Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Tour

Welcome to our home! I really dolled it up this year since K will be visiting for the first time in three months, and also so that it looks homey and warm for potential buyers. I hope you enjoy seeing our decorations!

Every year I get the kids a new ornament. C gets Santas.

And P gets some sort of fairy.

Molly loves it when the tree goes up because she can snuggle up to the baseboard and hide out.

It has been so cold here! As it should be, of course, but this is more like January cold than December cold! I love New England and I do love the cold, except for taking the little one out in it. I have been enjoying our fireplace very much. It puts out quite a lot of heat for a fireplace that's not meant for heating, and I'm happy to go through oil a little slower than usual.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Holiday Shop Gorgeousness

Oh, this is THE most swoonwothy shop. It is, yes, my favorite store and, no, it's not Anthropologie! Gasp! This is Taken for Granite, the prettiest little store in a converted old gas station in the Stony Creek section of Branford, Connecticut. (The pink/orange granite from Stony Creek was used to build the Brooklyn Bridge.) It is on the Long Island Sound shore so there is a definite sea theme, but at Christmas the store comes alive with the most amazing glittery, sparkle-y, vintage displays. Here, just look!

And here is the centerpiece of the whole holiday display! She is maybe 8 or 9 feet tall with a wire form skirt, lit from within, and covered with magnolia leaves, frosty floral bits, and ornaments. It was so spectacular that I gasped when I walked in!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Tuna Casserole

Food. I love it. I love making it, eating, talking about it, planning the next meal as I'm still eating the current one. The women in my family love to cook, bake, and can and preserve. They have all the family recipes, all that good comfort food.

One of my favorites is tuna casserole. Now, I loved it even with the inclusion of the contents of the red and white can, but Shauna and Daniel's version has none of that! My husband hates tuna casserole. Hates. Won't eat anything with canned tuna. At all. No way. So I save making tuna casserole for when he's away. Since he's working out of state ... it's tuna time!

Yeah, those are potato chips on top, Baby!

Now that's the seal of approval! (Although you can see that he ate all around the mushrooms.) It was soooo good that C told his Daddy that he just had to try it. And he agreed that he might. I'm gonna hold him to it!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Away for the weekend

Aaaah, vacation. Well, sort of. The kids and I went to New Hampshire to visit for the last time, I hope. Not that I don't want to go back, of course. It's just that I want to move. Our family has been apart for about a month now and it's really, really tough. Going away for the weekend wasn't the least bit relaxing for me either and was tougher than usual since I didn't have my dear husband there to help. It's tough being in the inn because I feel like I'm constantly shushing the children, and I don't want to be that way. But it is a business too so they can't just run around willy-nilly! C was "on" all the time because he knew my attention wasn't all on him and P was plain ol' grumpy. She is more of a creature of home and habit than I am, so being in an unfamiliar place with lots on the agenda and lots of people was just unsettling to her. She slept terribly too, as did I. Now that we are home, we can relax! How crazy is that?!

The important thing, though, is that we spent time with friends, ate wonderful food, and got to see how beautiful New Hampshire is in the fall, one last time. While we were there I was thinking what a coincidence it was that the first time we three (we were just three then) went up to the inn seven years ago it was close to my birthday and here this time (a different three) we were there the weekend before my birthday. And so it all comes full circle -- and I hope we sell our house soon so that we can call it all complete.

I had to take a photo of this barn with Totoro, one of our favorites, painted on the door.

Mount Washington. The sign at the start of the auto road says "This is a narrow, steep, mountain road with no guardrails [eep!], so if you are afraid of heights, you might not enjoy the drive." Shoulda taken a picture of that sign. I'm not afraid of heights, but I am pretty terrified of tumbling down a mountainside with my children in a minivan, so I opted out of this adventure. I have to leave New England without one of those "This car climbed Mt. Washington" bumper stickers. I'm pretty sure it's against the law to have one of those stickers if you didn't actually make the drive. If it's not, it should be.

My dear friend Catherine, a gorgeous singer (a gorgeous singer who sings gorgeously is more accurate), flew in from Minnesota to perform a recital at the little white church in Eaton, just down the road from the inn. The church is called The Little White Church and it's easy to find because it's the little church, the white one.

The kids waiting for the music to start. I think C is telling Tim bad jokes. Again.

It's white, it's little, it's the...

And suddenly some magical creature appeared in the window! And he promised me Bailey's!

A view out the window of the church to the graveyard. I just looove a good old graveyard.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Crusty Bread That Even Those Who Eat Gluten Might Like

Bread. It's the basis of so many world cultures. It's the thing many celiacs miss the most, and it's one of the hardest thing to get right without gluten.

One of my favorite food bloggers, Shauna Ahern of The Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef, and her husband, Daniel -- The Chef, have a new cookbook out of their best gluten-free recipes. It has everything from recipes that are naturally gluten-free (chocolate mousse!) to gluten-free recreations of gluten-containing foods.

The Aherns were recently at the Hancock Shaker Village for a book signing. I've wanted to take the family there before we leave New England, so we went up on a beautiful early autumn day to meet Shauna, Daniel, and of course, little Lu.

(Sorry I kinda caught you mid-word there, Shauna!)

This is the beautiful brick house where the book discussion was. It was the home of the Shaker Brothers and Sisters.

The beautiful round, stone Shaker barn.

The intricate inner structure of the round barn.

I told Shauna that I would like to do the Julie/Julia treatment to the book (except without the Queens/Paris (sadly!) element. So here I go!

I started with the most missed, most lamented deprivation of people who are told to give up gluten: good old crusty bread. Crusty Bread That Even Those Who Eat Gluten Might Like, as a matter fact (yes, that's really the name of the recipe and it's exactly what it says it is). When I read the recipe, it reminded me of Mark Bittman's internet sensation, the No-Knead Bread, in that it has a long rising time and is baked in a blazing hot pan. But this recipe calls for much more yeast than Bittman's bread, of course, since we're not dealing with gluten here. The dough is mixed very quickly and then rises for 2 hours. It's baked for 30 minutes in a 500 degree Dutch oven.

The dough at the beginning of the rise.

After two hours.

I baked the loaf in my Le Creuset pan on parchment paper, which makes it easy to remove it from the pan. I poured a little olive oil on top and sprinkled it with some nice coarse Himalayan Red Salt.

Ahhhh, beauty..... And the smell..... Mmmmmm.....

Absolutely delicious with just butter. I love Kate's Homemade Butter with sea salt. It comes from Maine and is the nicest, most readily available, and most local butter I can get around here.

And it makes a divine tomato, basil, mozzarella sandwich! I got a super dark red heirloom tomato for this. It was soooo good!