Friday, December 19, 2008


Rowan's finally at the age where the holidays really start to get fun. He's starstruck by Santa rather than terrified like last year and he has very specific gift requests so "Santa" is sure to hit a homerun this year. Granted, he has less patience for cookie-baking and it's a little harder to keep track of at the tree farm, but I'll never know exactly what the tree will look like from day to day (he's moved every single ornament within his reach at least three times in the week since we put it up!).

This weekend is our big Yule feast and it looks like its going to be a snowy one. Our first big storm hit today although I didn't have a chance to take any photos. Since getting our family dog, Elvis, it's a little much to juggle Rowan, dog-on-leash and a camera when we head outside. Not to mention the layers of clothing and other keeping-warm items. I've taken to bribing Rowan with hot cocoa and the dog with liver treats to get them back in the house after a long walk-about and play in the yard.

Speaking of bribing, Rowan locked me out of the house the other day. There I am, on the front porch in my socks and short-sleeves, covered in flour from bread-baking telling the neighbor where to find the old dresser we're passing on when I hear the "click" of our deadbolt behind me. When I peek in the front window, I'm met with an impish grin.

"Open the door for mama, honey!" I plead. "No, go away!" he giggled. The backdoor? I, of course, locked it behind me after bringing the dog in last. How thoughtful of me. How did I finally get in the house, you ask? I promised him gummy bears. That did the trick.

Let this be a lesson to all mamas: Keep a house key in your pocket (along with a tissue, a wipey, a diaper, a crayon, some lavendar oil and a scrap of paper) at all times.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Playing Catch-up

Tomorrow is Rowan's third Thanksgiving and it's about time I catch up with my three or four readers here. Since the Mmmm Mama blog has been languishing for the last two months, we've been enjoying every spare autumn moment. So much so that we never finished cleaning out our garden nor got our garlic in the ground for next year. And I certainly won't bore you with how messy the house looks. Oh well. What are the holidays for if not cleaning?

We're going to make a trip to Ritter's Cider Mill with Meme and Grampy an annual event from now on. In fact, we were going to have Rowan's birthday party there, but figured we'd save it until he's a little older and can invite a few of his friends to go with him.

Mmmm....picking apples!

There is nothing like fresh-squeezed, unpasturized apple cider from Ritter's.

Meme taught Rowan the real meaning of HAYrides and Grampy "benefited" from the lesson!

Is there anything we wouldn't do for our litle ones? From left to right, that's Meme, Grampy and Mama. Papa is taking the picture. You can't see if face, but Rowan was laughing hysterically! Totally worth it!

And then is was time for All Hallow's Eve. The carving of the gourd was a teeny bit more controlled this year as compared to last, but unique none-the-less.

Whoa Daddy, what is that stuff?!

Rowan knighted our pumpkin "Aberdeen" this year. We don't know why.

Since Rowan already considered himself a pirate, we thought we'd simply bring the delusion to life and dress him as the Dread Pirate Rowan for trick-or-treating. He looks somber here, but he had a ball raiding the neighbors' houses for candy.

Until next time....I'll try not to stay away so long.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Snuggily Two's

I don't know much about the Terrible Two's, but I know a ton about the Snuggily Two's. Papa and I are drinking in as much of this as possible while it lasts. We both know it won't be long until our hugs and kisses will embarrass the poor boy. Until then....snuggle on!

I have to admit, these pictures are from earlier in October. I've been out of the loop a bit with my blog working like a mad woman on a huge fundraising event in NYC for the Rodale Institute (the non-profit for which I slave). The event was titled "Ripe for Revolution," but I'm feeling overripe these days. Squishy, soggy and covered in fruit flies! It is only the smile of a certain little bear that makes my heart soar and my supermama powers get all zingy and electrified. could anyone resist....

Here he is as "Incredi-Boy" in the park.

I'm afraid my lovely little son is addicted to "MOVIES!" (in caps to represent how loudly he requests one). With his personality and charisma, I wouldn't be surprised if he ended up as a movie star himself....or a producer. Who knows. Until then, he's going to have to deal with the TV(and movie)-time limits the mama and the papa (well, mostly the mama) impose. Although, it really is hard to resist those big blue eyes.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Two today

Happy Birthday my darling little bear.....

Monday, October 6, 2008

Putting up

I've been meaning to get this particular entry up for weeks now. We've picked, preserved, stewed, frozen and pickled some more over the last month. We're very far from ever putting up enough to tide us over until spring, but there is something comforting about having so much garden goodness glistening in jars and bags. There is something about the ritual that brings the summer to a sweet close and welcomes the fall in all it's warm (inside) and spicy crispness (outside).

Dad Evan's dill pickle recipe.

Elderberry currant apple preserves.
(I've missed the annual jelly-making activities at my mother's house the last few years. This year, she brought the whole process to mine. Berries picked by my father, juiced by my mother, and preserved by me.)

Tomatoes, garlic, leeks, basil, rosemary, and oregano
just waiting to be turned into sauce and jarred up.

This truly is my favorite time of year. The month of our marriage...the month of our first born. Today, in fact, is our anniversary and next week is the litte bear's second birthday. So much seems to begin in October, I can't help but celebrate. Autumn blessings to you all!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


So Rowan thinks he's a pirate. I'm not sure where the obsession originated, but we've managed to unintentionally encourage it. Okay, so it's been somewhat intentional. It's just incredibly adorable to hear him say, "Yo, ho, ho and a bottle of juice!" Or tell the old ladies in the gift shop down the shore to "Walk the plank!"

As a result, he's been searching high and low for "pirate booty" (his exact words--where does he get this stuff?). You never know what might be considered treasure these days. Some of his favorites include an egg-like stone, a collection of snail shells and a bluejay feather. The bluejay feather was his first gift from the sky. Found on a quiet walk through the woods with mama a few weeks ago. Papa has a talent for attracting feather gifts as well, so I'm not surprised my eagle-eyed son has begun to express the same.

I also suspect one of the new earings my mother gave me may have been pirated, but I have yet to discover where it's been buried.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Seaside, book II

Despite Rowan's beach bum temperament, Mama's delicate skin and aversion to sunburn and sweat meant many hours spent enjoying each other's company away from the sand and sea. In fact, we all found a lovely bit of solace tucked under the dappled shade and hidden in the damp mossy crevises of Brookgreen Gardens.

When what should we hear as we come out from under a canopy of old oaks but Rowan's excited voice saying, "Look. Giant ba-ba's!"

And, of course, there were rides. Papa might be highly allergic to the teacups, but they were by-far Rowan's favorites.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Seaside, book I

Sunset Beach, NC. August 16-25, 2008: We were invited to spend a week with friends at the beach this summer. Three families, three kids (1-3) and one in the oven. We rented a house half a block from the beach on a quiet island just off the coast. It was lovely!

I say our house was only half a block from the beach, but I neglect to mention the boardwalk that is nearly three blocks long from the beach access to the actual beach. I still hold that this gorgeous path among the dunes doesn't count due entirely to the enjoyment we all had padding back and forth on it's well-worn wood.

A lesson in ocean etiquette from mamma. That hat didn't stay on long. In fact, within the first 15 minutes in the water Rowan was laying down and putting his head under. Turns out he's a natural beach bum!

Low tide revealed a small sand bar just a few yards out. The waves tumbled on the rise and created a calm wading pool just perfect for Rowan and Mama to play.

Like father, like son...they have the exact same stride!

Saturday, September 6, 2008


There is a white wraught iron, glass-topped table on my side of the bed. It's old, with sharp corners and glass chipped from years on my parent's back porch. It used to sit in our living room until the little bear found his way into this world. As heavy things and sharp things, things too big and things too small all made their way into the attic, I couldn't bear to see this one item stored away. Here are some fragments that I currently keep on my bedside table...

The scent of cinnamon, strong and heady, from a lovely cinnamon wood canister. About $17.68. "Wonder Lands" by Bryna Untemeyer. "Jesus and the Lost Goddess" by Timothy Freke, Peter Gandy. "In Defense of Food" by Michael Pollan. "Twilight" by Stephanie Meyer. One diaper, size four. Sesame Street towel from 1978. Small basket with four jars of scented oils (orange, pine, lavendar, fresh linen).

Yes...I promise pictures very, very soon.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Falling off the wagon

I may be hanging from one finger, legs dangling, off the side of the blog wagon. I had the same problem with the five million diaries I tried to keep when I was growing up. Oh, I always had the best of intentions. And it went well for a while. Then life got in the way.

Not only did a start a blog this summer, but I also planned to crochet six scarves (winter holiday gifts), sew two art smocks for Rowan, and finally get to ripping out the jungle of weeds threatening to take over our front porch. Um...what was I thinking? I think I'm a domestic goddess stuck in a working mother's body!

So, let me lighten my load and remind myself this is not a chore. Nor is it a burden. I will blog when I can and leave the rest to fate.

July and August have been full, full, full. We spent a long weekend at the lake with Meme and Grampy and went boating with Pop-pop and Grandma. Fished, foraged for blueberries, roasted marshmallows, the usual. Next week we're off to the very southern coastal waters of North Carolina for a week with a few other families. I won't promise I'll write soon, but I'll try. I'm sure I'll have tons of great pics from the beach. In the meantime, here are some shots from the lake....

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Mama Moment

I've been thinking alot about "little" moments lately. Those sweet sips of pure enjoyment when you feel completely centered. I wrote a little bit about touchstones last month, and those are sometimes made up of little moments. But, sometimes, little moments don’t have big meaning. Sometimes, they just allow you to be absolutely truly you for a little moment in time. How comforting.

For some reason, I’m always caught off guard by the little moments, which, I suppose, says something sad about how I usually function. I think I’m in good company, though. There are few who have the awareness or the freedom to live within those little moments more often than not. And so, I take especial pleasure when they sneak up on me.

Tonight Rowan and I escaped to his nursery an hour before bedtime. The trip was inspired by three temper tantrums in a row. I opted for the lamp, left the overhead light off, and put one of my old 35’s on the record player. We read along (Lady and the Tramp—he’s currently obsessed with the movie), danced (The Owl and the Pussycat), giggled (Puff the Magic Dragon), and acted silly (Micky Mouse’s Farmyard).

We read Kiss Goodnight and then tip-toed downstairs to say goodnight to Papa. Hmmm…that may have been a mistake since another temper tantrum ensued. So, Mama sat in the rocking chair and Rowan lay prone on the floor while I read a collection of classic songs and nursery rhymes. Eventually, I felt a hand on my knee and heard a little voice say, “Up, Mama.” We snuggled and read two more nursery rhymes before bed (Three Little Kittens and Row, Row, Row Your Boat).

Rowan has been so good with bedtime lately. I got a big bear hug and then he lay down quietly in his crib. He asked for the “moon song” and Mama sang him to sleep.

As I closed his door behind me, I indulged a wicked, satisfied smile. Ah…a little moment of contentment and it was good.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008're it!

So, I've been tagged by my friend Alison. (We met in Bradley classes and, happily, have kept in touch ever since.) Since I'm a sucker for these things when they come through email, it only follows that I wouldn't be able to resist the blog-o-sphere version either. Everything you wanted to know about me in 6 questions:

What were you doing 10 years ago?
Graduating from Susquehanna University and looking for a job after a semester abroad and a month of independent travel. Despite being terribly homesick, adjusting to life back in the States was more difficult than I ever expected.

Five items on my "to do" list:
1. Pay the bills
2. Email assorted friends
3. Clean the bathroom
4. Pick peas
5. Make art smock for Rowan

Snacks I enjoy:
Toast with jam
Annie's Cheddar Bunnies

What would you do if you were a billionaire?
Stay home and give Rowan a sibling!

Places I would live:
Lake Ariel, PA

Jobs I have had:
assorted waitress jobs

Bloggers I am tagging:
Jennifer (Tales from the To-Be-Read Pile)
Jackie (Onward)

{The rules of the game: Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.}

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Mmmm pizza

Rowan has "gym" class every Saturday, after which we usually run some errands and head home. Today we stopped for real Mexican at La Placita on 12th and Turner in Allentown--two corn tortillas dipped in chili-spiked pork fat, warmed on the grill and stuffed with crispy-juicy-spicy chicken. Flecked with cilantro and soft onions, they are divine. The dried beef version rocked my tummy, too. We had a sloppy-yummy side of refried beans sprinkled liberally with queso fresco, too, but they were too hard to eat in the car, so they await us in the fridge.

Then, a trip to Klein’s dairy for raw milk and the best ricotta cheese I’ve ever tasted. According to Lane, most ricotta is made from the whey left over from making mozzarella. They, instead, start with fresh, whole milk. It makes all the difference. It is not just an ingredient, but should really be eaten on its own, or simply dressed with a few drops of rich, golden honey.

Homemade pizza on the grill for dinner paid homage to the gorgeous dairy products. Extra thin crust that snaps when you bite it, too.

Our peas are coming in like gangbusters despite the wicked heat.

All this excitement followed by a nap in the tunnel.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


There are certain people, memories, situations that remind you to step outside of whatever is dragging you down and remember who you are at your center, what is important, and why you really are happy. They can be friends, strangers, a passing moment, spiritual words, a glint of sunlight, smells, sounds…anything. What they have in common is the ability to stop you in your tracks and bring perfect clarity. I like to call them touchstones. Thank you, my collection of touchstones.

So, a few of the blogs I read have been doing this “what I’m loving right now” entry. Figured I’d throw on my lamb outfit and follow along. I was tempted to do a "what I'm hating right now" just to be difficult, but I'm in too good a mood. Here’s what I’m loving right now…

1. Chantaine Royal Fig Deluxe Preserves

2. Cool mornings down by the river

3. Cherries

4. Indian paintbrushes

5. Froggy rain gear

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Kitchen djini

Rowan found a djini in the kitchen.

We uncovered a battered tin-topped table in the basement when we moved into our house. My mother and I "rescued" it from the trash pile to which it was bound and gave it a proper amateur refinish, leaving the character and charm of the dents and dings and intact. It now resides in our kitchen and functions as additional counter space when I bake.

As I washed the dishes the other day, Rowan discovered the stem end of our hand mixer beater fit perfectly in one of the unique holes in the wood. He persistently attempted to use the beater as a key to the accidental keyhole. Every so often he peered into the hole with one eye. All these machinations were punctuated by occasional demands spoken with authority and gusto (into the hole, of course). I can't tell you exactly what he was saying, for he was speaking in a tongue known only to children, djinis and other magical creatures. I did catch the word "out" a few times and asked him what he was doing. He, again, spoke a long string of works with conviction and wide-eyed seriousness, directed at me this time in answer to my query.

Apparently there was djini living in the table and he was trying to let him out. I can't say whether or not he succeeded. But, every so often, when I stroll through the kitchen, there is a beater sticking out of that hole in the table.

Maybe the djini was after the late-night oatmeal pecan cookies mama baked. I'm not sure what possessed me to begin not one, but two baking projects at 10:30pm last Thursday.

The warm rhubarb bars and aforementioned cookies were cooling on racks at 1:30am Friday and mama tumbled into bed at 1:35am. I'm sorry to say the rhubarb bars weren't worth the trouble. (All the beautiful rhubarb, ruined!) But the oatmeal cookies were. If you're ever feeling peckish late at night, or trying to lure a djini from under a tin table, these will do the trick...

Brown Sugar Oatmeal Cookies (adapted from the Joy of Cooking)

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 pound unsalted butter (2 sticks)
1-3/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
2-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3-1/2 cups oatmeal
1 cup crushed pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Whisk first six ingredients in large bowl. In stand mixer, beat on medium until well blended the butter, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla. Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture just until combined. Gently stir in the crushed pecans and oatmeal. Drop heaping tablespoons of cookie dough onto lined sheets (about 3 incheds apart) and bake until golden brown and just set. The Joy of Cooking says 6-9 minutes, but mine always take 9-12 minutes. Remove when cookies look ready (and smell heavenly) and let cool on sheet for 5 minutes. Tranfer to wire racks or consume immediately. I can never seem to wait for that first taste, but these cookies are much better fully cooled and lined up beside a big mug of coffee.

Papa Bear

Daddyhood....the first moments remembered. Comparing "paws," telling tales, taking care of the mama bear. Watching your husband grow into a wise father is one of the greatest blessing and I am thankful. Happy Father's all the papa bears out there.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Eat food, mostly plants, not too much

Yes, I'm reading Michael Pollen’s In Defense of Food (just like everyone else and their brother). My opinion so far? It's repetitive and full of common sense "revelations" I'm pretty sure I didn't need Mr. Pollen to explain. I haven't quite figured what all the fuss is about, but, then again, I'm only 1/2 way through. His message is a good one, though, for folks that haven't thought much about what passes their lips. But, I have to wonder, are those the folks reading Pollen’s manifesto? The more information out there the better, I sing on are the sweetheart of the choir. One question: Where can I get a refrigerator with an extra-large crisper drawer?

I managed to steal away some private gardening time yesterday. The sun was warm (but not searing), the breeze was a cool whisper, and the boys were at the lake soaking away their daycare germs and workday worries. It felt good to do some good work. Look...I have proof...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Hot orange juice

The heat is overwhelming on the East coast and its only mid-June. There are a few reasons I live in Northeast Pennsylvania and one of them is the supposed absence of endless, sticky days, when the sun is like hot orange juice that has begun to dry on your skin and the earth feels like she's holding her breath. I'm wilting, like our vegetable plants we've yet to get in the garden. Rowan is cranky. Mama's cranky. Papa's cranky. Luckily, we've managed to squeeze a few moments of laughter out of these drenching days...usually before 10am or after 4pm. I'm a firm believer in siestas, in general, and when the sun hits its peak, I would opt for a nice long nap in a breezy, shady corner of the yard. When I say nap, I do mean more of a rest. I’m not usually much of a napper, but a moment in which I can appreciate the intricate details of a spent seed pod from our maple tree or the serpentine movement of ladybug larvae is always welcome. Today I spent the minutes between 11:33 and 12:16 memorizing the crests and valleys of Rowan’s sleeping toddler face.

We didn't make it to the lake today, but we did spend both Saturday and Sunday afternoon submerged. By Sunday, Rowan was putting his face in the water himself. He also picked up two adorable mermaids—young, French, raven-haired sirens who were smitten with his approach (that would be to get real close and stare). I’d guess the elder at 6 years of age and the younger at 3 or 4. He, of course, preferred the older woman. Until Mama found a snail…then the girls were quickly forgotten. I can’t imagine that will last long.

Reports were calling for apocalyptic thunder, lightning, high winds and hail around dinner time, so we cooked in tonight. Our rosemary chicken which sounded so refreshing on the grill, roasted in the oven at 375 degrees F after a nice sear stove-top. I wouldn't be surprised if our kitchen reached just about that temperature by the time we sat down to dine. Mama wanted lemon-scented barley, but Rowan demanded "noo-noos" so whole wheat rotini it was. Papa topped it with a quick homemade tomato sauce that included lots of fresh herbs. Rowan’s review: “Mmmm….nummy noo-noos.” Also heard at the dinner table this evening, “BOCCLI! BOCCLI!” This from the broccoli monster that visited despite the heat...

We listened to the thunder rolling in the distance when we toured the garden after dinner, but we’ve yet to witness lightening, rain or hail, thank goodness. The temperature has dropped to a comfortable 74 degrees F, though, and a full breeze is tickling the curtains. I think it’s time to enjoy said breeze from my bed. Shade and sweet water…..

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Tuesdays with Mama

Tuesdays I work from home. That means I work into the wee hours Monday night and into the wee hours Tuesday night so I can spend my Tues-day with the little bear. We try to make the most of it....gardening, baking, swinging, exploring. This is Rowan's garden. He digs, he buries, he moves dirt from here to there.

Today he discovered the wonders of thyme. We watered the thyme. We smelled the thyme. "Mmmm," he said. So we tasted the thyme. He asked for seconds and devoured the wooly stem promptly.

We also made sun tea. Green sun tea at Papa's request. After three glasses, he confessed he had a milkshake and cheeseburger on his way home from work. Luckily, the tea was a tasty penance.

We wrapped up a thoroughly delicous day with breakmaking--no-knead style. I'm proud to admit I haven't purchased a loaf of bread since December '07. Rowan prefers it raw and requests for "dough" are ceaseless.

Monday, June 2, 2008


Motherhood brought with it so many overwhelming emotions that words seemed so inadequate. I haven't yet been able to write about the experience of pregnancy, birth and baby-raising although I think and dream an awful lot of poetry. Rowan is 19 months old already and sometimes I wonder if I'll ever be able to properly express the wildly chaotic, deeply centering, full-tilt juiciness that is mama-hood. In the meantime, here are some simple words on nursing. In memory of those moments of which he's taking less and less...

I drink my mama's milk.
It's warm and sweet and good.
I snuggle in and latch right on.
There is no better food.
I pat her chest so soft and look into her eyes.
I know that I am loved with mama's milk inside.