15 March 2009

Pi(e) Day Party

Posted in events, food, T-boy at 10:55 pm by Tricia

Pie Makers

Pie Makers - Nov 2007

After I was reminded of its existence by a friend who sent along this post on “Nerdigras“, the family decided that on 3/14 at 1:59, we would host a Pi(e) Day Party. This appealed greatly to my math geek 11yo, as well as his party- and sweets-loving brothers. A party all about eating dessert? What’s not to love!

On very short notice, we invited 7 neighbor families and 9 school friend families. More than half came (about 30 people), most bearing pie (including pizza pie and a Serbian meat pie) – but I totally forgot to take pictures!

Great fun was had by all, so we might be making this an annual event! And even though we went to great effort to clean up and clear off the living room coffee table, and put the leaf in the dining room table, all the adults mostly hung out in the kitchen. Good thing we also cleared off flat surfaces in the kitchen! (We’re a family of pilers, so flat surfaces quickly become covered with stuff.) The dining room table did get used by the kids, and the coffee table was used today by a boy consortium playing some paper D&D style game, so it was not all for naught.

I made chocolate chip pie (favorite of T-boy and his mama) using this recipe (and a combo of Trader Joe’s and Spartan chocolate chips – sorry Nestle!), as well as pecan pie (favorite of Jonski Papa, C-boy, and Z-boy) using Grandma P’s recipe and Grandpa P’s pecans. As usual, I used the flaky buttery pastry recipe from The Heritage of Southern Cooking for the crusts.

Vi Perkowski’s Pecan Pie

3 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup (e.g. Karo)
1/4 cup melted butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans

Beat ingredients together and pour into unbaked pie shell. Bake 45 to 50 minutes. Oven temperature: 375° F.

Had I been truly inspired, I would have made another gooseberry pie using the berries in my freezer, but I wasn’t. Jonski Papa made 2 pizza pies (a cinnamon sugar one and a pepperoni) using his sourdough crusts, and a loaf of chocolate sourdough (not a pie at all, but it was round). As I said, I don’t have pictures of this weekend’s events, but I did take photos when T-boy and Jonski Papa made pecan pie for Thanksgiving 2007, so they will have to do.

pecans, vanilla, sugar, and more sugar...

pecans, vanilla, sugar, and more sugar...

stirring, stirring, stirring...

stirring, stirring, stirring...


28 July 2008

The inner workings of a 5yo mind

Posted in C-boy, parenting, T-boy tagged , at 1:46 pm by Tricia

(Background: last year our family went to Costa Rica to volunteer on a Habitat for Humanity project through their Global Village project. Some photos available in this Flickr set.)

This weekend, T-boy (5) and C-boy (10) and a neighbor boy (6) were wrapping spider webs around sticks. I said something to T-boy along the lines of “the web is where the spider lives. So when you do that, you are destroying their habitat.” He asked me to define habitat, so I did. Then he exclaimed “I need to go tell C and H!” and ran off to where they were. Then I heard C-boy from over the fence, “Mom, he got it confused with Habitat for Humanity!” Apparently T-boy had told them to stop destroying spider webs because they help people in Costa Rica. Good thing C-boy was there to help interpret!

28 April 2008

Corn Starter Ghosts and Sidewalk Paint

Posted in creative outlets, fun, T-boy at 8:49 am by Tricia

Add cornstarch to Easter egg dye, and you get a pretty good sidewalk paint.

Sidewalk painting

Add cornstarch to kids and you get ghosts!
Corn Starter Ghosts
My back was turned – all right, I was inside, getting more supplies! – when they decided that since cornstarch felt so good on their hands (this I encouraged before going in), they should rub it all over their arms, and maybe a little on their faces wouldn’t hurt either (these two were not my ideas!). T-boy kept saying “corn starter” instead of cornstarch, and his friend is the one who decided they were ghosts. What you can’t see here is that the “cornstarter” bag had a hole in the corner, so much of it ended up on the porch.

(They’re wearing matching shirts because we went on a field trip in the morning.)

28 January 2008

Happy birthday, LEGO!

Posted in C-boy, fun, T-boy tagged , at 11:46 pm by Tricia

LEGO bricks turned 50 today. What a cause for celebration!

Party Exo-Toa

This Gizmodo post features a neat timeline, although I must disagree with their dismissal of Bionicles. C-boy especially is a giant fan of Bionicles. His 5th and 6th birthdays featured a Bionicle theme – he even dressed up as a Bionicle character for Halloween. Twice!

Tahu Halloween

Although I should acknowledge that his interest did eventually wane on the 3rd or 4th revision of the main characters. (“Collect all 6!” Jonski Papa used to intone, maniacally. “And again! 6 more!”) On the other hand, he bought 2 of the new models with his own money just last week. T-boy has a burgeoning interest in Bionicles, although his interest is more about playing out scenarios with the characters (it’s all about the building for C-boy – and he combines the pieces in amazingly creative ways, although recently he remade all the original sets [from memory, of course!]).

random Bionicle MOC built when C was 5

This particular piece of LEGO trivia struck me:

There are about 62 LEGO bricks for every one of the world’s 6 billion inhabitants.

because I think our house contains the LEGO allotment for at least 1000 earthlings! 2000? 10,000? And that’s if you don’t count all the little gears and locking collars and pins and such for the Bionicle models!

15 June 2007

Looks that Last

Posted in T-boy at 11:51 pm by Tricia

T-boy concentratesI recently came across this picture of T-boy on his first birthday. He’s watching C-boy manipulate a new bath toy birthday present. It’s an otherwise unremarkable photo, except I realized that he makes that exact same expression now, 3 years later, when he’s concentrating or when he’s expressing displeasure with someone.

Now I need to go back and look at baby pictures of Z-boy and C-boy, to see if I can see similar expressions that have lasted through the years!

23 December 2006


Posted in T-boy at 4:53 pm by Tricia

T-boy said to me this morning, “I need some chocolate to cheer me down.” I’m trying to figure out where that particular construction comes from – a combination of “cheer me up” and “calm me down” perhaps? Odd.

But anyway, one thing that has been cheering me (up and down) this week is that I can take my coat off the normal way without any help! It might seem like a small thing, but long-time readers (what is that, 3 people now? :^) will remember that I broke my arm back at the end of September. For the 6+ weeks I was in a cast, I relied on a thrift store poncho. Despite the jaunty fashion statement it made, I gladly switched to a coat once the sling came off on November 13th – but I quickly realized that getting it on and off would be tough. To put it on, I just had to make sure to put the left arm in first (instead of my ‘normal’ right arm lead). Taking it off was more difficult, and I often relied on an assistant, or my teeth, or some other trick.

So it was with much rejoicing this past Wednesday when I realized I could remove it “the normal way,” by shrugging my shoulders and slipping it off both arms at once! It took 5 weeks of physical therapy and home exercises to get to this point, and there are still many things I can’t do (especially using my arm behind my back). But I’d been particularly down the previous week, despairing at how long it might take to fully recover functionality, that this small thing was a welcome sign of progress! Quite enough to cheer me down, indeed.

5 September 2006

Back-to-School Treat

Posted in C-boy, food, T-boy, Z-boy at 11:50 pm by Tricia

In honor of eating seasonally, I made a special treat for back-to-school. What’s in season now? M&Ms, of course! In particular, the “Jack’s Gems” ones that are being discounted as the associated pirate movie wanes in popularity. :^)

I have an M&M cookie recipe but results were not stellar the last time I made it, so I turned elsewhere. Also, I wanted to make bar cookies since it would be quicker. I looked at the bar cookies chapter in one of my cookbooks, but didn’t find any chocolate chip bars recipes to adapt, so I turned to the back of the toll house morsels bag and adapted that.

M & M Bar Cookies

1 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
3 large eggs (mine were local! :^)
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups all-purpose white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cup M&M candies

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease 15×10 inch jelly-roll pan (or if you don’t have one, combine a 9×12 cake pan with a bread loaf pan).

Beat sugar and butter in large mixer bowl until creamy. Beat in eggs and vanilla extract.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Gradually beat flour mixture into creamed mixture. Stir in the chocolate bits. Spread into prepared pan(s).

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until top is golden brown. Cool in pan or wire rack.

Changes I made:

1. The original recipe only calls for white flour, but I didn’t have quite enough so I topped it off with wheat flour. It adds a nice touch (although at such a low percentage, it probably doesn’t improve the nutritional value much!).

2. The recipe calls for 2 cups of chocolate chips. I only put in 1 3/4 cups of Ms, but that seemed like too much, so I would try 1 1/2 next time.

First Day of School 2006 Here’s a picture of the boys on the first day of school. C-boy is entering 3rd grade, Z-boy is entering 1st, and T-boy will start going to a co-op preschool next week. And yes, they got some of these cookies in their lunchboxes today!

17 August 2006

Stone Fruits

Posted in food, T-boy, Z-boy at 12:41 am by Tricia

When I go to the Farmer’s Market, I make my rounds of various vendors. I start at my CSA where I load up my big green tyvek bag with the ‘extras’ and then grab my box. I put these in the car or bike trailer and then make my rounds of the other vendors. The CSA covers most of our vegetable needs, so the rest of the trip focuses on fruits and sundries.

I have little nicknames I use when thinking of the vendors or when talking about them to T-boy. We have “the cookie lady” – she also sells eggs, and occasional produce, but T-boy insists we visit her for cookies (we usually get PB cookies with chocolate chips, or ginger snaps). There’s also the “Turkish cookie lady”, who sells a wider variety of baked goods with less sugar than is typical in the US, including a tahini ‘sweet’ roll that’s delightful. C-boy and Z-boy vastly prefer the cider from one orchard, so I always buy that from my “apple lady” (although in the late spring she was my “rhubarb lady“!).

And then there’s the “plum man.” He wears a black cowboy hat and is unassuming, straightforward, and soft-spoken. Ask him how a certain variety of plum tastes, and he might give you some characteristics (sweet or tart or …) or he might just say “how do I describe a taste? I just can’t do it.” But he sells an amazing variety of plums (along with other things, but he’s got the biggest variety of plums of anyone, so “plum man” he is!). He starts with small red plums, then moved on to yellow plums. Now he has a different (larger) red variety, and the italian plums should be coming in soon.

Cherries and Tiny Plums Michigan cherries at top left, tiny plums at bottom right. Notice the similarity in size (if not color).

This summer I’ve added “the cherry people” to my rotation. As with the plum man, they sell lots of different things, but I stop there for cherries. Every week I buy 2 quarts. He puts them into a plastic sack, and I store it in my fruit crisper drawer at home, washing them as I need them. One day a few weeks ago, I reached into the drawer and grabbed a few cherries to finish off my breakfast. I stuck one in my mouth, took a bite, and thought “that’s a weird cherry. Maybe it went bad?” I popped the next one in, again thought “that texture is all wrong. How bizarre!” – and then realized that I’d grabbed some of those tiny plums. There was nothing wrong with the plums as plums, believe me, but it was a shock when I was expecting cherries. I got yellow plums the next week, to avoid suffering through a repeat, and by now the plums are bigger so I’m safe.

Last week Z-boy decided he liked cherries. He decided this at a friend’s house, where he somehow discovered the joy of spitting out the pits. (The previous day, he rejected cherries when offered at home, in part because of the pits!) Inspired by his big brother, T-boy now eats cherries, too (although I have to pit his). So now I have competition for my cherries – I might have to start buying 3 quarts! Cherry season has been going since early July or maybe late June, but I fear the season will end too soon (and I’m afraid to ask). But there’s still a few more varieties of plums to work through, and some more peach varieties (not to mention the nectarines that rival the ones I ate while working at Yellowstone) before we launch into apple season, so I think we’ll be in stone fruit heaven for a few more weeks. Now if we could just convince C-boy to join us…

15 August 2006

Skateboard Mom? Not me!

Posted in C-boy, fun, parenting, T-boy, Z-boy at 9:59 pm by Tricia

A few weeks ago, Z-boy turned to me in the kitchen one night and said: “Tell me the truth. Do you put on heelys and skate around the house after I go to bed?” Where this came from, I have no idea, but after assuring him I did not, he proceeded to ask “Do you have any other secrets you’re hiding from me?”

Z-boy has been obsessed with skateboarding for months now, so Jonski Papa read him the biography of a current skateboard phenom, Andy Mac. Although they’ve been visiting various skateboard parks in this part of the state this summer (Z-boy on his skateboard, C-boy on inline skates), T-boy usually stays home. He’s too little for skate parks, plus he still needs someone to hold him up while skating. So I was surprised while planning a trip to the library the other day when T-boy insisted he get a book about Andy Mac. I dutifully found the book, and let him carry it on the way home. He showed it to his dad and proudly announced “We got a book about Andy Mac!” “Oh. What does Andy Mac do?” his dad asked (expecting to hear something along the lines of “ride a skateboard”. “He drops in!” T-boy replied. The title of the book, in case you didn’t follow the link, is Dropping In With Andy Mac (‘dropping in’ is the name of a particular skateboard trick).

Skateboard Mom Back Cover We also got 2 picture books about skateboarding on that same trip: Cosmo Zooms and Skateboard Mom. You can probably guess the plot of the latter book from the title (if you can’t, here it is: boy gets skateboard for his birthday, mom grabs it away and rushes out the door to show her stuff). But what got me was when we finished the book and I turned to the back cover and saw: “You better ask your mom what surprises she has up her sleeve…” Deja vu! Wasn’t Z-boy doing that just the week before? Eerie.

As it turns out, the author of this book used to be on an amateur skateboard team as a kid, and has founded The International Society of Skateboarding Moms which is “about making time for play, no matter your age.” I really wish I were better about making time for play, or had a more playful spirit, but I just don’t see myself stepping on a skateboard any time soon. A scooter is okay, but that’s about as extreme as I’m willing to go for the time being!

(And no, I’m not going to tell you what surprises I have up my sleeve – at least not today!)

14 August 2006

More Back Formations

Posted in C-boy, T-boy at 11:34 pm by Tricia

More great back formations from toddler minds:

At one point when C-boy was little, we branched out and added Kix to his prepared cereal repertoire. (They are, after all, kid-tested and mother-approved!) He decided that each little ball should be called a “kick”, as in “can I have one more kick?” (“kik”, perhaps?)

Ideally in our family, you change into “day clothes” before going downstairs in the morning. You definitely wear “day clothes” to go outside (exceptions: pajama shirts are allowed, especially if they are dearly beloved space-themed or otherwise cool; fleece footie pajamas have been allowed at times in winter). T-boy has decided that the singular form of “clothes” is “clo”, as in “I need a day clo shirt” or (more likely, in recent weeks) “I don’t like that clo!”

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