Wednesday, December 31, 2008


(Here is the xmas letter I never got around to sending!)

I don’t know that we really need to write about what happened in our lives in 2008 because it pales in comparison to this country electing BARACK OBAMA for president. Oh, that feels so good to write and say! Politics aside, we have once again been blessed with another year of health, growth, travel, beginnings and endings.
Quinn and Logan finished elementary school and are in their first year of middle school (6th grade.) We are continuing to enjoy the relative peace and calm that we’ve mostly enjoyed, but know that any day now, those pubescent hormones will be express delivered and we’ll be navigating in the dark. Or maybe not. We’ll see.
It has been another year filled with fencing tournaments and ballet recitals, with the difference being that it was taken up a notch from years past. The boys competed in two national fencing tournaments this past year, one in Portland and the other in San Jose, CA. They were both annihilated at the first competition in Portland, but rather than walk away defeated and threaten to quit, they dug in and ended up attending an intensive fencing camp to better prepare and train them for San Jose. It paid off and Logan did exceedingly well placing 26th out of more than 100 competitors in his age group. It was a thrill to watch. Quinn didn’t fare as well, but still had a commendable showing. He was clearly distracted during the tournament as he knew that the next day he’d be boarding a plane for Philadelphia to attend a 4-week ballet summer intensive.
With the fencing tournament behind them, Logan and Quinn both left on their own for a four-week stint on the east coast for ballet. Jim and I had mixed emotions sending them off. Of course, we were so proud of their accomplishments and excited for all they’d learn in Philadelphia, but we were also sad knowing that our parental leashes had just stretched to a new level. The boys had a wonderful, tiring, intensive time in Philadelphia at The Rock ballet school, and it was really something to see how much they had grown and matured while away.
With Quinn and Logan already on the east coast, Jim and I flew out after their ballet camp had ended and drove down to one of our favorite places: The Outer Banks in North Carolina. Here we camped for a week and body surfed and relaxed. We were joined by some dear friends and family, and it made our week all the more enjoyable.
We enjoyed having 17 family members here for thanksgiving and this year it was all the more special as Logan and Quinn’s ballet school held their performance of the Nutcracker over thanksgiving weekend, so most everyone was able to be here to watch us all perform (yes, Jim and I once again donned wigs and ascots and played the role of the party scene parents.)
We were saddened to lose Tamara’s grandmother mid-December, but her passing was on her own terms, so it made the loss a little more bearable. The boys will miss her dearly as we have spent a lot of weekends with her and Grandpa Ralph over the past eleven years. She taught the boys how to play dominoes, taught them some ballet, and shared with us many wonderful stories. We spent Christmas eve home and enjoyed a quiet evening and then drove to be with Grandpa Ralph on Christmas day. We had a lovely and relaxing time with him for the holiday. We are now looking forward to the new year and wish all the best for you and your loved ones. Our family website is still active, so feel free to log on for photos and updates at

Happy New Year!
Jim, Tamara, Logan & Quinn

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Oops, this picture is not oriented the correct way, but you get the idea. It's cold. We are having true winter weather here in the Pacific Northwest, which while beautiful and novel, is also a total pain in the ass. The problem? This town shuts down. School has been out for two days, business are shuttered and people don't know how to drive in snow and ice (hint: just because you own a 4-wheel drive doesn't mean you can bomb down hill on ice.) I laugh recalling winters of my youth: Three to five feet of snow all winter long, snow blowers, moon boots...We never had "snow days" or excuses not to go to work or school. When you lived in the mountains, you expected a winter wonderland from November to March, and you just went along like normal. Here, even the threat of snow, sends people into a panic. Oh well. It is lovely, the kids are having a blast, and life is good even though the weather outside is frightful...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Yummy Mummy's kitchen

I admit that I'm two timing. And as most two-timers know, it ain't easy. I've kept up our family website for a few years through our mac account, and while that has served me well, it is becoming too S-L-O-W for regular updates. Hence this new blog site. So rather than migrate all my old posts and recipes from the Yummy Mummy pages here, I'll just give you the link so that you can bounce between this site and the other at your leisure. For recipes, archives and photos go to
I still plan on updates to the old site, but for regular Mummy musings, this is the place to be.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Call me what you will, but I detest christmas music. Actually, what I detest is every store piping cheeseball christmas music through their intercom system. It used to be that you had to suffer only when you entered malls, but this year everyone seems to be joining in, from the grocery store to the hardware store. And it's not just limited to being inside the store, noooo, now we get to hear Faith Hill or George Michael cooing about santa and reindeer while walking past these stores. Arghhhh. There is no quicker killjoy than has-been singers going on and on about mistletoe and holly. Give me a break. Please. I don't think I'd be such a crank if stores limited their music to instrumentals. Not that I particularly want to listen to muzak versions of holiday music, but it would be marginally less obnoxious. So here's my advice to retailers: Cut it. If I want to listen to holiday music I'll play it for myself. Go back to your market-tested, demographic specific XM station, but please spare me your attempts at festivity. I can take it no more.  

Soup Night

Every second Monday of the month we host a soup night at our home from November to April. We started this tradition last year and it was such a rousing success on so many levels, that we decided it would become our annual tradition. We gleaned the idea from reading about different families that have done something similar. The main idea is to keep it simple, don't require RSVPs, and that it is not a potluck. Here's how it works for us. We send out invitations to friends and neighbors in October and on the invitation we say that we'll provide soup and drinks, and people are welcome to bring other food, but they don't have to. Also, people can come by anytime between 5 and 7:30 pm. They're welcome to stay for the entire time, or drop in as their schedule allows. We have anywhere from 30 to 60 people show up, lots of them kids. It is a wonderful way to stay connected with friends and neighbors, especially during the winter months, when we all tend to hibernate and not leave our caves. I always make a vegetarian and non-vegetarian soup. Here are the soups I made this last week for soup night:

Spicy Black Bean Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 to 2 teaspoons chopped jalapeño chile with seeds, divided
2 15- to 16-ounce cans black beans, undrained
1 15-ounce can petite diced tomatoes in juice
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth

Chopped fresh cilantro
Chopped green onions
Crumbled feta cheese

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot, and garlic; sauté until vegetables begin to soften, about 6 minutes. Mix in cumin and 1 teaspoon jalapeño. Add beans, tomatoes with juice, and broth; bring soup to boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook until carrots are tender, about 15 minutes. Transfer 3 cups of soup to blender and puree until smooth. Return puree to pot. Simmer soup until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and remaining 1 teaspoon jalapeño, if desired.
Ladle soup into bowls. Pass cilantro, green onions, and feta cheese separately.

Chicken Soup w/ Leek-Chive Matzo Balls*

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted pareve margarine
1/2 cup packed finely chopped leek (white and pale green parts only)
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh chives

4 eggs
2 tablespoons ginger ale
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup unsalted matzo meal

12 cups chicken broth
Chopped fresh chives

Melt margarine in heavy small skillet over medium heat. Add leek; sauté 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add 1/2 cup chives.
Beat eggs, ginger ale, salt, pepper and ginger to blend in bowl. Mix in matzo meal and leek mixture. Cover and chill until firm, at least 2 hours.
Line large baking sheet with plastic wrap. Using moistened palms, roll rounded teaspoons of matzo mixture into balls. Place on prepared baking sheet. Chill 30 minutes.
Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Drop in matzo balls; cover pot. Cook matzo balls until tender and evenly colored throughout, about 40 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer matzo balls to bowl. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill.)
Bring chicken broth to simmer in large pot. Add matzo balls and cook until warmed through, about 10 minutes

*I made this matzo ball soup last year and it was so good, that I cheated and repeated the recipe this year. It is the ultimate comfort soup.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Out of Order

This post is out of order, as I do need to write about our thanksgiving weekend and the boys' performance in the Nutcracker; however, that post will require a free evening and wine, and that is just something I don't have right now. But I did want to share Quinn and Logan's christmas list, as it is just too sweet and funny not to write about. 

New razor scooter
Radio Flyer wagon
Welding set
Car springs or scrap iron
Battle front game for the Mac
Edge Chronicles Book 7
New laptop
Duct tape
Sheet metal
Gas mask
Navy lace-up boots
Mechanical pencils (nice)
Swiss Army knife
Nerf guns
Garden stakes
Rubber bands
Thin bamboo poles
Metal pipe & copper

Radio Flyer wagon
Welding set
Razor scooter
Dungeon Siege for Mac
New laptop
Sheet metal
Leather padding
Gas mask
Lace-up boots
Navy clothes
Navy belt
Metal garden stakes
Huge rubber bands
Thin bamboo poles
Radio controlled plane
New movies
1/4" metal pipe
4x4 chunk of wood, 3.5' long

I kid you not, this is what they asked for. We can't wait to go shopping for rubber bands and car springs and wrap them up for our darlings! 

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wine & Nuts

Next week is thanksgiving. I'm sure most Americans are aware of this, but the fact that it is already here, as in next week, just entered my consciousness. I guess I should order that turkey for the SEVENTEEN people who will be here in six days wanting to eat something other than mac 'n cheese. Since coming out of my time warp, I went to the store today and at least started to give some thought to what we might want to cook next week. I didn't get too far, but I did buy 10 bottles of wine, so that should get us through. We'll just eat fondu and drink wine, and really I think we'd all be happy with that. Oh, yes, we also have about 30 lbs. of freshly roasted hazelnuts that Quinn, Logan and I picked last week. So maybe I'll "forget" about the bird and we'll just graze and drink instead.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Burn After Reading

If you haven't yet seen Burn After Reading, then go now. We saw it last night with some friends and I laughed so hard I was snorting. This is yet another brilliant film by the Coen brothers and this movie does not disappoint. The cast, the story, the subtlety were all outstanding. "League of Morons" is my new favorite term as a result of this film. There are so many reasons I enjoyed this film I think I'm going to have to see it again in the very near future.

Friday, November 14, 2008


Quinn and Logan burn through ballet slippers like you wouldn't believe. I was kvetching to another ballet mum, whose daughters dance with Q & L, about having to buy yet another pair of slippers for my boys at $38 a pair, when she pointed out that at least I'm not purchasing pointe shoes at 90 bucks a pop. Yikes. Yet another reason to be happy I have ballerinos rather than ballerinas.


We broke out the bubbly on November 4th to celebrate all the victories, from Obama to many ballot measures. I'm still pinching myself and am hopeful that our country can begin to bridge the divide that has been so toxic to our society. There is a lot of work to be done, and by no means does a favorable election outcome guarantee success, but I am optimistic and ready to continue working to make sure that we improve our country for the next generation.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Get it Right, People

If I hear the word ENORMITY used improperly one more time, I will scream. For the record, it has nothing, read it nothing, to do with size. I know it sounds like a cousin of enormous, but it is NOT. This word means extreme wickedness as in "the enormity of Hitler's mass murders." Please make note and stop making every grammarians ear bleed when this word is misused. Thank you.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes We Can

To everyone who voted, no matter who you cast your vote for, thank you. And to everyone who voted for our next president, THANK YOU. I feel as if I've taken my first deep breath since this whole process started. I'm thrilled beyond words. Thrilled for our country, thrilled for our children, thrilled for the world.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Running on Rainbows

Dear Autumn,

Just a note to let you know I’m so happy you decided to stick around this year. After your hasty retreat last year, I wondered if you’d come back around. You did, and I can’t thank you enough. I don’t know which was better, the Indian Summer we enjoyed until just a few days ago, or the fabulous display of outrageous color that just seemed to continue on in spite of itself. It was as if the trees had all this pent up color, which they didn’t get to indulge last year. The overt display was palpable. Being outside was like being at a middle school pep rally what with the riotous color and overt display. No subtlety here. It was as if each tree was screaming for attention. They certainly had mine. I know that fall colors have more to do with death, than life, but you’d be hard pressed to believe that.

The mixing of colors on the sidewalks is more beautiful than any Turkish carpet I’ve ever seen. The other day while running, I felt as though I ran on rainbows that had been unstrung. It was so impossibly lovely, that I ran twice as long as I intended.

With the end of daylight savings, you packed it up and left. Now I’m struggling with darkness that descends upon us by late afternoon. The rains haven’t ceased in days, and the leaves are no longer blowing like tie-dyed tumbleweeds. I’ve pulled out the thick sweaters and scarves and am ready for bed by 8pm, but it’s worth it because when I close my eyes I see a kaleidoscope of color and my dreams are all the more vivid.

Until next year then.

Elephant Gestation

Today is the day I've been waiting for, yearning for, biting my nails for, obsessively tracking polls for, walking the streets for--November 4th. I've had this day circled in red on my calendar for so long now, that I'm staring in disbelief today. It's here, finally. This has been such a long haul, nearly as long as an elephant's gestation. But today, I'm hoping not for the birth of the symbol of the republican party, but a donkey. Too bad donkey's are not the sexiest of symbols, although I do appreciate their stubbornness. I anticipate it being a long night as we await not only the presidential election results, but also the result of numerous local and state races. I don't think I'll fully exhale until we see the Obama landslide I'm hoping for...