Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Emerson - Big Kid or Baby?

A little blurry, but what a cutey!

Emerson was just SO cute this weekend and I got some of it on video.

Here he says what Jill claims to be "the cutest thing, ever": "I do, I do, I do" and argues with me about whether he's a big kid or a baby.

When I ask him how old he is he says "ME!" which is what he usually says when you ask what his name is (short for Emmy). Then he figures out the question and answers with a little hesitation: "Two?" and then gives me the secret hand signs for "two".

Here Emmy fills in the words to a favorite song:

Here is a photo I'll have to keep and bring out later in life: Yes, those are Cars underoos.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Best Stir Fry Ever!

Something I've been struggling with since I've been living in Princeton is eating good dinners. I really enjoy cooking, and god knows I love eating, but I enjoy these activities so much more when I share them with other people. So, here I am sharing it with you, dear readers:
I just made the BEST STIR-FRY EVER!
Here's what I did: I heated some oil in a pan, added garlic, ginger and shiitake mushrooms. Let that go for a minute, then added all of the following: baby bok choy, asparagus, green beans, broccoli, carrots, red peppers and just a little bit of salt. I let that go for about 4 minutes, stirring it all around and then I turned off the heat and added some soy sauce and the rice that had just conveniently finished cooking. Once everything was in the pan, I shook just a little bit of dark sesame oil on top. Mmmmm.... It really hit the spot.

Here's a shot of it in the pan before I added the rice:

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Vampire Weekend at the Wellmont

Last night I had a fun time going into Montclair, not to see family, but to see a band called Vampire Weekend. It was quite a fun show. I felt like these guys were living out every college band's total rock 'n' roll dream with a huge banner with the band name, the drum kit up on a pedestal, smoke machines, fancy lighting and screaming fans. You really couldn't ask for more than that.

I like this photo for two reasons, 1) I took if from my seat in the balcony! I love the zoom on my camera. And 2) I love that you can see people taking photos at the bottom.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Nathaniel the Yellow Belt

My weekend started out with a trip up to Montclair to see Nathaniel test for his Yellow Belt in Taekwondo. He's only been taking classes for a couple months, but he really likes it. The video is of him breaking a board. I was very impressed.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Happy Birthday, Grammy!

My Grammy is staying with my parents, hopefully through Christmas, and one of the best parts about this is that we get to celebrate her birthday, and she gets to help celebrate some of my nephew's birthdays, too. Today is her 91st birthday! I didn't get to see her today, but we're planning on getting together on Saturday to celebrate Grammy and Emerson's birthdays on one day. I think it's so cool that the oldest and youngest members of our family have birthdays that are only 2 days apart. There is an 89 year gap between them.

Four out of the 6 people in the above photo have birthdays in December. Grammy is Dec. 4th, Emerson is Dec. 6th, Nathaniel is Dec. 9th and Liam is December 20th (Sebastian is in February and John is in May).

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Great Losses of 2008

This year the world has lost 3 people who I believe to be American national treasures. The first was Utah Phillips, an amazing songwriter, storyteller and hobo who I wrote about back in May. Seeing him perform live was always a treat.

Then on Halloween, Studs Terkel passed away at the age of 96. I was driving up to John and Jill's when Kim texted me with the news. I have to say, I started crying while I was driving. I knew this was going to happen sooner or later, but I was (am) such a fan of his writing and humor. And I feel like there really isn't anyone stepping into his shoes as far as being a listener to common folks.

I saw him give a reading at Women and Children First in his home-town of Chicago and was just so impressed at his humor, his wit and the sense that he was just a regular guy with a good heart. I've been enjoying going back to some of his writing and look forward to doing more in 2009.

And most recently, of course, the death of Odetta. If you have a chance to watch this video from the NY Times, I highly recommend it. It makes you realize how many songs you know because of her, even if you never realized it was her. I think what made me most sad about this news is that she was hoping to sing at the Obama inauguration. It would have been so cool to have the same woman who sang at the March on Washington sing again in that city to honor our first black president.

All of these are great losses to the story of America. Each of them held a piece of history in their own way, and they will all be missed.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thanksgiving with Family, and lots of it!

On Thanksgiving day I drove down to my parent's house and had a great little Thanksgiving dinner with my parents and my Grammy. It was just the four of us, but we had everything to make it a traditional Thanksgiving dinner: Turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, stuffing, cranberry sauce, good bread and I made Winter White Puree. It was a relaxing dinner with good conversation. We somehow got talking about short-lived jobs that we've had and I found out that my Grammy had a job scooping ice cream at the community pool when she was younger, but they only let her do it for one day because she made the scoops too big! After dinner we had pie with generous helpings of whipped cream. It was a great evening.

The next day John, Jill, Nathaniel, Sebastian and Emerson came before lunch and Maureen, John and Liam came shortly after them. Once they were there, the doorbell rang and we weren't expecting anyone else (Dan had to work and couldn't join us). But we opened the door and sure enough - It was DAN! He walked in with his camera and totally surprised everyone, especially my mom. She teared up and was just so happy to have the whole family in one place. Unfortunately, we couldn't get a photo of everyone, but here's one that was taken while Jill and Mo had the cameras. That's John, Mom, Dan, me and Dad in the back, (little) John and Nathaniel standing in front of us, and Sebastian, Grammy, Emerson and Liam on the bench.

Here's a fun photo of me with all of my nephews. It was SO fun to have them all in one place.

It's tough for our family to get together and not start playing some sort of board game. And my parents are great at keeping around their old games. They have a Clue board from the mid-70s, Scrabble from god knows when and this amazing 40-year-old Yahtzee set. This cup is actually felt-lined so that it's not as noisy as the plastic cups they give you now. Pretty amazing.

Everyone has fun playing Yahtzee! Especially me. Here I am demonstrating how you have to hold the cup on both ends because the bottom falls out of the old cup.

Emerson is doing a good job of picking up on the family tradition:

The other game that was played this weekend was Wii! My dad got one for his birthday about a month ago and the older boys really loved it. And by "older boys", I mean my brothers and dad, too. Mom, Jill, Mo and I got to play a little bit, but the guys spent a lot more time on it than we did. John and Nathaniel really got into it, it was hard to tear them away:

It was such a great day and so fun to have everyone in one place. Hopefully it will happen again, sooner rather than later. I certainly have a lot to be thankful for.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving with a Friend

On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving I took the train into NYC to see my friend Jay's gig with One Sweet World. I haven't seen him play in a long time and it was fun to be "with the band". When I got there I actually got to cut in front of people waiting outside because I was on the guestlist. It was pretty funny. The show was great and afterward we drove back to Princeton and crashed at my place.

On Thanksgiving morning Jay slept in while I watched the Macy's Day Parade and then we made a wonderful brunch of rosemary garlic home fries (inspired by M. Henry in Chicago), and fried egg sandwiches on rosemary batard from Witherspoon Bread Company, that and some juice and tea made for a wonderful start to a great day. We both wore aprons while we cooked, here is Jay helping with the potatoes:

And here's a shot of our delicious brunch.

It was so fun to have someone at my house and I always enjoy cooking more when I have someone to share it with. After breakfast Jay headed up to Ithaca to enjoy Thanksgiving with his family, and I headed to my parent's to start our family extravaganza. It was a great way to start the holiday.