Archives for category: Joe & Rachael Projects

Erstwhile Dear has bought a domain name, taken a photo and moved to new lands!

http://erstwhiledear.com/

Soon there will be a new pervasive standard for web coding in which elegance and clarity is prized beyond all else. Dancing web ads, auto-play videos, and tiny text will be severely frowned upon.

I forgot to tell you the one thing I actually wanted to share about Lux’s party: our invitation. Joe designed it so that when you opened the email your eyes alighted upon this:

We were inspired by this wedding invitation, which we saw on the wall at a friend’s cottage two years ago:

it is magnificent, no? The garish year was editorialized in later, of course.

The weather folks said it was going to be 91 degrees that Saturday morning. I had visions of our guests sipping coffee and sweating, while humidity swirled around. Fortunately that dismal scene did not happen. At 10am it was very windy and slightly cloudy, which made perfect cozy breakfast party weather.

menu:

+ granola with steel cut oats, dried apricots and lots of seeds. yogurt (Brown Cow), raspberries, and blueberries.

+ three frittate: kale, swiss chard, new potatoes.

+ maple blueberry muffins.  One baker friend brought apricot and sage scones, and one thoughtful friend brought Flour treats. Flour treats are the best hostess gift of all time.

+ bacon doused in maple syrup, baked, and cut into triangles.

+ two containers of coffee from Starbucks.

The great thing about this menu was the leftovers were easily incorporated into our week. (people never eat as much at parties as you expect, right??) Lux loved the frittate which is a discovery for me because they have more chopped greens packed per square inch than anything else I make.

Everyone showed up at different times via bikes or just finishing up a morning walk. Lots of the girls wore dresses; I love it when that happens. Strangers walked by with bemused smiles, eyeing the bundle of balloons blowing in the wind and the giddy babies chasing their toys.

I met Ellie and Lena at the library when the girls were five months old. Our babies were rather immovable and barely participated in the playtime, but we noticed they were around the same age and quickly struck up conversation. We survived the winter by getting together every week. Friends like them were so important to my first year as a mom, and I’m so grateful for their companionship.

And of course we all had that moment. That moment of “why don’t we do this more often?” When you realize all it took was the promise of coffee and a few blankets to get people to the park. When you look around and see other families having parties too, and realize, “this is what the park is for!” I hope we do it again this summer, but for now a baby’s birthday was the excuse we needed.

There have been at least twenty discussions about birthday parties around here lately.

Here’s a few of the themes we circle around:

Is it weird to call it a birthday party if Lux will have no awareness that the party is for her?

How much alcohol can you have at a party that’s technically for children?

How do we emphasize that we are actually celebrating the crazy year we just had?

Obviously we can’t not memorialize this enormous life change we just went through, right?

Finally, bored out of our minds with this all this adult talk, we decided we wanted it to be on the Esplanade, the lovely park that coils along the Charles River and is full of playgrounds, benches, clean sidewalks, and beautiful trees. So Saturday morning we went location scouting and visited our favorite nooks, to see how they would do under party scrutiny.

The bridge over to the Esplanade is just up the street from us. You cross over four lanes of traffic, and can smirk with pedestrian swagger as you cross. Or you can focus on how the bridge is climbing up into the trees before it swoops you back down to earth among the sailboats.

Lux particularly liked this spot for duck watching and practicing her sideways bench walk:

We settled on this little triangle of grass:

a small pond on one side:

and shady trees all around!

Now that I’ve started thinking about children’s parties, I’m remembering all fantastic things kids get to count on: cake! scoops of ice cream! goody bags! random streamers everywhere, bringing a gift for your friend that you hope they love, musical chairs, and eating too much candy. This is one of those scenarios where kids really get the good stuff, right?

Have you heard of Skillshare.com? It’s a super website operating with the goal of encouraging everyone to teach anyone about anything. It’s well designed, in all sorts of cities, and is connecting passionate folks to curious topics all the time.

I love this idea. I frequently find myself hunting for people’s secret passions and expertise in conversation, but it can take forever to discover, even from your good friends! However when skillshare finally came to Boston, I was a little disappointed that none of the classes interested me. What could I teach and be excited about?, I asked myself.

and I realized: all the little lists of things I’d wished I known before Lux came, the discoveries I made in the first few months, the many tips I’ve learned from my fellow moms, the useless baby stuff I gave away, the I-wished-I-woulda’s….that could be a class!

And so:

A one night workshop for expecting moms in Boston! Obviously I’m a little nervous about it, but I’m also excited! I would have loved something like this when I was pregnant, it will be a good way for expecting moms to meet each other (which is so important!), and (inspired by the methodology of the fabulous blogshop) I will have yummy snacks and delicious mocktails to make the class even more festive. If it’s as fun as I hope it will be, I’ll do another!

Can I ask you a Twitter favor, dear readers? Would you minding tweeting about it (link: http://skl.sh/JP6pUr) even if you’re not in Boston? I have my postcards to pin around the neighborhood, the strangers I will ask to retweet, and other news-spreading ideas, but I’m firm believer in the serendipitous power of Twitter. I’d be so grateful!

And what about you? What topic do you love to talk about with interested listeners? What would you like to talk a class in? If Skillshare isn’t in your city, you can still sign up and suggest your city next!

Dear readers! Before the baby gets here and trashes the place, I would love to show a few photos of where she’ll stay.

The nursery wall, as we call it.

The rocker was my modernist-loving grandmother’s, and the crib (former laundry basket) is a makeover story done by Joe (he posted a few before photos). I love the mobile, it was the first nursery item we were given, and for most of the winter it hung in our living room as a promise that we would someday have a place for it. We’re planning to hook up an ipod to the radio with white noise tracks so it can double as a sound machine, along with playing NPR for me.

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen when I posted a photo of Joe finding the globe in the trash near our apartment. It works perfectly as a soft ocean-and-continent-glow nightlight. It’s a still mystery why it was in the trash as no deadly spider babies have yet emerged from it.

In our apartment storage is an enormous challenge, so we definitely needed a new place to put her clothes. We bought the two pieces of furniture at an antique warehouse in southern MA. Joe repainted the cabinet when we were in Maine, and the knobs on the changing table are from Anthropologie. Those orange bins will be all cloth diapers, since I finally found someone in Boston who does diaper deliveries.

This Kurt Vonnegut quote (from A Man Without a Country) is a good one for us. We’re always noticing after the fact how nice something was, and never quite settling down in the moment. We used this sign and the “crib” in the market last year, so it feels like we brought a little bit of our past adventures along with us.

We changed up the artwork in the rest of the bedroom as well, and I love this old schoolhouse map for its pinks, oranges and blues. It’s so cheerful (and historically educational, since most of the facts are wrong now).

Looking over at this wall, for me, is like sitting before a grotto of flickering candles. The fact that we finally appear to be physically ready to welcome her, and she will have place to fall asleep, and a place to put her clothes, is incredibly soothing. Possibly the most soothing thought I have ever encountered. I try to fall asleep facing that wall.

Sometimes living in the city can feel like an impossible task.

your car gets towed if you forget to move it on the right day, which is never the day you thought it was.

you’re certain your neighbors see you making oatmeal in your underwear, a lot. Probably more than they’d prefer.

the guys from the restaurant out back gather to smoke pot together and murmor below your window, every single afternoon.

the mice were told the kitchen was available for cohabitation, and signed a lease.

But of course there are reasons we stay. And on top of those, when you overcome a limitation–like, say, no green space to plant in–and contrive a little spot for some hardy basil to give it a go, it really feels like a victory.

I hope these little plants know what they’re in for.

 

 

The Farmers Markets of Boston have begun! I’m always forgetting which ones are on what day (checking this site again and again), so I asked Joe to make me a graphic for the fridge.

I thought I would share it here too in case you want it too! It’s sized to fit an index card.

Because I’m downtown, this doesn’t list some of the Cambridge markets (like Harvard).

20110519-083617.jpg

Posting from the iPhone using the new WordPress app! Fast! Fun! No control over photo size! (bookmark-as-business card project)

Joe made this design over the weekend and submitted it to Threadless. I proposed the idea of an altered plaid pattern and Joe scurried away and came back with this remarkable thing. My favorite part might be the wood floor backdrop. You can give it a thumbs up (do!) right here. (actually you can vote 0-5, but I think we know what score a thumbs up equals, right?)

Tomorrow I’ll post a few pictures of our tour of America’s Test Kitchen. We sat on set and watched the filming of a couple shows, got to try the result (chocolate pudding), and browsed their amazing cookbook library.

Recipes go into the Test Kitchen (which publishes Cook’s Illustrated) and reappear as runway models of their former selves. Inefficiencies, widely accepted rumors of what works, weird unnecessary steps, and disproportionate ingredients are trimmed, firmly reprimanded, frisked, or tugged into place.

Their recipe for chocolate chip cookies is full of just these alterations, challenging everyone’s favorite back o’ the box recipe by Toll House. Lighter on the flour, more and darker brown sugar, higher oven temperature, one less egg white…everything focused with undivided attention upon creating the chewiest cookie possible, with flavors of toffee, butterscotch, and serious butter love hiding inside.

The result speaks for itself. In your mouth. While you debate eating three in a row.

You can get their detailed recipe to add to your repertoire (do) right here, and here’s a visual guide to the key elements.

This post is my entry into Cook’s Illustrated delightful blogging contest. Read more about it right here, and see the other contestants here, here, here.
UPDATE: E&D won! Joe and I get to visit the Test Kitchen next week! You can see the top finalists here, I love the judges’ comments. In true Test Kitchen fashion, they took the contest seriously and gave great commentary on what they liked. So fun to participate with all the other bloggers. Read about our visit to the Test Kitchen right here!

Sorry guys. I’ve been missing this place.

I went home for a baby shower. Joe and I made a little mix cd to give as a tiny thank you to all the amazing women who gave us gifts, many of them obviously handcrafted with love. It was supposed to be Springy, and Agreeable, so that even my grandmothers would like it. You can listen to it too, right here. (the mix I lined-up to play right after our mix is really good too–French and sexy.)

Want a close-up of that little painting Joe made for the cd cover? I know I do:

My only selfish request for the shower brunch was that there be cinnamon rolls. My mom makes the recipe that was copied off of Cinnabon, as in the all rights reserved Cinnabon, the one you hope is in the airport so you can sneak off and get a small box of chewy frosted dough.

Is there anything quite like seeing a dozen adults queue up to buy themselves cinnamon rolls?

a sample gift:

What else?

I made this easy quinoa tabbouleh and thought about how healthy and worthy I was, eating quinoa and even pronouncing it properly under my breath. (instead of “keen-wa,” there used to be days when I said “qui-noAH.” Whatever. The point is, it has a lot of amino acids.)

I watched the first episode of “Dresscue Me.” You can download it, free, from iTunes. Joe was almost too stressed out by the estrogen-energy to watch; which I say as a warning before you get the whole family in front of the television.

I read a bunch of great books. The last three on that list were particularly fun to read. If you need a little great writing in your life, a little reminder of how immediately enticing a story can be, get The Imperfectionists from the library. I almost read it twice, just to make it last longer.

Don’t forget about this almond pastry Easter recipe I wrote about last year.

Just because I wasn’t around here doesn’t mean I wasn’t reading your lovely blog posts, and funny tweets, missing your thoughtful company, and clicking your delightful links. I was.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 35 other followers