Monday, September 22, 2014

tomato soup: a recipe

As a kid, one of my favorite lunches was tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches. Of course, it was quick and painless canned soup. There are canned soups here, possibly even Campbell's tomato, but processed food is expensive. Also, I had about 3 cups of diced tomatoes (from our tomato plants!) in the freezer. It was time to recreate my childhood lunch. I threw this soup together on a whim, without a recipe. All measurements are approximate, especially the seasonings. I just sprinkled, tasted, added more, tasted, etc, until it was enough. I added carrots for consistency because I thought the tomatoes would be runny by themselves. A lot of recipes add sugar to combat the acidity of the tomatoes, but I think the sweetness of the carrots did the job. My husband, who as rule doesn't like tomato soup, said it was good, for tomato soup. I, who love tomato soup, thought it was awesome.

3 cups diced tomatoes
2 or 3 carrots, diced
1 small to medium onion, diced
2" ginger, grated
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups bone broth
2 cups water
1/2 tsp (or more) basil
1/2 tsp (or more) oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Put tomatoes, carrots, onion, ginger, garlic, broth, and water in a big pot. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add seasonings. Simmer for another 5-10 minutes.

Remove from heat. Transfer to blender and purée.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Hair

My naturally curly hair has long been my most identifying feature. When I've been mistaken for someone else, it has never been because we have similar facial features, build, or fashion sense. It is always because of The Hair. When someone searches for me in a crowd - even my own mother - they just look for The Hair.

5th grade. The beginning of the end.

From preschool through most of elementary school, I always had fluffy, wavy hair. Sometime in 5th grade, prepubescent hormones fundamentally changed the texture. My mom and I spent the next few years grasping at straws trying to figure out how to deal with my coarse, frizzy, unruly mass of curls.

8th grade. Losing the hair battle. Bonus: me before braces.

My mom has naturally curly hair, and she tried all of her tricks to get my hair under control, to no avail. Her curls are completely different from mine. After I left for college, I experimented with my curls on my own. Finding the best way to wear my curls has been a 2 decades long project.

I've tried mousses, creams, gels, sprays, serums, oils, relaxers, every shampoo and conditioner made for curls and/or dry hair, and chemical straighteners. I've used blow dryers (with diffuser of course), curling irons, hot rollers, foam rollers, and hair straighteners. I've had my hair long, short, and in between. When ceramic hair straighteners became popular, I bought one and started straightening my hair regularly. But I realized that I prefer my hair curly. I feel more "me" when my hair is natural, and also, it takes less work! The curl isn't my enemy; it's the frizziness. (And the straightening may have tamed my hair, but it did not solve the frizz.)

My curls are somewhere between Type 3A and Type 3B, high porosity, high density, and medium width. I love the curl. The density and width serve me well. The porosity has been the root (pun intended) of all of my hair woes. So I plan my attack accordingly. I am very much loving my curls these days. Here is my current method:

    I do need a better curly hair cut.

  • Shampoo only in extreme circumstances (like if I've been swimming), and then with sulfate-free shampoo. Working conditioner through the hair and rinsing with water cleanses it sufficiently.
  • Use a thick, hydrating conditioner several times per week.
  • Don't brush or comb, just work knots out with fingers while hair has conditioner in it.
  • Squeeze water out of hair with an old t-shirt, not terry-cloth. 
  • Turn hair upside down, separate curls, scrunch a bit, spray on argan oil and leave-in conditioner.
  • Turn right-side up, part hair on opposite side (to prevent the flat-head look), smooth coconut oil through hair.
  • Let air dry partially, correct part, style now if not wearing hair down, let hair air dry the rest of the way. 
  • "Pineapple" hair to sleep.
  • Sleep on a satin pillow case.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Mamas Tell All: How to Keep Your Marriage Alive After Children [Blog linkup]

hanging out while our boys were playing with friends
There are so many lists of ways to have a strong marriage with kids. I must see one posted online every month in one parenting magazine or another. I think they take turns. "Let's see,, you publish the list January. take February. will be March..." [I'm joking.]

Clearly it's a topic that's important to a lot of families. I think in a lot of ways, marriage maintenance after having kids is a lot like marriage maintenance before having kids, in that you have to do it on purpose, you have to pay attention, you have to put forth effort. It's just that after having kids, we are totally distracted by our needy offspring. I say "I think" because our first child was born 10 months (and 1 day, if you want to be specific) after our wedding. We don't really know much about marriage without kids.

The magazine lists always include these in some way: keep dating, flirt, have sex, share kid-related tasks, and something about dads pitching in around the house. I'm going to focus on the first one because it is a particular challenge for us. Even when were "dating," it was a long-distance relationship (and for a year an extremely long-distance relationship), so we didn't go on dates much. Now we have to find a babysitter, and our kids hate babysitters, and Ben isn't used to being away from me and screams the whole time until he passes out on my pillow... We average about one real babysitter date per year right now. We find ways to date without a babysitter.

1. Post-bedtime dessert date. We wait until the boys are asleep, then sit on the couch and have dessert together in peace and quiet. Sometimes we talk about grown-up things; sometimes we are so exhausted we say nothing at all.
2. Restaurant with a playground. One of our favorite Saturday lunch spots has a playground. There are tables right next to the slide. The boys play with minimal supervision, Rodgers and I sip Malindi macchiatos, and none of us minds if it takes them too long to cook our lunch.
3. Use naptime. Our boys still nap most days. Once they're asleep, we have one-and-a-half to three hours to ourselves, to do whatever we want.
4. Lunch dates (when kids are in school). This is one I intend to implement when Ben starts school next year!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Ben 20 questions, age 3

The interview itself took place over the course of several days. He would only answer a few questions before saying, "I don't want to talk to you anymore!" My words; Ben's words.

1. What is your favorite color? orange and green
2. What is your favorite toy? Zuma. You don't have a Zuma toy. Marshall that's stuck in his truck [like this], Rubble that's stuck in his digger [like this], Chase that's stuck in his truck [like this].
3. What is your favorite fruit? apple 
4. What is your favorite tv show? Teenage Muni Turtles [that's TMNT] and Paw Patrol 
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? Well, it's pizza
6. What is your favorite outfit? Ice cream shirt [from the Blue Bell Creamery]. I can make ice cream by my own self!! And jeans.
7. What is your favorite game? My favorite game is the hotel game that we used to swim in the hotel. [He's talking about Pictureka (just the cards, not the board game), which we bought while staying in a hotel with a pool.]
8. What is your favorite snack? goldfish snack
9. What is your favorite animal? CAAATS!
10. What is your favorite song? [singing "Do Something" by Matthew West] I'm sick and tired of life with no desire. I don't want a flame. I want a fire! [but lately he's more likely to request "Low Down the Chariot" by the Gaither Vocal Band. Like father, like son.]
11. What is your favorite book? My favorite book Story! [a Toy Story 3 book]
12. Who is your best friend? Daddy and Nate and Mama and Mikey [TMNT]
13. What is your favorite cereal? Oatmeal
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? I can play in the dirt with cars
15. What is your favorite drink? My favorite drink is milk only.
16. What is your favorite holiday? A holiday from school with drinking milk. Do we have milk in this house?
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? my blankie and my animals and books and my flashlight
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? I like omelette!
19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday? pizza
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? When I'm growned up, I can wear my ice cream shirt and make ice cream!

Friday, September 12, 2014

felt TMNT masks

Last year the boys started watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It wasn't long before they chose their favorite Turtles and started acting out their favorite scenes. I made them masks out of some old jersey fabric I had. It didn't look right, but they have good imaginations.

When my parents came in January, my mom brought me some felt. The first thing I did was let the boys choose a color and make quick masks out of them. Nate had red for Raphael. There was no orange for Ben's Michelangelo, so he went with anonymous green. Of course, the felt stretched out. By now they need to be thrown away. 

For Ben's birthday, I decided to make a set of better felt masks. I didn't have all the right colors for the Turtles, but Ben said he wanted one of every color I had.

I made the pattern by trial and error: cut, hold it up to his face, cut some more, and repeat. I back-stitched around all the edges for reinforcement, hopefully preventing too much stretching. 

I also reinforced the ends before sewing the elastic on, as illustrated below (that stitching didn't show up well in the pictures). I didn't have enough elastic for all six, so the last one ended up with ribbons to tie it on instead.

Ben knows about them already because of the trials, and he's very excited to get them. He's always asking if they are ready. We'll have some friends over to celebrate and have cake on Sunday, so he will open his presents from us tomorrow!