29 July 2009

The Great Outdoors

We went camping for the first time with Benny a few weeks ago. Although I had my reservations, Benny proved that he is, indeed, a mountain man. He loved hiking in the rocks, splashing in the stream, and exploring in general. We had to help him go to sleep, but it only took him about five minutes to let go of wakefulness. He slept much better than both Nate and me. We'll be going again when we have a free weekend.

26 July 2009

Happy 2nd Birthday, Mr. Bear!

TWO! Benny is two! We had a wonderful day. Complete with attending a birthday party for a friend in the morning and hosting a celebration for the Bear in the afternoon. The guest list:
Nana and Papa
Great Great Aunt Mary Anne and Uncle Jim
Lys, Carl, and Theo
Sara, Kirpal, and Sophie
Sam, John, and Avery
Adam, Pamela, and Jack
Nick and Aaron

20 July 2009

Book Review: The Namesake

I followed one good, easy read with another. The Namesake, by Pulitzer Prize winning author Jhumpa Lahiri, is a fantastic story about a kid who struggles with the name his Indian parents have given him. He is named after a Russian writer and doesn't understand the meaning behind his name. The story mostly follows his life, but also gives us a glimpse of how an immigrant Indian family makes its way in America and how the first generation its children largely shun the traditions their parents try to instill in their lives.

If I had more time to analyze the book, I may have some insightful comments. The best I can do after a 10-hour day, run, and 45 minutes at the park is to say that I liked the book. It was well written with a nice story. Lahiri's collection of short stories, The Interpreter of Maladies, is now on my list to read. It's the book for which she won the Pulitzer. My brother's girlfriend, whose parents immigrated to Canada from India, told me that many south Asians love her stuff. That amounts to a good recommendation.

19 July 2009

Le Jardin

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A bean plant, post-hail storm. We finished our lettuce today :(. Also finished for the season: arugula and radishes. But, we've been enjoying the first crops of cucumbers and green beans. And that's not to mention all of the fresh herbs we have. We're counting down the days until all of our tomatoes ripen at once! Heirlooms, cherries, and the early bird (which isn't so early after all).

First Day

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Pictures of Benny's first day of day care and my first day of work. We can't get this kid to look at the camera! But, he did look extra spiffy with his orange crocs and green plaid shirt.

14 July 2009

Just Par for the Course

This will be a quick update ... based on reader response ... my first day at work and Benny's first day at daycare went really well. I shouldn't be surprised. Benny has always been an easy-going kid. He doesn't seem to be ruffled by much. In fact, I think Carmen and Maria (his teachers) are surprised at how well he has adjusted so far. He's napping on a mat on the floor (I never, ever thought that would happen!). He's interacting with other kiddos.

And I surprised myself. I shouldn't be surprised that I can do this job. I mean, really, I write all of the time. And I write well. So grant writing will be a challenge, but a challenge that I'm certainly equipped to take on.

12 July 2009

Learning Curve

Summer is in full swing now. We're enjoying the first bounty from our garden: lettuce and arugula. Yummy yummy salad greens. Unfortunately, we're nearly finished with both crops. We did manage to consume both harvests without much bug destruction. The cucumbers seem to be next, along with more tomatoes than we'll ever be able to eat.

We've learned quite a bit about gardening in our first year as green thumbs. The first is to stagger planting. For example, if we had staggered the planting of our two rows of lettuce, we wouldn't feel like we need to eat massive salads every day for two weeks. Rather, we could eat medium-sized salads for a month. My garden goddess friend, Caley, was in town this weekend and taught us many tricks for gardening.

She also accompanied me on not one but two shopping excursions (the first was cut short by The Bear - he's not the best shopping companion). I spent a good chunk of change on a new work wardrobe because ... I'm starting my new job tomorrow! I've never owned sweater sets and slacks in my life. There's a first time for everything.

Benny and I will both be dealing with a learning curve tomorrow. It's his first full day of day care as well. Eek. I'm excited for both of us, but very nervous just the same. We may have a long period of adjustment in front of us!

05 July 2009

Corn Flour and Happy Accidents

My brother Luke and his girlfriend Aman are in town for the weekend. That means one thing: Experiencing my brother's amazing feats in the kitchen. That kid sure knows how to make some mean grub. He pulled out his tortilla press last night and fashioned up some homemade corn tortillas for fish tacos. They were perhaps the best fish tacos I have ever consumed (complete with marinated fish - thanks, Nate - fresh salsa - thanks, Aman - and cabbage). Nate and I are convinced that we need a tortilla press now too.

When it came to breakfast this morning, Nate and I planned to stick with something more traditional: eggs and pancakes. However, when we checked the pantry, we were out of flour. Here's the happy accident: We had plenty of corn flour leftover from last night's feast, so we thought, "Hey, why not make pancakes from cornflower." THEY. WERE. AMAZING. We are wondering how we've lived 30+ years without experiencing the yumminess of corn flour pancakes. Here's the recipe, if you're so inclined:

2 cups MASECA® corn masa flour
1 cup Sugar
4 Eggs
2 tsp. Baking powder
¼ cup (40gr.) Butter
1½ cups Milk

In a bowl, mix together MASECA, eggs, baking powder, sugar, butter, and milk; continue until all ingredients are well combined.

In a lightly greased skillet, cook each hot cake over medium heat on both sides for about one to two minutes or until ready.

Serve with butter, maple syrup, or marmalade of your choice.

01 July 2009

Book Review: Shopgirl

I broke a record reading this book. I picked it up last night around 9 p.m. and finished it by 5 p.m. this afternoon. I do have to give Benny some massive props for taking a three-hour nap today. That certainly helped.

by Steve Martin (yes, the comedian) was a nice breath of fresh air after the dense and not-too-interesting The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. Granted, Shopgirl is only 130 pages, so I can't really compare the two books in any way.

The book is set in early 2000 L.A. It focuses on Mirabelle, a 20-something artist who supports herself by working at the glove counter at Neiman's. By all accounts - her's included - she is not an interesting girl. She struggles with depression and immaturity. But she is beautiful and catches the eye of two men: Jeremy and Ray. Jeremy is a loser and Ray is a successful older man. She falls in love with Ray, but he is not looking for love. This is a story about Mirabelle maturing and plodding through a difficult time in her life. And I think Martin captures the frustrations of depression very well.

This novella is organized into short chapters that highlight the highlights of Mirabelle's life. It moves quickly. I won't divulge much of the plot because I would highly recommend reading this book. It's quick and entertaining. Shopgirl is also a movie (starring Steve Martin as Ray). I also remember thoroughly enjoying the movie.

Post-Race Photos

I've been meaning to post photos of the half-marathon, but we lost our battery charger and the batteries are dead. This photo is courtesy of Anne, my running buddy. On the left: Moss and Toby. Benny and Toby are good friends and hang out often together.