Jaded Optimist

Mothering, making, and generally blathering on

December…getting it done December 21, 2014

Filed under: Family,Kids,knitting — bonniep @ 11:19 am

No baking. Except cookies for C’s recital, which she missed due to a bad cold (when the kid comes home from school and takes a 6 hour nap…you don’t wake her up for her recital!) which have made it to a few neighbors.

And this sweater I finished over the fall…it is a lot of sweater. Maybe even too heavy for wearing.


M made a reindeer at “exploring science” night. No matter what the theme, my kids can find the craft table!

M got out the nutcrackers to “play with” and of course baby C wanted in. Maybe a few will last until next season?


But probably not the Clara one that baby C is holding.

Speaking of which a certain “baby” is turning 2 in a few days! What??? We have practiced some present opening and I think she is ready.


We visited a great Santa during brunch at one of our favorite restaurants (Preservation Kitchen) and the one who believes and wasn’t crying was pretty excited to be there. The older one not so much, but she played along. The younger one was carried screaming out of the place. Please forgive her Santa.

I believe the shopping is done and a last few gifts were finished yesterday. Christmas Holiday cards are ordered and should go out shortly. Just one 6 am flight with a 2 year old to manage….Christmas spirits for everyone!


Er, November? December 11, 2014

Filed under: Family,Kids,knitting — bonniep @ 12:50 am

Baby C has been having a grand old time lately. After months of barely speaking words, she has started trying to say everything…my current favorites are her renditions of armadillo, meatball, and her santa “ho ho ho”. She has also made up her own sign for blankie. The only color she can name is yellow, and it applies to everything. She has a fearsome “roar” for lion, and abbreviated trunk swing and squeak for elephant, and likes to spend story hour at the library pointing to all the other kids and squealing “baby!”

Unfortunately, my great sleeper has fallen off the wagon and G and I have the dark eye circles and grumpy mornings to prove it. At least her nap refusal phase seems to have passed (hard to deal with if you are used to a four hour baby free block every afternoon)! She has also gotten much friendlier and gives lots of hugs and kisses at bedtime.

Baby C attended her first birthday party where she seemed to know at least some of what was going on. I pushed her into an old outfit of big C’s and she wore it well…


You might be able to see some other current interests, such as a bones necklace which has stuck around after Halloween and her ability to drag a chair over to the kitchen computer and then demand “Da!” which is “dance”—she loves the YouTube.

This Thanksgiving was possibly my most chill…yes, it required 3 nights of cooking before Thanksgiving and essentially the whole day of, but I had everything in the oven on time and most of the prep dishes cleaned well in advance of dinner being served. Potato and Leek Casserole from MSL was a huge hit, a new to me riff on pumpkin pie, who can say no to adding chocolate and bourbon to pecan pie?, and I made my own seitan roast. Rounded out with veggie miso gravy and vanilla bean ice cream, and dishes brought by guests. The only flop was pumpkin rolls, but overall the meal went well.

G’s cousin W was able to visit for a long weekend over Thanksgiving and we dragged him out downtown for some fun kid-style. The aquarium was a great choice (baby C could actually see stuff!) and Santa was diving that day.


We also did our annual post-Thanksgiving Fremont trip—vegetarian brunch, Fremont Troll visits, and boutique shopping.


(With some below freezing temperatures G and W were able to try out some handknit hats and big C was rocking her fingerless mitts!)

And then suddenly it was December and we are scrambling to get ready for the holidays! Some unplanned bumps in the road (baby C dislocated her elbow, a bug infestation false alarm) and a busier social schedule than usual haven’t helped. Which is to say, the annual Christmas plate of cookies that I give to neighbors is in danger of getting scrapped this year. We’ll see. I am about 75% done with present shopping, still have some present making to do…we don’t have outdoor lights up….we have a tree but it isn’t decorated yet. Oy, the New Years cards aren’t even close to done. Yikes. December fail over here.



Easter April 21, 2014

Filed under: Baking,Family,Kids,knitting — bonniep @ 10:28 pm

Easter is one of the major neighborhood holidays (an ever increasing list) and expanded this year from just being a group egg hunt and driveway brunch to an afternoon goat roasting. As the lone vegetarian in the neighborhood I brought an enormous couscous salad. Apparently the goat didn’t go so well so I didn’t miss out (although M happily ate her goat with some ketchup).

Anyway, Easter. There is the egg coloring.



C likes to make hers look like people, well, babies. Causing conversations like “You can eat my eggs but not the babies!” “C, you can eat your own babies.” We did 30-1 eggs (1 lost to cracking in the pot and sacrificed to baby C’s lunch). Fun for everyone but I think next year I will hide the glitter now included in the Paas sets. There is a tiny smattering of glitter everywhere and it reappears no matter how much wiping and sweeping I do.

Easter morning there is a neighborhood egg hunt.



Action shots! While the kids are hunting eggs, the adults are eating breakfast in a driveway and chugging coffee. This year I made a sour cream coffee cake with chocolate cinnamon swirl and rhubarb ginger scones.



Someone made bacon, so baby C has been inducted into the club. As she plowed through G’s plate of bacon I said “Well, she is definitely your daughter!” and then had to awkwardly state that of course there was never any doubt about whose daughter she was, ha ha ha!


Oh, cute sweater on that baby? Thanks! Knit it last summer and finally sewed the buttons on…yesterday. Thank goodness it still fits. You can tell she loves mommy-made as much as the other girls.




Pie throwdown and more November 24, 2013

Filed under: Baking,Kids,knitting — bonniep @ 10:42 pm

Baby C turned 11 months old today, but more importantly I made pie and people came over to eat it. Over the past however many years, I have been on a quest to find the best pumpkins for making pumpkin pie. Sugar pie pumpkins are the ones most often seen in stores—they look like little jack o lantern type pumpkins. I discovered Long Island cheese pumpkins at a local specialty market (Central Market, which is Whole Foods-esque) a few years ago—they are wide, flat, and peachy colored with almost neon orange flesh. And last year we tried Winter Luxury pie pumpkins from a local pumpkin patch/corn maze—they look like regular pumpkins covered in a beige lace and are fairly yellow of flesh. But never have we tried all of them at the same time.

So today I cooked five pies, using exactly the same recipe for each (a hybrid of three recipes I found online) and frozen crusts (Marie Callendar, I am not crazy enough to make that much crust. Also, not good enough at making crust). One pie used Libby’s solid pack pumpkin (which I understand is a special hybrid unique to the Libby’s company but similar to butternut squash), and three more used the various pumpkins mentioned above. Earlier in the week I had roasted each one, pureed the flesh, and left it to drain in a cheesecloth lined strainer. The fifth pie was a combination of all the leftover fillings from the first four pies.

I ran into a few issues trying to cook multiple pies at once which could account for some differences in looks. In general the self-roasted pumpkin pies cook longer, probably due to extra moisture in the pumpkin. I wouldn’t say that the spice mix I used was that great—a little bland. And I realized far too late that I had forgotten to include salt in all the pies, which could have made a huge difference.

Anyway, five pies made and labeled A – E, we had about 30 people over to the house to taste test and vote on the pies. Voting was taken fairly seriously and many made the effort to sample all five pies. Votes were 1-5 for taste, texture, looks, and overall and were tallied by software engineer and finance guests. Sadly, G did not save the file with the final results and I am a bit too tired to recompile them all now. Might redo the work later though.



A=Libby’s solid pack pumpkin, B=sugar pie pumpkin, C=hybrid (a little of each), D=long island cheese pumpkin, E=winter luxury pie pumpkin

As one who spends hours many years roasting and pureeing pumpkins I was quite prejudiced against the Libby’s and going into it would have said the Luxury Pie pumpkin would be the best. However I feared that the familiar taste of the Libby’s would garner many votes. Without the scores in front of me I can’t report exacts, but the overall winner was C, the pie made with a combination of the leftover fillings from the other four pies. I guess the whole is better than the sum of its parts? A, the canned pumpkin and D the long island cheese pumpkin were close. The solid loser was B, the sugar pie pumpkin. No need to buy those anymore (actually I had given up on those a while back but for completeness felt it necessary to include it here!) I will say that every pie had some folks that loved it and some that hated it (OK, noone fully loved B).

So, that was fun. I still need to decide what to make for Thanksgiving dinner—to be honest, I have about six pies worth of frozen puree left to work through!


Speaking of pumpkins…I found the photos that I had been looking for of big C behind the pumpkin wheelbarrow.

078pumpkincarvingplus 164

The more things change…

And little C turned 11 months old today, but I haven’t done the formal photos yet (see: pie baking). You can tell she is quite upset.


So, hopefully more soon! (New knit hat, and lots of other knitting and sewing happening here…)


8 (and a half) Months September 8, 2013

Filed under: Kids,knitting — bonniep @ 9:59 pm

Kind of missed that 8 month update due to being in Cleveland when the actual date hit and then back to school craziness, plus my blog going down for several days. Rest assured, baby C is still around and doing her best to spread smiles and joy.


Ha ha, just kidding she loves these sisters.


Let’s see….blue eyes, chewing on stuff, and baby yoga?


Check, check and check.

Getting very good at sitting?


Likes cats, both birthday and otherwise?


OK, you can’t really tell but in the last picture she is looking at Boston, not at the camera. Boston will in fact walk up to C, rub up against her, let her pull ears, tail, etc. and practice “gentle” petting for quite awhile before giving her a gentle nibble. They are getting to be quite good friends.

So, baby C is eating like a champ—some small finger foods (cut up peach, nectarine, banana, cooked carrots, puffs, cheerios, and during one desperate vacation dinner, torn up bits of tater tots) and purees galore. She babbles quite convincingly and likes to have you babble back. Still doing some great sleeping, although there was some adjustment around the traveling. Grabs for everything and puts it in her mouth. Not so fun for, say, a four hour plane ride. Or during diaper changes. No teeth yet. Was kind of skinny and tall at her 6 month checkup but has been filling out nicely. Smiles and then buries her head for anyone looking her way. Rolls over both ways and can get around surprisingly well given that there is still no sign of crawling—one her stomach she does more of a superman attempt and then cries in frustration. Must be that diaper full of kryptonite! Has figured out how to touch the feely books and how to turn pages in general.

Oh, and I knit a dress for baby C before she was born…it kept looking huge. I finally remembered to put it on her. So not huge.


But she can totally rock the tunic look, am I right?


Didn’t you use to make stuff? June 2, 2013

Filed under: Garden,knitting,Personal,photography,Sewing — bonniep @ 10:41 pm

Right. I do still make stuff. Really.


Pink sweater with kitty buttons. Put on several times but never makes it past breakfast, has never actually been worn to school. The blue sweater from the same pattern I think has not even been put on. Sigh.


Rainbow polkadot Ayashe blouse. With the perfect skirt from Land’s End! This has been worn a few times. Unfortunately the neck is quite tight (there are no fastenings, just that opening slit) and the way it is constructed you can’t find that out about the neck until it is too late to fix without literally ripping apart the entire blouse. The bottom of the slit popped a few stitches on first wearing but I think will make it through after I put some reinforcing stitching on there. I made this blouse after making a larger one for C in a gorgeous floral fabric; sadly, it was too small (although too large for M) but has been passed along to a neighbor.


Tiny tea leaves cardigan. Has never been worn outside of the house. Took forever, mostly because the sleeves were too short and I had to unpick all the garter stitch cuff and reknit the sleeves longer. I think the impasse here is with the wide neck. It was meant to go with C’s cardigan from the same pattern, which doesn’t seem to have as wide of a neck, but which also has gotten a bit small for C.

Plus, why would you be wearing sweaters when you could be wearing this?


(She is “walking like an Egyptian” here.)

C is finally able to wear a blouse and pants I made her ages ago; she is quite skinny so ill fitting waists are a problem.


They are supposed to be cropped pants, although perhaps not quite that cropped. This outfit has been worn a few times.

I used to take pictures too. I wandered the yard today with my macro lens on….



Got totally distracted by those strawberries though as I hadn’t realized we had a harvest already. The slugs realized obviously.


That was the biggest one…didn’t measure (and five girls in the yard made short work of that harvest) but maybe 2.5” across? It was a monster berry!


We left two peaches and two plums on the fruit trees (otherwise pinched back to encourage growth this year) and they seem to be doing well.

Well, back to the trenches. G has been out of town for 4 days and still a few more to go. I had a long list of projects that I thought I would get accomplished in his absence, a bit over ambitious. Where by “a bit” I mean completely insane.


8 months of shopping days left until Christmas! April 24, 2013

Filed under: Kids,knitting,photography — bonniep @ 9:54 pm

Since Baby C was born on Christmas Eve I think I will constantly be aware of how long until Christmas this year. Today she turned 4 months old! No stats yet (we visit the pediatrician on Monday in concert with M’s 5 year appointment) but this baby is S.O.L.I.D.


So far so good with the 3-6 months clothes but I am certainly not buying any more, and I had to get a new round of bigger cloth diapers due to a small case of plumber’s crack.

This month baby C has made good friends with her hands (so fascinating!), some chewable toys (or even handy clean kid underwear if one were to, say, prop her up on clean laundry while folding…), her tongue, and in the last few days her adorable feet!



She also had her first big tub bath (um, with “help” from two sisters who are convinced that the baby wants lots of toys and noise at all times) and turns out to be one slippery kid! She does like standing with lots of support and seems to be getting good head control, but rolling over—either way—is far from her mind.

Days are spent trying to distract her during tummy time…


sacking out in the swing…


(first picture there is some vigorous thumb sucking, but I could not catch it on camera well) and going for walks.


(It was almost 70 today and during the actual walk there was a blanket on her, so no worries about cold feet please.)

Finally got her in a sweater that I 95% made last summer, finally crocheted internal ties on this winter, and sewed the one button on last week. Just in time too.


Some struggles on the photo shoots today as she just wanted to be chewing on her hands, toys, or failing those, her dress.



Then there is always the problem of not being able to actually sit up yet.


And the risk of hat malfunction.


Or just plain crankiness.


But I think we got some good ones.



This is one (mostly) happy, easy going baby. Goes to bed pretty easily and sleeps a long time (knock on wood), tolerates her sisters, gets dragged to every lesson and put in and out of the car, stroller, baby carrier, whatever multiple times with nary a complaint. She might have, and we don’t like to mention it, a bit of a drooling problem. Which causes a neck rash problem. But overall, we lucked out with this baby and just snuggle her up every chance we get!