag with nuts and dried fruit, a bivuac sack and a sleeping bag, slap on some snowshoes and return a couple of days later.  I loved winter.
I loved knitting beside a crackling fire, sipping whiskey-laced hot cocoa.  I loved reading with my feet propped fireside while blizzard winds rattled the windows.  I loved winter.  
And I've loved winter ever since, often judging a place by its snowpack.  Having Juniper changed things, but just a little.  A little less skiing, no overnights, very little ice-fishing.  But...I still loved winter.

Last year, though, oh my.  I tried to love winter, but I had this little 12 pound human strapped to my chest who hated sun, wind, snow, cold; plus a toddler who hated both her mittens and having cold hands--not to mention the struggle it was just to get a pair of pants on, let alone snow pants.  Last year, it was hard to see any green at the end of the tunnel.  Winter seemed like an impossible place for children.  Why are we doing this?  I'd bark at my husband, We should move to Hawaii.

One year later, things have changed.  The shift is huge.  Winter is this great, blank canvas.  Our yard, our neighborhood, our playgrounds, our lives, are transformed.  It's as though we live in two different places and we didn't even have to travel.  We have a house with a chimney!  We have mini-mountains in our backyard!  We have a bear den!  We have snow-girls!  We can make angels!  And ice-wreaths!  We have icicle lollipops!  Snowball fights!  We sled, we slide, we romp, we wallow!

And just like that, winter is this whole new thing I'm looking forward to sharing with my kids.  Skiing!  Snowshoeing!  Igloos!  Snow-caves!  Snow-angles!  Ice-candles!  Ice-carving!  Ice-skating!  "Painting" snow with food coloring in squirt bottles!  Oh my!  Playing outside today Juniper said, "We'd better go inside, it's getting too hot out here."  (Granted, for us it was hot--40 degrees.)  We just needed another year under our belts.  And while I *knew* that last year, I just couldn't see it.  Also, mittens that toddlers can't pull off themselves, don't fall off, and don't collect snow in the cuffs (I so remember that as a kid) really help.
These photos were taken over the last few weeks.  Some days, it was just below zero, other days, a balmy 30 degrees.  Us, outside:
^Juniper's "house" and getting ready to "slide down the chimney."^
^Making an ice-wreath.^
^A cold day.  Cold enough for bike tires to stick.^
^Post-ski sister love.  Lots of sister love going around these days.^
^Snow-girls get hugs too.^  
^Backyard campfires, roasting marshmallows in the snow.  Very popular.^