Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Winding down 2014

As is seemingly the norm around here, I started drafting this post three weeks ago.  In that time, we've had Christmas, New Year, a Dotyron birthday, a Dotytron inking, a horrible anniversary marked, and now this, the Sunday afternoon before the return to thrumming, frenetic, "normal" life.  The babies are asleep, the Dotytron is napping, the Big Yam is serving out his weekend "quiet time" with relative calm in his room, playing with Lego, and I've taken a break from piecing the back of a quilt to update.

Quiet time and lazy Sundays are the stuff that parents-of-young babies dreams' are made of.  The idea that there will be a guaranteed two hour block of everyone engaged in their own individual, quiet, personal pursuits is the harbor that the Dotytron and I cling to when we're raking a tsunami of Duplo off our carpet for the 15th time in a day.  When every counter in our newly renovated kitchen is covered with last night's dinner tailings because we just weren't up for the last and final wave of cleaning after rousing ourselves from the daily 9pm "trying to find just the right thing to watch on Netflix, giving up, and passing out" ritual, and each child is clamoring for a different morning dairy product (cottage cheese! Yogurt! Smoothie!), the flashes of the Great Promise that is family weekend quiet time is what sustains us.  Two uninterrupted hours to work are a glorious, glorious thing.

Our two week holiday was as usual, about half holiday and half visits, eating, some stress, living.  We actually had our s**t pretty much together this year - so much so that I managed to bang out a quilt top and quilt back this break.  That's not nothing, folks.  We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas day with Momma D and Emdo.  We spent Boxing Day weekend with my family.  We had 4 (FOUR!) meals out (!!!!) and a very low-key NYE.

I'm telling you, man, I'm not buying a single thing for my kids ever again.  Especially not around the holidays.  It's insane!  Every year, we talk about "scaling back" and every year, present opening takes a minimum of 2 hours and by the end of it we're all pasty and clammy and shell-shocked from the whole ordeal.  The Big Yam has been consistently asking for a "skeleton" from Santa since about the end of Halloween (I think he got his holidays confused) and opened his present from Santa on Christmas Day and was such a giant nerd about how into it he was:

I love my nerdbomber kid, so much.  
Post present opening remark: "How did Santa know I like dead things?"

Pre-hairtcut photo shoot for grandparental units

Quincess Leia "cheese face"

Cousins shot - Lenny doing his "cheese" face like whoa

Lenny "cheese" face in detail

Classic Quincess - such a little daydream believer

The one year anniversary of Cousin Al's death happened over the break.  This coincided with Pixar's Up joining the regular rotation in our household which means that the Dotytron and I have had to sit through the opening montage which contains all of human life and love in one dialogue-less sucker punch to the gut (and tear ducts).  Lots of crying ensues.  Lots of tears shed into the Big Yam's head as we pull him into a wriggling, confused embrace and use him as a human handkerchief to sop up our tears.  We've found some solace recently when I showed Guillermo del Toro's new animated film, The Book of Life, which talks about the tradition of the Day of the Dead in Mexico, and how those departed loved ones of ours live a glorious, joy filled existence in the Land of the Remembered, so long as you continue to honour them and keep their memory alive.  I've said it before, but it is such a beautiful way of constructing a cosmology and taking back at least a little agency from the grip of sadness in the wake of a loved one's death.  It also mitigates the anger, too - at the capriciousness of fates, at the inevitability of our own mortality.

We celebrated the Dotytron's birthday with a Louis CK style "bang bang" (two different meals at two different restaurants).  We started at Kintori Yakitori with the seafood selection sampler and the yaktori (chicken) sampler, and added some grilled tongue and chicken knee cartilage, fried.  This place is owned and operated by the Guu crew and I dunno, man, those places just SPEAK to me.  There's something about it all - the vibe, the music, the hot Japanese cooks, the fact that the Asian to non-Asian ratio is about 80:1 - these are my people.  We hopped downstairs and hit up some shio ramen at Kinton Ramen after.  Technically, I know that it's not a true "bang bang" - I don't think it would fulfill the requirements - the meals aren't different enough and aren't like, "full" meals, but I did finish my entire bowl of ramen down to the last drop, as I decided that I wanted to join the "Kinton Bowler" club which requires you to eat insane amounts of ramen to get some throwaway prizes (30 bowls gets you a Kinton towel though!)

Other things that happened:

We left the babies with our caregiver and snuck off and ate a delicious medianoche-filled lunch at La Cubana one day.  I really like that place, teensy tiny tables, delicious habanero honey fried calamari and all.  I really hope that the normalization of Cuban-American relations doesn't change the cuisine.

I went to the AGO with the Big Yam and my friend Montreal I to check the Alex Colville exhibit.  The Big Yam was not a fan.  I was, but unfortunately, if you pay for a special exhibit, bringing a person the Big Yam's age to the AGO is not your friend.  You are working at cross-purposes.  He found the exhibit "boring," the paintings with the animals "scary," and I got a lot of "I want to go home."  He wanted to run around in the Henry Moore sculpture gallery, which is what we ended up doing.  

Mid-haircut, I had to tour a new electrician around our basement wearing this amazeballs shirt that Momma D got me for Xmas.  It would be an XL on Rita McNeil.  It is hilarious.  Oh, did I mention that half my hair was straightened and clipped up (only half?!)  

I hung out with this little bobblehead.  HOW CUTE IS THIS BABY?!?  Short answer: the cutest. 

We had the Roomie, and Montreal I, and L'Armi over one night and we were all in the kitchen cleaning up from dinner when L'Armi called disinterestedly from the living room, "Uh, we have a bit of a situation here."  So we all walked over and saw that the Quincess had smeared about half a tub of Vaseline over half his face.

I made this malted buttercream chocolate stump (it's supposed to be a buche de noel turned on its' side - or what Dr. Rei calls a "log of yule") courtesy of the Baked team.  Recipe is here.  Overall, the recipe was a bit fussy and indulgent (17 eggs!) for a decent yield.  You make a genoise and spread the buttercream on and roll it up.  I don't think I would make it in that form again.  Or maybe cut the recipe in half?  I always find genoise cakes kind of dry.  

My 2014 Xmas cookie plate (left to right, top to bottom): Tartine's salted chocolate rye cookies, classic chocolate chip, chocolate oatmeal, Smitten's buckeyes, Martha Stewart's gingerbread, malted chocolate chip, maple brown sugar, gingersnaps, Dutch vanilla almond sugar cookies.  I would re-do the Tartine ones.  The buckeyes are now standard, the gingerbread recipe produces a nice, cakey, soft gingerbread so that's our go-to now as well, as are the malted milk chocolate.  My gingersnaps always over-baked and got too crisp this year.  The Dutch sugar cookies were a bit bland and disappointing (I was supposed to be able to pipe the batter but it almost made two piping bags explode!), and the maple brown sugar ones were also too sweet.  

Our New Year's eve saw me lining up at Diana's seafood on the BUSIEST SEAFOOD DAY OF THE YEAR like a total idiot for oysters.  We also made some fresh pasta and then the Dotytron went out briefly for drinks with his friends while I snuggled in with the Big Yam and contentedly fell asleep at 9pm.  Good times.

Sunday supper was a return to normalcy (read: not cookies for dinner).  A bastardized Hungarian goulash (according to Tillers, my choice to omit the caraway is sacrilege), whole wheat spaetzle, and braised cabbage.  

I'm nearly finished a quilt!  Fastest turnaround time, ever.  Details to come, but suffice to say that on Sunday night, while the Dotytron and I puzzled through the amorphous and entirely implausible motivations of the sadistic multinational corporation pulling the strings in the Maze Runner movie, I enlisted his help with basting.  Which I will never do again as almost all his pins were stuck to the carpet and we had to re-do them anyway.  But also, look at my handsome progressive partner in his Zubaz!


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