Sunday, July 31, 2011

Evening Walk

Our town is very much what you'd expect from a typical New York City suburb, parking lots and buildings, streets lined with nail salons, mechanics, liquor stores and gas stations. The houses here are so close together you can lean out your window and touch your neighbor. And almost no one has a proper yard with grass and trees (although we are lucky--our back yard actually has a square of grass out of which a Bradford Pear Tree grows).

But our town is also full of beautiful secret spots where Egrets and Great Blue Herons fish and migratory birds stop over for awhile. Little parks and sidewalks along the bays, overgrown places behind buildings--these are the places our family always seek out.

Behind a giant strip mall of restaurants, grocery stores and the movie theatre, there's a nature path that runs along the golf course. Some evenings our family takes long walks there. Yesterday S and I paid a visit...

We came across a Trumpeter Swan...

a Seagull's fresh kill

and a Horseshoe Crab

Along the way S fashioned an Egret call from a hollow reed...

The picture I didn't show you is the one looking across the bay, where you can see Manhattan and Jersey City and a whole slew of condos and strip malls. I also didn't show you the container ships in the bay and all the garbage that washes up on shore. There are things to love about this town, and we go out of our way trying to find them, but for the most part we're counting down the days until we can move out of here.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Baking: Laura's Golden Wheat Sheaf Bread

On Thursday S was sick and I stayed home from work. I found myself with a lot of time on my hands and, for once, a relatively clean house that didn't require too much of my time. After a few loads of laundry and the finishing touches of a baby blanket, I decided to bake something.

I'd been considering baking the Wheat Sheaf Bread from the Little House on the Prairie Crafts book, but wanted to do it with S. However, as it turned out S didn't want to do much of anything but rest and, honestly when he was feeling better he would rather be fighting dinosaurs or playing Star Wars. He wasn't interesting in rolling or shaping dough or baking bread in the least. So while he slept...

...I made Laura's Golden Wheat Sheaf Bread. Oh man, was it yummy!

I'm not the best sculptor and the loaf came out looking more like a squid, or as one friend on facebook said--Freddy Krueger's hand, but it was still so much fun making this bread, which had two rise stages.

Our family devoured it with a big pot of homemade veggie soup!

For more wheat sheaf bread recipes and some amazing ideas for creating more elaborate wheat sheaf breads check out these links:

*It's Those Little Things has a much simpler recipe than the one I used, with no milk or sugar

*For a rich loaf with a touch of molasses Bread Experience has a great recipe.

*Cornish Garden offers step-by-step instructions for a gorgeous looking loaf.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Week 19

Week 19 was so much better than the last two weeks. No UTIs, no kidney infections, no colds. And it ended with a lovely visit with a wonderful friend in Long Island.

Today I'm home from work with a sick little Gwyn. S has some sort of stomach bug, but nothing some rest, pop-sickles and Play-Doh can't fix. While S slept today I finished up the Pine Forest Baby Blanket, did tons of laundry and baked a golden wheat sheaf bread (more on that tomorrow).

Weeks 19 and (so far) 20 have brought a good bit of my pre-pregnancy energy back. Even though I can still fall asleep at the drop of a hat (and actually nodded off on a stranger's shoulder on the train yesterday), I'm feeling up to all the baking, knitting and making that I used to do so much of. I plan on taking advantage of it now to finish up some projects for the Gwyn on the way. I haven't even started making soakers, sweaters or booties, and T has promised to tutor me through a few simple sewing projects for the babe. But first he's saving a little extra from his paychecks to buy us a better sewing machine. He says our Singer doesn't cut it.

T and Simona took these pictures of me at the Arboretum. I was wind-blown and a bit disheveled from our afternoon at the beach, but it was the end of the week and we hadn't yet taken a weekly photo. It was a wonderful day with my sweet family and a sweet friend. S was a little wild without a nap that day and we were happy to spend most of the hours outside where he could run it off, play in the sand and splash in the water. And we got to see a beautiful part of Long Island and spend a few hours with one of our favorite people. This weekend we're taking it easy. I see water parks and ice cream in our future.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Day Trip: Glen Cove, Long Island

It's Tuesday and we survived the weekend of record breaking high temperatures. Friday it was 106 degrees in Jersey, and Saturday we got a little break with 103. We spent most of the weekend indoors and were very happy when Sunday turned out to be a normal summer day with temperatures in the low 90s.

So we took a little road trip to visit my dear friend (and co-worker) Simona at her home in Long Island.

Simona was such a lovely and thoughtful host. When we arrived at her place she'd packed a cooler full of homemade lemonade, fresh watermelon, grapes, rugalach and other scrumptious summer treats. We spent the day at the beach just down the street from her apartment and then later visited the Planting Fields Aroboretum.

This was in Glen Cove, Long Island, where Sabrina, one of my very favorite Audrey Hepburn movies, was filmed. Glen Cove is a charming town full of mansions and old Victorians, horse farms and sprawling greens. And it's only an hour and fifteen minutes from NYC but about two hours from us in New Jersey.

Seamus had a big time playing in the sand at the beach, rinsing it all off in a cool shower and rolling back in the sand again. You should have seen all the sand that came off of him the bath that night. He even had it in his ears.

He also brought home lots of "fossils."

The Planting Fields Arboretum was our most favorite part of the day however. We arrived late but stayed for a good two hours and still only saw a small section of the 409 acre estate.

The arboretum was so breathtaking that the Gwyns felt way underdressed in our beach clothes, salty hair and sandy skin.

Simona was the only one of the four of us who looked like she belonged there in her dress and flowing scarf.

I took lots of pictures of blooming things and fruit bearing trees...much more than I could ever post here without boring you completely.

We let S play in the arboretum's sprinkler systems:

We also played for a bit inside this big tree.

S had fun climbing the trees that didn't have signs saying not to, and pretending to be a deer.

We finished the day with margarita pizza at a cute Italian restaurant and headed the two hours back home through Queens and Brooklyn, over the Williamsburg Bridge, through downtown Manhattan and the Holland Tunnel and back into Jersey. It was late when we got home and I slept like a baby. Now it's already Tuesday and I still feel like I'm on some sort of vacation and shouldn't be anywhere near work.
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