Friday, January 31, 2014

What's for dinner and Vivian strikes again.


Determined not to let January 2014 come and go without one post from me!


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In the most recent issue of Bon Appetit I saw a picture and recipe for Winter Squash Carbonara with Pancetta and Sage that looked really good. I decided to try it last Friday night as it was classified as a "quick and easy weeknight meal." The dish was quite tasty, but at my house it was definitely not quick, mostly because of the prep time involved (where is that sous chef when I need him?). Next time I would buy pre-cut butternut squash (Central Market sometimes has this in their produce section) or chop the squash in advance. Perhaps next time I might be more adept at peeling and chopping butternut squash, too, and hasten things along that way.

Winter Squash Carbonara with Pancetta and Sage

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces pancetta, chopped (I used the thick-sliced applewood bacon from the Central Market butcher because I think it is fabulous)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
1 2-pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into ½" pieces (about 3 cups)
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
12 ounces linguine
¼ cup finely grated Pecorino cheese, plus shaved for serving

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pancetta, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 8–10 minutes. Add sage and toss to coat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pancetta and sage to a small bowl; set aside.

Add squash, onion, and garlic to skillet; season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, 8–10 minutes. Add broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until squash is soft and liquid is reduced by half, 15–20 minutes. Let cool slightly, then purée in a blender until smooth (I used my immersion blender but had to transfer the squash to a deeper pot to do so); season with salt and pepper. Reserve skillet.

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.

Combine pasta, squash purée, and ¼ cup pasta cooking liquid in reserved skillet and cook over medium heat, tossing and adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta, about 2 minutes. Mix in ¼ cup Pecorino; season with salt and pepper.

Serve pasta topped with reserved pancetta and sage, shaved Pecorino, and more pepper.

Note: Squash purée can be made 3 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill.

This salad is from Cooking Light. It is quite tasty. This time I used a mix of baby arugula and baby spinach.

Arugula and Celery Salad with Lemon-Anchovy Dressing

6 cups baby arugula leaves
1/2 cup diagonally cut celery
1/4 cup almonds, toasted and chopped
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves (I omitted these because I'm not a huge parsley fan and there is already some in the dressing)
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup (1 ounce) shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Dressing:
2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 garlic cloves
1 canned anchovy fillet, rinsed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Combine first 7 ingredients in a blender; process until smooth. With blender on, slowly add oil. Process until blended.

***

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The other day Vivian walked up to me and I noticed that the screen on her iPod Touch was completely shattered. I exclaimed, "Vivian! What happened to your phone?!" She replied, in that way that only Vivian can, "It broke."

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Friday, December 20, 2013

Vivian and the Rudolph show.


Vivian loves Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.  Not just at Christmas, but all year 'round.  She has several Rudolph t-shirts and books, and she frequently watches the Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer movie on her iPod.

Lo and behold, this year Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer: the Musical came to Dallas.  Vivian's teacher, Mrs. Kemp, and her speech therapist, Melinda, took Vivian and her friend Will to see the show.  They reported that Vivian loved it.  From the looks of these pictures, I'd say she did!








After the show Vivian was able to interact with some of the cast members

Friday, September 27, 2013

A couple of funny Vivian stories.

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Vivian at a recent pep rally (which she calls a "pepperoli")

Last week Vivian's teacher let me know that Vivian had refused to do her work one day but had instead fallen to the floor and pitched a fit. When Vivian got home from school, I said to her sternly, "Vivian, Mommy is VERY sad when you don't do your work." She looked at me and replied, "Vivian is happy."

***

Yesterday Vivian's school had a fire drill. Vivian's teacher knew the alarm would sound soon, and she realized with some concern that Vivian was deeply involved in working one of her favorite puzzles. Her teacher worried that Vivian would not want to leave the puzzle to go outside for the drill and might put up a fuss. When the fire alarm went off, however, Vivian jumped up from her chair, began waving her arms and moving quickly to door while yelling, "We have to get out of the building!"

Such a funny girl.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Sweet Sixteen!

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Today my sweet Dots is turning sixteen. So far her birthday has been much sweeter than Vivian's sixteenth, thank goodness!

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Dots had to be at school at 6:20 for Cross Country practice so she only opened one present this morning

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She requested Chick-Fil-A for her lunch table so I bought that and carried it up to them around noon. Tonight Robert and I are taking Dots and four friends to her favorite restaurant

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I posted this picture on Instagram today. Dots was a funny, funny little girl. She adored this bathing suit and wore it under her clothes wherever we went for quite some time. On this particular day we were nowhere near a pool; this was just her outfit of choice!

Happy Sweet Sixteen to my sweet, beautiful girl!


Friday, August 30, 2013

Back to school 2013.

Vintage school days

My girls started school this week. College classes commenced for Will the week before; alas, I have no pictures of that to share.

Dots is a sophomore in high school. Vivian is classified as a junior, but she can stay in school until her 22nd birthday so she also has three years remaining. 2016 will be a year of big changes at our house.

Things seem to be off to a good start for the girls. Dots made the cross country team and has practice at 6:30 each morning, so she is out the door early (I can't say bright and early because it is pitch black when she leaves). Vivian has been very happy to get on the bus each day, and although there have been a few meltdowns when work or PE were involved, her teachers report that Vivian has generally been happy and cooperative.

Here's to a good year!

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Waiting for the bus. Vivian kept saying, "Where is my bus? It is time to go to school!"

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The bus is here! Vivian has been blessed to have had the same wonderful bus driver for 14 years!

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Happily aboard the bus

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Dots heads out for the first day of her sophomore year. No early morning cross country practice today!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Vivian and the magic paper machine.

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Vivian loves to color. She can spend hours entertaining herself coloring pictures. Often Vivian requests Robert or me to draw an outline for her (a happy dog, a sleepy sun, three frogs, two flowers, etc.), but she will also draw three things herself (a sun, a moon and an apple - same shape, different color).

I knew that Vivian's source of blank paper was my printer because I perpetually have an "out of paper" message on my computer screen. I assumed that Vivian opened the printer's paper drawer, took out what she needed and then closed it.

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This morning, however, I entered my office to discover a stack of 30-odd copies of a medical receipt that I had inadvertently left on my printer's copier glass yesterday. I realized that to get paper, Vivian was pushing all of the buttons on the front of my printer until a piece of paper spit out. Since the copier glass is usually empty, most of the time Vivian would be rewarded with a blank piece of paper by hitting the "copy" button. I'm guessing that yesterday she kept hitting the button hoping that the printer would eventually avail her of a blank page but had so such luck.

Today I showed Vivian where I keep a stack of blank copy paper, on a wire shelf just above the printer. I suggested that she get her coloring paper there and leave the printer alone.

This afternoon I heard the printer's motor whirring and found Vivian sitting in front of the printer randomly pushing buttons and retrieving the paper as the printer supplied it. I decided that Vivian must view the printer as her own special paper vending machine and that she prefers the cause and effect of pushing a button to receive a piece of paper over just taking blank sheets off a shelf.

Such a funny, but resourceful, girl!

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Coloring a "sleepy sun"

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Name that expression.

Vivian's teacher sent me this series of pictures the other day. She was asking Vivian to show different emotions while her teacher photographed them with an iPad. Ms. B reported that Vivian really enjoyed doing this and loved looking at the pictures afterward and naming the emotion. I wish they included sound as well because Vivian has funny little sounds she makes along with the expressions (her sad sound is a little whimper and her angry sound is a grunt of sorts).

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Angry.

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Happy.

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Sad. (You really need the sound effect to distinguish this from angry!)

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Silly. (Vivian's attempt to stick out her tongue!)

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Sweet girl (her teacher sent me this one on another day to show me a flower Vivian had picked for me).

Friday, March 22, 2013

Aloha!

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We have just returned from a wonderful week in Hawaii. My mother joined us this year which was a special treat.

Vivian has been so sweet and compliant lately, and she did really well on our trip. She loved feeding the fish in the koi ponds around our resort, and while it was never her idea to get in the water, she had fun kicking her feet and splashing Robert and me. We had one dramatic moment when Vivian fell into the pool fully dressed (and was quickly retrieved as I was standing right next to her). The incident did not faze Vivian one bit, but I had to grab every towel within reach and wrap her up quickly because she started pulling at her shirt and pants saying, "I can't swim in my clothes, I have to swim in my bathing suit." We have had countless talks on "we don't take off our clothes until we are in our room," but the concept clearly has yet to take root.

Here are a few pictures from Hawaii. I'm ready to go back!

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Shortly after our arrival. Vivian seemed pretty happy to be there but wanted no part of wearing her lei

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View from our room

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Dots brought along her hammock

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Robert and Vivi in the pool

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Two Vivians relaxing by the pool

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Vivian, Robert and me in the lazy river - Vivian is giggling because she thinks she is splashing Robert with her kicks

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Vivian going down a slide with Robert

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Robert reading a book on his iPad

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The beach

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Katie and Dots at Happy Hour

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Our dessert one night at dinner. This was incredible! It's coconut ice cream inside a chocolate shell coated in toasted coconut. It was as delicious as it was beautiful and creative

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Vivian feeding the fish

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Vivian would always say, "The fish are so happy now." I bet those fish miss Vivian!

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Teenage girls by the pool {sigh}. Dots didn't know I was taking her picture - I think she was hiding from the sun

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Heading to Lahaina

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Annual kids picture by the banyan tree


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A happy Vivian

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Strolling in Lahaina - this was a pretty quick trip as Vivian's new stroller is too big and clunky to maneuver very easily in the tiny shops. Plus Vivian's tolerance of/interest in shopping is even less than Robert's and his is pretty close to nil

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Mama's Fish House - on the north shore of Maui

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View from our table at Mama's Fish House. We ate lunch there one day

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Robert doing his best to keep Vivian entertained until our food arrived. When Vivian's lunch of baked fish, fresh fruit and rice was set in front of her, she said, "I don't like my food!" and started to push her stroller away from the table. Robert distracted her and prevented a majorly unattractive scene in an otherwise lovely restaurant, and within about 30 seconds Vivian was devouring her lunch. (Notice that Vivian is wearing a different shirt than she had on just an hour or so before in Lahaina. I found a whale t-shirt for her in a shop. I asked Vivian if she liked it, and before I even realized what was happening, she had taken off her other shirt (which I took to mean "yes"). Thank goodness there was no one else in the store!

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Sunset from the lanai off our room

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As I was enjoying a delicious lobster salad sandwich one afternoon at the Four Seasons, this egret walking on the hedge right by our table availed himself of the off-menu fresh gecko

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Vivian (wearing the whale shirt again) relaxing by the pool. She would tell me, "Make my chair a bed!" and often fell asleep

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View from my chair as I worked a crossword puzzle

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Dots and Robert in a kayak

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Looking out over the pool and beach from our hotel's restaurant

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Hawaiian sunset on our last night (photo credit to Dots)

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Meanwhile, guess who thought Gulf Shores, Alabama with college friends sounded like more fun than Hawaii with the family!