Friday, October 17, 2008

Off-Roading It

Sunday presented us with beautiful Fall weather, so after my chores and errands were done, I packed up the kids and dog and headed for Hartwood Acres. I really wanted to test the performance of the BOB jogger, so we hit the trail that goes down to the horse stables. This was the first time the dog has been in those woods all year! To my dismay, Sheeks munched on some horse nuggets along the way.

I forgot how steep and rutted-out the path is down to the stables. This is something one doesn't notice when one isn't steering a 32-pound stroller full of 30 pounds of babies and trying not to slip on small rocks and roll on twigs in the process, all with an eager dog leading the way as well. There's a good reason the BOB has a hand strap for any possible runaway moments. It was an exhilarating trek, and we were rewarded at the bottom of the hill by one of the Clydesdales looking all cute and pastoral to greet us. We encountered another couple near the stables who looked at us askance as if to say, "You brought ALL that down THAT hill?" Why yes, indeed. We are crazy. Kai and Seda loved it despite their bobbing around.

After that, we moved on to the paved path. Pushing the aforementioned load up the long, not-so-steep hill back up to the mansion is quite a workout! Can't wait to do it again!

We are venturing out on a less than exciting trip today to Target. Whee!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Nurture and Nourish

Wednesday was a gray October day. There were bursts of yellow, orange and red scattered amongst the fading green of another summer gone by.

Earlier at work that day, I had heard someone say that on a dreary day they just want to go home and crawl into bed. I wonder why this is? In our part of the world that gets 4 distinct seasons, perhaps it is because Autumn is a time for bedding down, in preparation for the long sleep of winter, so we can waken refreshed again for Spring.

When the days darken, rather than turning in, I turn to my fond childhood memories of helping my dad build a fire, building couch forts with my brothers, playing board games in the family room, baking with my mother, donning musty ponchos and going on Sierra Club hikes, and sundry homey activities. These are the sorts of free fun things that nurture the spirit. I am soooooooo looking forward to recreating that life for my children!

Gray days also make me want to cook up a batch of chicken stock or bake bread. And nothing says homey like chicken stock simmering on the stove or bread baking and wafting throughout the house.

Tuesday when I retrieved Kai and Seda from my parents’ daycare, my mom had some chicken stew bubbling away in the oven. Wow, did that smell good! I returned home to my second bowl of vegetarian chili this week, accompanied by homemade corn muffins that I made on Sunday. The muffins were from the recipe on the box of cornmeal. When I bake, I measure. When I cook, I wing it, inventively. If it's good, I write it down so I can recreate it. Here is an estimation of the recipe:

Vegetarian Chili

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup diced onion
Half green bell pepper, diced
Half red bell pepper, diced
1 package Boca crumbles (3 packages come in a box) – could use reconstituted TVP instead, 1 cup dry? (textured vegetable protein)

2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp dried oregano
Few dashes of chipotle powder (optional)

1 15oz can dark red kidney beans, drained
1 15oz can black beans, drained
Half a bean can of water
1 28oz can diced tomatoes (I use Muir Glen fire-roasted)
2 Tbsp soy sauce

Saute until onion translucent. Add garlic and spices, stir, saute until fragrant.
Add remaining ingredients, stir, bring to simmer, turn down and cook on low for an hour or two.

Serve with cornbread or tortilla chips. Top with grated cheese if you like.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Twenty Tiny Toasty Toes

The furnace Last week, my furnace guy Ralph said a ceramic tube on the pilot assembly was cracked. Wednesday, he said he'd found the part. Yesterday, the living room was 59 degrees with no heat. We didn't really care, as we like it cool, and I bundled the babies up with pants and hooded sweaters over their sleepers. So this morning, Ralph came and finished the job and now we are cookin' at a balmy 65, which is how we like it.

Around 5pm yesterday, I built a fire, the first of the season. Hauled up two loads of firewood to outside the front door. Tons of spiders in the wood pile! Sadly, some met their maker in the inferno. I kept the home fires burning until we went to bed after enduring the VP debate. Anyone else have a headache after listening to HER? I was hoping for some implosion, but alas, she wasn't as bad as she could have been.

Today I'm doing some serious cleaning, or at least making some headway. I'm lucky Seda and Kai have long naps so I can get stuff done without feeling I'm ignoring them too much!

Right now, as I type, I'm looking out at the silvery sky above the field across the road. It is a watercolor gray, like Payne's Gray out of the paint box. There are twinges of color changes happening in the trees. I'm glad fall is here. I'm ready to go on more walks with the kids and dog now that the weather is cooler.

Yesterday I went to my first meetup event of Pittsburgh Hip Mama held at the Quiet Storm Coffeehouse in Friendship/Garfield. That place is always a favorite of mine. Met a couple nice moms of young babies, looking forward to more events with this group.