Friday, June 29, 2012

Our Favorite Lemon Tahini Dressing

Eleven years ago, I worked for a restaurant called Good Morning Healing Earth here in Seattle. I was only there for four weeks but I have very pleasant memories of the work and the food. The lemon tahini dressing especially made a lasting impression on me and A. This recipe is my best attempt to recreate it and has lately become the condiment of choice for our spring and summer salads.

Ingredients:
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup cider vinegar
Juice of half a lemon
A clove of garlic
A chopped celery stalk
A handful of fresh parsley
A big pinch each of salt and pepper



Blend all the ingredients until smooth. Keeps for at least a week in the fridge.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Morning at the Beach

This morning, B and the children headed to a nearby beach to soak up some sun (which finally, blissfully, returned). I was at work, so I missed out on the fun this time, but hopefully we'll have at least one more sunny day at the beach this summer!





Saturday, June 23, 2012

Northwest Summer Attire

Though the solstice has passed and the days are long, we know from experience that summer weather never begins in our neck of the woods until July 5. So while much of the country was sweltering this week, we donned our Northwest "summer" attire (which looks remarkably like autumn, winter, and spring attire... hmm...) for another round of puddle stomping and slightly soggy backyard explorations.
Sheltering under the willow tree

D inspecting the clover, er, strawberry patch
 
Sorry, D, we don't need to water today!


C's reaction to the stormy day: "Well, at least the plants like all this rain, right?"

Yes they do, C, yes they do!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Flying Kites

On our last evening of vacation, the wind picked up and the clouds rolled in. It was perfect weather for a little after-dinner kite flying.



Believe it or not, I have never successfully flown a kite in my life (at least, not that I can remember). Strange that such a simple thing could be so exhilarating, but it was! You only need to look at the delight on the children's faces (click the photo to enlarge) to see that they were having a grand time too. Definitely a memorable evening!







Monday, June 18, 2012

Exploring

During our vacation, we spent some time exploring sunny meadows...

gazing at mountains...

"hiking" to a waterfall in the rainforest (it was a very easy hike, but still so beautiful!)...


hiding in tall grasses...

walking through the "jungle"...

making, and wearing, daisy crowns...

admiring duck ponds and wisteria arbors...

... in short, enjoying the beauty of this corner of the world.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day

Today's post is dedicated to my husband, who is such an amazing father to our two little ones. He makes each of us feel appreciated and loved every single day, and today it's our job to help him feel the same way!


This wonderful man keeps the household running smoothly, makes us delicious food, willingly tackles projects big and small, and happily experiences all the ups and downs of parenthood right along with me. He works tirelessly for our family, both in and out of the home, and does so with a sense of humor and optimism. I could go on, but suffice it to say, it is a joy to have him with us and we are so grateful to him.


Also, sending happy Father's Day wishes to my own dad, my father-in-law, and all the other wonderful, devoted dads out there!

Friday, June 15, 2012

On the Beach

In celebration of D's birthday, we headed out of the city to enjoy a few days at the beach. We were fortunate to be able to stay at a relative's amazing beach house, and to get some nice weather (not always a given in early June around here).

Away we go!
 
We had so many adventures (more posts to come), but some of our favorite times were the mornings and evenings we spent exploring the beach, enjoying the peaceful atmosphere. There wasn't much to break the welcoming quiet except the chattering of sea birds, the occasional airplane, and of course, the sounds of our children playing (and, sometimes, crying). The slow pace of beach life and plenty of time together as a family were quite rejuvenating.

 Through the tall grass

Drawing in the warm sand

 Beach boy

D made me a nice "cup of tea"
 
He loves seaweed too! (Except when he slips on it....)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Colorful

C finished her first year of preschool last week--what a wonderful year it was! She brought home a bundle of her artwork (drawings and wet-on-wet watercolor paintings). Here are a few samples of her explorations of color:







Sunday, June 10, 2012

Seaweed Gathering

Last weekend, a dear friend and I set out on an adventure as the day dawned. Away we drove, past cities and farmland, across bridges and through the forest. A few hours later, we arrived at our destination: a lovely state park on the sea, where we were to learn all about magnificent sea vegetables!

While the tide was low, we clambered with the class along the slippery rocks, listening to our eccentric teacher share his vast knowledge of seaweed and kelp (peppered with humorous anecdotes). We then made our way over to our driftwood "classroom" where we sampled the plants we had just seen in dry form, along with a potluck of seaweed-themed snacks. Afterward, we combed the beach to collect a little bit of seaweed to take home with us.

The beach was abundant in one of our favorite seaweeds, nori

A common and pretty tasty seaweed on Northwest beaches, bladderwrack

Also harvested: kombu and wakame 
(shown here drying in our kitchen... it smelled pleasantly oceanic for several days)

It's funny, but the simple act of learning how to identify plants has given me a whole new appreciation and respect for the plant kingdom. Looking at the first picture above, instead of just seeing rocks and sand and seaweed--I can pick out sea lettuce, gigartina, bullwhip kelp, bladderwrack. It's rather thrilling to know that I will never look at the beach in the same way again!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Two


Today, my sweet son turns two years old. We feel so lucky to have him in our family--he filled a void that we didn't even know we had until he came along. His joyful, curious, and often goofy attitude always brightens our spirits!


(I finished his birthday crown just in time!)

We celebrated this morning with one of his favorite breakfasts, pancakes (or "mancakes" as he adorably calls them) with strawberries and coconut cream. A fitting way to celebrate his sweetness!


 D on the day he was born

 D on his first birthday

 The two-year-old!

Happy Birthday, darling D!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

In the Backpack

C was invited to play at a friend's house after school yesterday. She was so excited when she woke up in the morning, and after breakfast she set to work packing up her backpack with all the necessities:


You may be wondering why she has two "phones." And why do they look so... rustic? Well, she decided she needed a phone and began to look around for one of our play phones (we have a couple of retired cell phones set aside for this purpose). When she couldn't find them, she spotted one of these lovely wooden disks (the "plates" of a tea set) and triumphantly decided, "It's OK, I can use this!" When D noticed what she was doing, he found the other one and gave it to her. She looked at him quizzically, then said, "Oh, you want me to have two phones? Sure!" Gotta love that unbridled 4-year-old imagination!

Monday, June 4, 2012

On My Mind

These past weeks, as we have adjusted to our new routine, I have had plenty of time with my thoughts during my long "single-mama" days, ruminating on topics great and small. What path shall we take for our children's primary school education? How early do I have to leave if I am going to get to the faraway, early-Sunday-morning seaweed-harvesting class on time? (Answer: 5am. More on that in a future post.) What could I be doing to make our days go smoother, to nurture growth, to bring more joy into our everyday lives? What should we have for dinner? Did I switch out the laundry yet?

True, a lot of my mental wanderings tend to focus on my own little world, but recent tragic events in our community have also been weighing heavily on my mind. When it seems that the world is spinning out of control, it can be so incredibly hard not to become overwhelmed, and to keep feeling optimistic. I have to constantly remind myself that all I can do, really, is live a life that feels authentic to me, to work on building a strong community, to be kind and help others, and expect the same of my children. And, of course, to seek out and enjoy the small moments of joy and beauty that are present every day. Writing this blog helps me in this endeavor by giving me a space to appreciate the good things in my life. I don't mean to give the impression that our lives are perfect--they aren't--or that we are ignoring the larger problems of the world, but I have purposefully chosen to focus on the positive in this space.

So, that being said, let's return to our regularly scheduled programming....

This past weekend, we had one of C's good friends from school over for the afternoon. I am so glad that we have finally entered the stage when having another child over actually makes life easier--the kids entertained themselves the whole time (I just provided snacks and occasional emotional support). Even D joined in with their games! Everyone had a lovely time.


C and her friend, both totally rocking the "I picked out my clothes" preschooler look



D making "dinner"

One thing that really made me smile was to overhear C's little friend saying quietly to her, "Will you ask your mom if we can..." That statement really brought me back to when I was a little girl playing at my friends' houses. I think about how adults seemed back then: omniscient, kind but perhaps a little dull (what with their preoccupation with chores and work), their inner lives a complete mystery. At moments like these, I take a step back and think how amazing it is that, to them, I am that grown-up! It kind of blows my mind.

I've realized that looking at the world through the eyes of a child can be somewhat therapeutic. Through that youthful idealism we can tap into a sense of wonder about the world; we can more readily see the possibilities rather than focusing on hurdles that seem insurmountable. Holding these values within ourselves can lift us up and help to carry us through difficult times.