// Things I want to remember by Christina Rosalie

So busy this week, back to school, back to being in a hundred places at once. Still, it's summer and I'm trying to be in it. At the dinner table watching our boys run out across the grass holding hands to look for sticks for roasting marshmallows, T says: "Oh love, I want this to last forever."

I nod, knowing exactly what he means. Them, as they are with shaggy summer hair, scraped knees, berry stains on their fingers. And us. Our lives full to the brim right now, but in good way.

Things I want to remember:

// Dinner tonight: flatbread baked on a stone on the grill along with summer peaches + a hint of vanilla, chicken with olive oil + thyme, and a salad of summer's brightest: new plump blueberries, arugula from the garden, baby lettuces in a mustard maple balsamic vinaigrette.

// The way morning gallops in, with my boy's on it's back. They're wearing capes and wielding swords. It's before 7am. They are whirring with elbows and energy and laughter.

// The laundry whirring in a quiet house while the babysitter takes the boys on a bug-catching walk. They bring back crickets in a plastic egg box with holes poked in the top. It stays on my counter over night: some wells filled with water, others with grass. In the morning the insects are all alive still, and I make a plea for their release.

// Impending angst about my book deadline. So much to make a book. So many words. Picking the right ones seems feels daunting some days.

// Returning from an afternoon run just as thunder breaks the sky open. Then sitting in a circle of pages, blue post it notes scattered about like the petals of some sacred offering to the writing gods while the thunder rolls about like a bowling ball above me in the sky. Rain falls through the open windows onto the sills bringing the scent of earth and green.

Unwind by Christina Rosalie

Oh hello!

What have you been up to?

The past few days have been my very own Alice in Wonderland gone awry: coding and building a website from the ground up--using all new (to me) tools has made my brain ache and my body long for movement. It's still in it's demo phase, but I'm excited to share it. Go take a peak around.

Outside it keeps snowing: gorgeous dreamy flakes and our Christmas will be white, white, white. In the tree out the dining room window a red cardinal waits, wondering when I'll put the bird feeders out. Things have been on hold around here as the semester came to a symphonic end. Everything colliding with many unexpected technical failures: the learning curve is steep when you're a novice.

Of course, I love every minute: I'm like that. But honestly, this last week was really hard. I really started to miss all the things that define the day to day of my life: wrestling on the floor with my boys; exercise; painting my toenails; making out; going out with friends; decorating for the holidays. Everything was temporarily abandoned as I hunched at the table and produced create a website; two essays; and three art projects.

Now: I'm a free girl for a few days--but I have some serious (and super exciting!) book business that must be attended to, and how! Cannot wait to share--but can't yet. Just grin with me & keep your fingers crossed. And thank you, thank you for your patience with getting rewards and all the rest. I haven't forgotten. Oh no, not at all. It's just: I never do things half way. It's going to be awesome. Oh yes.

Today we are heading out to cut a tree and tonight our neighbors have a Christmas nativity that they've been putting on with the neighborhood kids in their barn for twenty years. It's magical: warmth and caroling and kids with halos and angel wings and donkeys and lamas and lambs all acting out the story of the birth of Jesus. I love it. It's one of my favorite things about the holiday actually: this simple, old fashioned celebration that speaks to the heart and the truth of this holiday. Peace and goodwill and community. And also cookies and sledding after.

Speaking of... we're having some friends for some cookie decorating fun tomorrow and I'm wondering: what is your absolute favorite holiday cookie recipe?

August 7::Saturday by Christina Rosalie

All about friends. The best of friends. (Miss you Jess.) Long walks to fields dappled with light; clouds above, laughter, the kind of honesty that comes from knowing someone for more than a decade; good wine and pasta with fresh corn, and chard, basil and tomatoes from the garden; the promise of Sunday bacon and a few more hours to watch my kids play with some of my favorite people in the whole world. (Also love that seeing my family through someone elses lens...)

Ripe with sunshine, ripe with joy by Christina Rosalie

Hello! I spent the morning in the garden weeding + harvesting: dirt under my finger nails; gold finches watching me from the rhubarb. Then I discovered these: wild blackberries along the garden fence and in the field beyond. I sacrificed my pretty knees for these (now scraped and scratched--there is nothing quite like a blackberry bramble's thorns.) But oh, so utterly worth it. How I love these morsels of wild sweet. They don't even taste a hint like the fat bland ones from the store. I cannot get enough. My boys stand in front of me their mouths open wide like baby birds. They can't get enough either. Their tongues turn purple and they giggle as I plunk the berries in. Ripe with sunshine; ripe with joy. +++

Today I spoke with the people from the program and we're in a holding pattern for another week to ten days (I'm counting on the latter.) So I'm smiling and letting go of expectations and looking forward to whatever comes. Everything is possible.

+++ Some things to share:

Sweet as a loon * This photo looks just like where I grew up. * Shona's little tree imp reminds me of myself when I was small...

I am totally smitten over this blog (especially the dreamy writing.)

And this quote (I found it here):

“Our wishes foretell the capacities within ourselves; they are harbingers of what we shall be able to accomplish. What we can do and want to do is projected in our imagination, quite outside ourselves, and into the future. We are attracted to what is already ours, in secret. Thus passionate anticipation transforms what is already possible into dreamt-for reality.” –Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I hope you have a glorious weekend! xoxo!

August, just around the corner by Christina Rosalie

Summer is galloping by. Full tilt. Allready the shadows are longer as we head outdoors after dinner, the four of us. The boys head to the sandbox. T and I grab our new rackets and giggle as we attempt volley after volley in the fading summer light. Around our heads halos of insects swarm; the air is mellow and smells of the honeysuckle and roses by the front door.
In the garden things are suddenly ready for harvest: arugula every single day, spinach, basil, chives, lettuce. I walk down barefoot, often followed by one or the other boy to harvest a colander full before lunch. The best salads begin with a simple vinaigrette, chopped fresh herbs, every green imaginable, and then whatever we have around to throw in: grilled trout, quinoa, carrot curlicues, tomatoes. I will remember this summer as the summer of fantastic salads.
And of changes.

Wild crazy wonderful changes.

Your comments on my last post really filled me up. I want you to know that. Each one brought new perspective, encouragement, thoughtfulness.

I especially loved this from V Grrrl, because it reaffirmed exactly what I believe:

I think a healthy family is one where everyone’s needs are balanced against each others, where family members recognize that everyone works together for the family as a whole, and that sacrifice and compromise are part of that process.

T and I and our boys all made a promise to each other about this upcoming year. It's going to be an all hands on deck kind of year, and all four of us are in. We're all going to try our hardest to do it the first time, follow through, pick up the slack, pick up the messes as we make them, remember to take walks, exercise, eat chocolate, laugh.

It's going to be such an adventure. I can't wait.

T and I have basically become adults together. We met when he was just turning 21, and in the decade that I've known him he's either been a student or working in the stock market and I cannot even begin to describe the relief and disorientation I feel at imagining him doing work that matters in the world; work that he loves; work for a salary. It will be a learning curve for us both to discover ourselves anew in these new roles. I imagine it will be all about patience and patience and patience. Also humor. And chocolate.

For the next month I'm working my way through the manuscript for A Field Guide To Now. It's exciting to finally be in it. Things are coming together. Art, words, ideas. I'm excited by the direction and beginning to trust the process now that I've had a few days strung together of consistent project time. (That last photo is a sneak peak at a piece of art that will go into a postcard.)

I'm curious: What are your plans for August? What food are you crushing on right now? What tunes are you loving?

Also: If you could hear just one thing that you need to hear right now, what would it be?


Lovely things by Christina Rosalie

Hello. Here are a couple glimpses from around our house today. My new studio, in our former third bedroom, is almost done. T is building a glorious built-in very simple, extra long desk for me along two walls. Finally, for the first time in my life I'll have enough space to write and do spread a chapter out, or to leave a painting in progress and not have it compete for space. It's also the first time that I'll ever have a studio that isn't also doubling as a guest bedroom (T's former home office will become that space...) I am thrilled. Thrilled about having a space that is calm and pretty and mine all mine.

I can't help but feel a little outnumbered sometimes around the only girl among all these loud boys (except for the cat!) I've just had this conversation with Bean who dashed pell-mell into the bathroom this morning, interrupting me as I was attending to a few stray eyebrow hairs:

"Hey little man, you can't come into the bathroom when Mommy's in it unless you're either bleeding or vomiting from now on, okay?"


"Because Mommy is a girl and girls totally deserve uninterrupted bathroom time."



Oh yes I did.

(His drawing above is of "plans" for crane that can work at night and has multiple hooks.)

While T has was sanding and painting and hammering away upstairs, I spent the morning de-stoning little local sour cherries to make some sort of delight. I made the recipe up, and it's just divine:

For the crust: A little more than 2 cups flour (I used a cup of fresh ground whole wheat--that is a bit coarse and nutty and oh, so delicious) About 1 1/2 sticks butter. About 2 tablespoons cold water (You might need more if it's not 90 percent humidity!)

For the filling: Almost a quart of sour cherries, de-stoned About 1/4 cup sugar 2 tablespoons corn starch

I spread the dough into the pie plate without rolling it out first--because of the whole grain flour it was very crumbly and broke easily. After filling with cherries I folded the extra crust over the top and baked it at 425 for the first 20 minutes or so, and then at 375 for an additional half hour. Scrumptious. Bubbly. So good. I'm guessing it will be even better for breakfast *wink.*

Lastly, I just wanted to tell you that your comments on my last post absolutely filled me up with joy. Thank you. It's a beginning of so many things that are new and tenuous and optimistic.

xoxo! C

Small perfect things by Christina Rosalie

Things I want to remember about the weekend:

Sounds: the exquisite laughter and glee of the under six set at discovering plastic colored eggs strewn about our friend's back yard; the peepers trilling, bumble bees, bellies fat, new from sleeping in the mud buzzing around beside our picnic blanket; the evening wind rushing up the valley.

Sights: pink hair bows and Easter dresses on our friend's little girls; Bean in his favorite plaid button down, baskets brimming with colored eggs, kids on the swing sets their hair flying back, watermelon smiles, new buds on the trees, the return of the indigo buntings by the pond,

Moments: playing in the sandbox after dinner, playing guitar + laughing with friends up from Boston after dinner; a walk to the pond, barefoot across the squishy grass; looking out the window at Bean and T sitting side by side on a rock eating peanut butter and jelly from jars with spoons (their version of picnic heaven)

Sensations: wearing messy braids, 80 degree sunshine, bare feet on mud; rubbing sunscreen onto little boy cheeks, running hard 3 miles, sunburn (everyone was pink last night).

Food: prosciutto + cantaloupe, grilled lamb + tadziki, coconut cupcakes, iced lattes, Circus Boy, valpolicella, dark chocolate.

More Snapshots by Christina Rosalie

"How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives."--Annie Dillard

IMG_9399Maple sugar on the first snow of the season... IMG_9085TEETH! IMG_9470Our advent wreath with a little twirly mobile from Germany (a childhood tradition.) IMG_9482Our first gingerbread house attempt this year. Bean cut out the templates and the dough. And mixed everything. IMG_9462-2Bean was hilarious to watch decorating these. He was so careful with the icing... then DUMPED the sprinkles on. IMG_9135Lots of snowflakes have been cut this year...Bean made this one entirely himself. IMG_9500Bundled up. Getting ready to do our annual holiday photo...

PS: I'm sort of sick and am hating the general anxiety of Sunday night. There is always a to-do list bigger than my brain waiting for Monday. What's on your to-do list this week?

Tangent-worthy snapshots: by Christina Rosalie

IMG_8689IMG_8690IMG_8978IMG_8883 We made cinnamon rolls this morning: Bean measuring the flour out, his eyebrows getting dusted as the mixer kicked into high gear; going to gather eggs first. (We have an interesting flock this year: Aracunas, New Hampshir Reds, Cuckoo Marans, Barred Rocks and a Buff Orpington rooster.) While the dough rose in my favorite vintage Pyrex bowl, we started hanging lights: big fat colored ones, like I remember from being a kid.

Back inside it was all about tinker toys and cinnamon & brown sugar filling (with walnuts too) and leftovers for lunch. Hard cider. Turkey + cranberry sauce + coleslaw on raisin bread. (Of note: DH butchered our turkey this year himself. A Heritage breed, raised by a friend of ours.)

Later: A fire in the wood stove. Inclement weather, but the best kind. Going to get the mail wearing rain boot. Sprout trying to stand all on his own (and cutting two top teeth.) Then making pasta from scratch: the dough gorgeously golden with fresh eggs. Linguine never tasted better: served with Parmesan, sausages and swiss chard sauteed with garlic.

Finally, in the quiet of a post bedtime house: the crackle of logs burning in the stove, getting words down on the page uninterrupted. A glass of red wine. The cat curled at my ankles. Looking forward the inevitable sweetness of bed: the curve of his back, warm, and muscled against me in the dark.

Live Blogging Thursday by Christina Rosalie

Hi Thursday. I've been off in my own world lately, doing things. One of the things I have been doing is trying to sort out some issues with my blog and the funky charset issues that occurred with an upgrade to a newer version of Wordpress. As a result I've been going through my archives, and holy moly I've been blogging a while. This is the 901 post on this blog. Crazy, right? Anyway, what I realized is that I love reading my older posts that just capture whatever we were doing that day, right in the moment. Maybe they are banal moments, but they are ours and I like the record. I like seeing where we were, and where we are now, and lately I haven't been doing nearly enough of that here.

So. Today. LIVE BLOGGING. I'm going to update this post a bunch throughout the day as Bean and Sprout and I gallivant and get ourselves into situations. I would LOVE for you to join in and live blog your day too. Leave a comment with a link to your post if you do.

9:32 A.M.: IMG_5571 This is what our morning looks like often. The boys hanging out together doing things. Sprout has just started rolling over back to tummy (he's been doing tummy to back for a while) and with this whole new range of mobility he is tearing things up! Bean likes the company.

IMG_5582 Breakfast. This is a classic for me: toss two pieces of bread with ample butter into a pan. Crack two eggs on top, any old place. Cook the whole mess. Eat. The toast is dreamy. Buttery and crisp. The eggs are hard, which I like. Also a latte.

Now we are off to carve sticks and build fairy houses in the back yard while Sprout naps.

1:20 P.M. Harder than I thought to keep up with our active family & actually post pictures!

From the morning fairy house making: Bean was very serious about using the pocket knife. He sharpened the ends of sticks to poke into the moss to build the structure. We gathered small stones and shells and field flowers. When you stop to look, even the most humble clover astounds.


IMG_5588 IMG_5589 IMG_5593 IMG_5596 IMG_5602 IMG_5613 IMG_5621

When we came indoors we had slice after slice of cantaloupe and then went for an impromptu raspberry picking adventure with DH. Bean raced up and down the rows, eating more berries certainly than he picked. Sprout sampled some too, and didn't seem to have any complaints. I am picturing some type of raspberry cobbler for dessert tonight.

IMG_5635 IMG_5646

Now Bean is napping and Sprout and I are hanging out in the back yard. The end of summer crickets have begun their ruckus, even though it has only felt like summer for the past week. We've had so much rain, these days of warm and gold have been balm to our damp spirits.

Next up: exercise, a swim at the pond, and making dessert.

How has your Thursday been treating you?

3:25 P.M. We just had the best swim. I am slowly but surely teaching Bean to swim in the neighbor's pond. I didn't bring the camera--one too many things to haul! But he was great and giggly and super cute. He put his head under and kicked gorgeously and tried many times to push off from the side and paddle to me. He'll be swimming by the end of the summer, I think.

Where is everyone today?

10:39 P.M. It was a perfect day. Not every day turns out like this, but I am happy that this was the day I picked to keep my camera close at hand and record moments.

After our swim at the pond DH and I worked out, Sprout watched and Bean painted. IMG_5649

Then Bean and Sprout did some chilling out with books. IMG_5654

Then dinner. Pasta with fresh basil, oregano, chives, tomatoes, olives, and sausage. IMG_5660

And the best raspberry cobbler ever. EVER. (so easy to make: 1 c. flour + 1c. whipped cream folded together with 4 tsp. sugar for the crust--apply in lumps over 2 pints raspberries w/ 1/4-1/2c. sugar and 4tbs butter cut into small pieces. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes.) DIVINE. IMG_5663

I loved reading the comments today. There is something so fascinating to me about the minutia of life. I am really looking forward to some of you doing some live blogging too. A peak into your world as it unfolds.

Thunder cupcakes by Christina Rosalie

IMG_5058 Make these. They are the perfect accompaniment for thunderstorms, especially when made and eaten with little boys.

* 1 8-ounce package cream cheese * 1 large egg * 2 tablespoons sugar * 1/2 teaspoon salt * 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract * 1/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

* 1 cup all purpose flour * 3 tablespoons sifted unsweetened cocoa powder * 3/4 teaspoon baking powder * 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt * 1/8 teaspoon baking soda * 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar * 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature * 2 large eggs * 1 teaspoon vanilla extract * 3 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped, melted, warm * 1/2 cup whole milk

Beat cream cheese in medium bowl. Add egg, sugar, salt, and vanilla and beat until almost smooth. Fold in chocolate chips (I was generous with these!)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line standard muffin pan with 12 paper liners. Mix wet ingredients together then add dry. Fill cups 1/3 full. Then plunk a heaping spoonful of the cream cheese + chocolate chip mixture into the middle of each cup.

Bake cupcakes until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool in the pan, then in the fridge~ I think these cupcakes actually taste better cold than warm...though some might beg to differ.

* Recipe originally from here.

Also, I am just loving these beautiful photographs.

A weekend roundup by Christina Rosalie

First off, I very much loved reading about your media habits the past couple of days. I have continued keep a record of what I've been consuming media wise, and I think that it's made me much more conscious and thoughtful about my choices... I've decided to keep the record going over at twitter. It seems like the perfect, if not slightly ironic venue for such things. But before I do, I want to share with you some of my favorite links from the past couple of days:

Firstly, Elizabeth Strout's essay "English Lesson" in the Washington Post this week is fantastic. She is such an amazing writer to me. Her characters are so real, nuanced, subtle. She deserves every ounce of praise for Olive Kitteridge, which was my favorite book I read last year.

Also, I am giddy with the discovery of the Washington Post's Summer Reading Issues from years past. I am sure everyone else on the face of the earth has already devoured these stories, but until now they have somehow escaped me. Delight. I cannot wait to read all of them (I have not yet.)

Also, speaking of the Washington Post, if you don't read Gene Weingarten you should. This piece made me sob when I first read it. This one made me nearly die laughing. Also, because things seem to work this way in my life, his piece this week explores the various glories and follies of tweeting. Ah-hem.

Now, without further ado, some family updates (a.k.a, my camera is fixed people. Prepare yourselves for some seriously photo-heavy posts to come!)

First off, have you met Bob, our rooster? Bob, Internets. Internets, Bob. He is named after this book. IMG_4788

Here is the new batch of girls who have finally figured out how to do the free-range thing, thus saving us more fruitless attempts to catch them whilst thrashing our legs on sharp pine boughs. IMG_4804

And here is newest member of the poultry bunch: the chick that the goose hatched. It's name name is Twitter. Bean named it. I swear he knows nothing of my current media obsessions. IMG_4863

And because I cannot stop staring at my beautiful boys: IMG_4860


Also yesterday, because it was raining and we were bummed because we were supposed to go to this amazing parade to celebrate the umpteen hundred years of our city's existence and instead had to stay home to avoid being drenched and bedraggled, we had a dumpling party instead. The four of us. Fancy frozen drinks for everyone and homemade dumplings using this recipe.



While we were frying up the dumplings we had pandora on, set to a Madonna quick mix (which turned out to be the best movin, groovin, bootie shaking tunes ever!) The storm was right overhead with lots of serious thunderclaps. For dessert we made chocolate pudding with fresh strawberries and watched the Tour together on the couch.

What have you been reading, doing, and eating this weekend?

Sweet things by Christina Rosalie

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Things that I loved about today: figs & raw honey, a four mile run (!) and a swim in our neighbor's pond. Oh how I love to swim...and somehow I had forgotten this. I don't know why it's taken me three years to go and jump in, the surface rippling green, bluebirds swooping about. How I love the soft feel of the pond bottom underfoot, the way the water is soft on your skin, the way the bubbles rise up when you kick. Bean and I have gone every day this week. We lie like otters on the little wooden dock, and then we swim.

He doesn't know how to swim yet, but he's becoming more daring: leaping from the bank into the water into my arms. His grins, his chattering teeth, his little muscled torso nearly break my heart. He is so lovely, so beautiful, my son. My firstborn boy, so big now: learning to swim.

On his bike he is a terror. He's been riding without training wheels for months and now he purposely seeks out the washed out, steepest places on the driveway, the bumpiest pot-holes to ride over full tilt. He's a mountain biker in the making: the way he skids to a stop, leaps off his bike, swings back on it, all the while grinning, mud splattering up the back of his shirt, his yellow thunderbolt helmet the perfect statement.

Boys. Even though I imagined boys I couldn't have pictured this. The delight and silliness of little boys. The way they play together makes me nearly swoon with pleasure. Bean seeks out Sprout, he wants to be near him, next to him. He 'reads' him books, acts out entire narratives with matchbox cars, sings endless little songs, lies noes to nose with him. And all the while Sprout grins like he's having lunch with his idol. It's the best, the way my boys are together. I want more than anything for them to stay this way. For them to always be buddies and friends, for Bean to always have Sprout's back. For Sprout to always burst into wide smiles when his brother enters the room. It makes me so happy.

Bean asked if he and Sprout could share a room recently. We have 3 bedrooms, so they wouldn't have to necessarily, and it hadn't really occurred to me to have them share. But now I'm wondering, why not? What are the pros and cons? I always had to share a room with one or the other of my sisters, and while I am sure they hated it (sorry I stole all your clothes, sis!) I adored it. Not always, but most of the time. I loved going to bed and having a sister to whisper with, and waking up in the middle of the night and hearing her breathe. But now as a parent I'm not actually sure how to orchestrate room sharing--with boys who are four years apart. How would bedtimes work?

So. Questions: what were the highlights of your day today? And: yea or nay on the shared-bedroom business?

Adventures in food:: a perfect spring dinner by Christina Rosalie

Hi. Happy Friday! How was your week? Mine was full of serendipity and unexpected gifts from strangers. Finding things in common. A date at a french bistro, shiraz and lively music. A dreamy Sprout. A bike-riding, giggling goofball Bean. Lots to tell about, when I get more than a half hour to write. In the meantime, here is an absolutely perfect dinner I simply had to share. I used to be so afraid of cooking/baking. Gradually I am discovering how much I love it. Especially when food is simple, like these recipes are: just a few ingredients, fresh, local, in season.

Best Springtime Salad Ever 1 bunch fresh asparagus 1 large handful sugar snap peas 1/2 head red lettuce 1/2 head romane lettuce (or improvise with whatever are the freshest best salad greens you can find!) grilled flank steak

Just barely saute asparagus & peas in a little lemon and olive oil. Turn the heat off when the asparagus is just tender, but still a bit crispy. Throw veggies onto a bed of fresh lettuce. Add one whole avocado sliced. Grill the steak until just medium rare. Slice thinly and add to the salad just before serving.

I used Brian's delicious vinaigrette. I used a seedy dijon mustard, thyme, tarragon, and parsley. Apply lavishly. Toss. DELICIOUS.

Inspired by Nigella's Hearthbread from How To Be A Domestic Goddess. So easy. And it turned out perfectly. Light, soft, flavorful, crusty.

3 1/2 c. white bread flour (I have found that actually using bread flour as opposed to substituting with just anything, really does make a difference!) 1 T. instant yeast (I used SAF Instant) 1 T. salt 1 1/3 c. warm water 5-ish T. olive oil 1-2 heads garlic 1 T. fennel seeds 1 T. herbs de Provence 1 handful parsley more olive oil

Preheat to 400. Mix flour, yeast & salt. Add water and olive oil. Stir until dough forms, add more liquid as needed. Make dough into a ball & knead until it feels really soft and supple. Put into a oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel & put in a warm place (a sunny windowsill is my new favorite spot for rising dough. In the winter, by the wood stove.)

While the dough is rising: peel heads of garlic, put onto tinfoil & drizzle with olive oil. Wrap loosely to make a little package & roast in the oven at 400. In a food processor pour a good splash or two of olive oil & add parsley. Give it a whirl. Then add the garlic once it has baked until it is golden and soft.

Reduce oven heat to 375.When the dough is double in size, deflate it, divide dough in half, put parchment paper on two baking sheets, and roll out dough to form a bulky rectangle or oval. I used my hands to stretch the dough. I found it very supple and easy to work with--no rolling necessary. Transfer the breads on their papers to baking sheets, cover with tea towels and let rise for 25 minutes until they are puffy. Then poke your fingers all over the tops of them to dimple them. Spread the garlic/parsley/olive oil mixture on one. On the other spread the fennel seeds, herbs de Provence, and more olive oil. Put them into the oven and bake at 375 for about 20 minutes until breads are cooked and golden.

The only way to eat this bread is greedily. With bare hands.

For dessert, fresh rhubarb grunt (also a Nigella recipe.) I use this recipe a lot, with any kind of spring or summer fruit (I described the peach version here,) but rhubarb in springtime is quintessential and utterly grand.

Grunt: Cut 4-5 stalks rhubarb into slices and place them in the bottom of a pie pan with a few dabs of butter and a sprinkle of sugar. Mix 1 cup flour, 1/3 cup sugar, and 1-1 ½ cups whipped cream together until it becomes a sticky dough. Place dough in mounded spoonfuls on top of peaches and bake at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes until the top is golden brown and the rhubarb bubbly.

*** Do you have any favorite spring recipes to share?

For the love of food by Christina Rosalie

I spent the day in the garden: discovering what weeks of rain and heat and neglect can do to leggy tomatoes and lettuces. Do you know that when a lettuce bolts, it shoots up four feet tall? I’ve learned so much from my garden this year—my first in this state, in this rocky soil and micro growing season. I planted too many lettuces at the same time, and now I’m stuck waiting for new seedlings to take hold and grow into big fat heads, while all the ones I previously planted were ready at exactly the same time and have now all grown bitter and bolted. I also planted far too many radishes and mustard greens, which grow wildly and rapidly bolted within a month. I left them in for a while, an invitation to the honey bees. What I’ve loved and will repeat are the beautiful artichokes, the watermelons and pumpkins, the bush beans, tomatoes, and sweet peas. I used sticks from the woods to prop the peas up, and today harvested a colander full, which I shucked and had a lovely bowl full of jewel-green peas. Now the only question is how should I cook them?

The sad fact of the matter is that in addition to being a complete amateur gardener, I am even more of an amateur cook. I lack any and all ability to improvise in the kitchen, throwing a few ingredients together in a way that makes the flavors jostle and dance. And it’s something I’m not proud about at all. In fact, it makes me feel somehow very, oh, I don’t know, like a bad mother, to be honest.

DH cooks almost all of our food—he wooed me with oysters in white wine, polenta with chevre and sundried tomatoes, fried ravioli with sage, ridiculously tender steaks and new potatoes. But when push comes to shove his default foods tend to fall into two categories: meat and pasta, and after a while I feel like I should somehow be summoning the rich culinary tradition of my mother. She makes exquisite food using multiple grains and veggies and everything she makes is always exploding with flavor.

Her good food nourished me growing up, and gave me something I treasure: a truly healthy attitude towards food. I don’t eat for comfort; I can leave a half a cookie on my plate if I feel full; and I crave salad and fresh fruit over anything processed. But damn, for all that, I can’t cook anything. And it’s something that I want to change. I want to give Bean, and this new little Sprout the same kind of soul nourishment my mother’s food gave me.

Okay, so I can make practically anything if I follow a recipe, but I get daunted easily and NEVER know what to buy at the grocery store. Our refrigerator and pantry are always full and yet we never seem to have any ingredients to make anything. It’s a dire and sad state of affairs. How do I change this?

I’ve been thinking about food because my attitude towards it has been severely altered by this pregnancy: now everything is mostly unappealing. I have no cravings, and in fact have an aversion to almost every single food product you can think of. Truly, it feels like being cursed. I have perhaps never fully considered just how much I enjoy food. It’s both the ritual of eating together and the nourishment that I love about it, and I miss both with a vengeance. Bread products are the only non offenders.

So I have questions: how shall I cook my sweet peas? And also, how can I possibly go about learning to cook? Not crazy fancy stuff. Just simple wholesome meals using the foods I love: fresh local veggies and fruits, grains, nuts, etc.

If you love to cook, I want to know how you make meals? How do you plan? How do you purchase food for the week? How do you decide what to make for dinner—and make it without it taking two hours and using every pot in the kitchen?

It's only the beginning by Christina Rosalie

I’ve grown accustomed to being hunched over. Hunched, as in, knees up, back rounded, almost fetal. This is the way I spend my day, curled on the couch, attached at the hip to my laptop, mostly, between tentative forays into the kitchen, and occasional attempts to be useful in any way. It isn’t pretty. Remember when I used to be a runner? When I wake up, for a split second as I’m lying there in bed, I think I’ve maybe just been having an unpleasant dream (one that involves lots of dry heaving and vomit.) I lie perfectly still on the apricot colored sheets and feel the wind blow through the open window above the bed, cool on my cheeks, and my body feels simply there. Toes, knees, arms heavy from sleep. Usually, DH has already gone to shower, but Bean, who crawls into our bed at sun up, is snuggled next to me, and I still like the smell of his hair, so I curl towards him and nuzzle in.

Eventually though, I must stand, shower, and begin the ridiculous process of trying to put food in my stomach while my stomach furiously tries to expel it. Banana didn’t go over so well this morning. Peanut butter, which I can barely stand in ‘real life’ is one of the few things that sticks without complete offense. If I eat every two hours, I seem to be able to avoid vomiting. Sort of. According to the doctor, this is all good news. She told me this with a grin, while she measured the blur of black and white with a fluttering heart rate on the ultrasound monitor. Due date, February 24.

Yesterday was miserably hot, which only increased my discomfort. Over night though, the humidity was squandered in big fat raindrops. Now, the grass is dew-dimpled and silvery. Everything is a tangle of green, the meadows are waist high with grass. The goslings have tripled in size. In the garden, the cabbages like fat purple jewels are tucked between pewter leaves. The tomatoes are ramshackle, taking over an entire bed. The radishes have gone wildly to seed, but I leave them in place, their tiny white flowers calling for honey bees.

Last night, in a rare moment of inspiration devoid of nausea, I made peach grunt with a pile of almost spoiled peaches. Easy peasy. Cut up peaches and place them in the bottom of a pie pan with a few dabs of butter and a sprinkle of sugar. Mix 1 cup flour, 1/3 cup sugar, and 1-1 ½ cups whipped cream together until it becomes a sticky dough. Place dough in mounded spoonfuls on top of peaches and bake at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes until the top is golden brown and the peaches are bubbly.

We ate it with whipped cream. The dough bakes into this lovely scone-like confection. Really quite delicious, even while nauseous.

Now I am hunched on the floor beside Bean who is drawing with scented markers. Of course, he thinks they are the coolest things in the entire world. I think they were invented to torture women afflicted with the all day version of morning sickness.

While I’m genuinely excited about the idea—the idea, mind you and not necessarily the actuality—of two kids, the fact that I now must be pregnant for the next eight months is painful to me. And depressing. I hated being pregnant the first time around, and I hate it no less this time. I also hate all those women who virtually sparkle the entire time they are pregnant. Who act as if it is the best thing in the universe. Halley Berry types who say they wish they could be pregnant forever.

Am I the only person in the world who hates being pregnant?

hormone insanity by Christina Rosalie

In the restaurant the other night, this is what transpired: Me: I’ll have a Tom Ka soup and an order of spring rolls. DH: I’ll have---(some weird unpronounced-able pork thing) Me: He’ll have (pointing to Bean) one spring roll, please. Waitress: So you want two springrolls? Me: No, an order of springrolls for me and one for him. DH: Wait, HOW MANY spring rolls do you want? Me: (Getting anxious) Um. Waitress: So you want three springrolls? Me: Yes

Waitress leaves. DH: You know you’re going to be getting THREE ORDERS of springrolls right? Me: What? I said I wanted three springrolls. DH: No. You said you wanted three orders. She asked you how many orders you wanted. You said three. Me: I said… (suddenly feel hot tears at the back of my eyes. Cover my face with my hands.) DH: You are going to be getting SIX springrolls (laughing.) Me: (pathetic and teary eyed) Let’s not talk about the spring rolls any more.

Waitress arrives with three plates of springrolls, six in total and gives me a weird look.

Hormones. What the ef? Seriously, they are rocking my world. Also, it should be noted that I suddenly didn't even LIKE the damn spring rolls.

What were/are your favorite foods while pregnant? And by "while pregnant" I mean early pregnant when your entire central nervous system is being drenched in HCG, thereby making almost all foods intolorable.

Sunday brain clutter by Christina Rosalie

I went into my classroom for the first official time since I got the job. A big geometric room, with yellow paint and fairly new rugs. It’s still waiting for summer cleaning though, so other than sitting in the middle of it to draw a quick floor plan on the back of a used piece of printer paper, I didn’t stay. I’ll be there enough once it’s waxed and scrubbed, arranging chairs and labeling things. Instead, I went shopping.

There is a whole slew of outlet stores right down the road from my school, and I’ve been dying to go, but have never had both hands free. That is probably one of the greatest things I miss about my pre-baby life: both hands. Now it’s a rare occasion when I’m not schlepping Bean and/or his stroller/diaper bag, or some other baby related accoutrement. But today it was just me and my blue bag.

I discovered something depressing while shopping. Something I’ve kindof been made aware of, but have been ignoring: my boobs have shrunk. Yeah, I’m stepping this low. A boob post. But I’m a WOMAN, after all, and women are aloud to whimper and whine about such things—especially after my negligee drawer has only seen D cups for the past year. I’m now in what might be called the “nearly B” category. Did you even know there was such a category? Google it. You’ll see. There is, and I’m in it. I drowned my sorrows by spending a small fortune on glorious midnight blue on-sale bath towels, and savoring more of this wine (it’s cheap, and luscious: a bouquet of blackberries, and a sweet finish.)

So much goodness by Christina Rosalie

Sweet cantaloupe for breakfast, like golden crescent moons on our plates, and tonight a dinner party with our neighbors. Red wine by the glass full, thai noodles, chicken grilled to perfection. Laughter and unexpected ease. Our neighbors are amazing people. The kind of people I always wished I had as neighbors, but never believed really existed. The kind who say: come over to my house any time, grab a beer if I’m not there or borrow my tractor. The kind who are professional chocolatiers (no kidding, they make amazing tuffles and live just down the road), mechanics, doctors, and athletes, who sit us down and tell us where the local swimming holes are, who to call to get our brush cleared, or how to handle the local skunks (walk right by them, pretending they don’t exist & they won’t spray.) The kind who make authentic German strudel, or go for 25 mile 'casual' Sunday bike rides. Yeah. That kind. How did we get this lucky?

"The moon, Mama!" by Christina Rosalie

The smell of chocolate cake baking makes me heady. My friend’s birthday is this weekend, and I’ve spent the evening whipping frothy egg whites, melting dark chocolate and licking my fingers.

The house is quiet, in that way houses get at the end of the day when everything is put in it’s place and children are asleep. Outside an orchestra of insects trill, and across the room The Piano soundtrack plays. I haven’t heard it since high school, when I loved it with a sort of moody passion. Finding it again, the same feeling rises up. The drama and cinematic artistry of the movie moved me to tears, and the music still manages to slip into the small open places in my soul, in a way that begs for solitude and intimacy both.

The past few days have been filled with sun drinking and wave kicking; long enough away from home to miss it. And it has also been one of those milestone weeks for Bean, who has taken to everything here with wide-eyed wonder: the lizards with their bright red throats, the delicate hibiscus, the sleek bellied otter, the ocean’s waves, the shells, the snakes, the endless sand.

I find myself staring at him (like I always seem to,) trying to mark in my head exact moments: the way he knelt on a big chair at the table, and ate couscous all by himself with a spoon last night; how he ran wildly, willfully, eagerly down the shore towards a flock of rosy-legged ibis today, carefree and confident that we would follow; or how tonight, getting ready for bed, he kept pressing his small palms to my lips for kisses, and then turned them so I could kiss the backs of his hands, and then his wrists and elbows. Over and over again he wanted this ceremony of affection, and over and over again I complied, my heart filling with a feeling beyond sweetness, beyond sorrow, beyond joy, but made up of all three.

I used to feel entirely one with him---the border between his self and mine, a mere distinction of skin. But now he has started to really become his own self---choosing to ignore me when I call him, fighting to do things without help, or asking for things with specificity and intention.

Each week, each month as a mother, it is necessary to learn a new choreography of love. And now in this dance there is a delicate space between us; space that he fills with his giddy twirling, his wild happy limbs, his smile, his troubled pensive frowns, and his many new words.

“Moon, mama!” he says now, pointing up at the sky. And there it is, the moon bright and clear, against the evening blue. I feel my heart skip a momentary beat in wonderment: he has just claimed the moon for his own, for the very first time.