Dress That Mama

DSC_0011DSC_0025

Something about the shape of an A-line skirt really appeals to me — it’s feminine and forgiving, and when I found one with nice big pockets, I was sold. I can’t wait to wear it without these fleece-lined thigh-highs (though Andrew particularly likes them, ha!). Bare legs will someday make an appearance, despite how it feels outside today!

Find similar skirt here (without pockets) or here (with side pockets). Also, I’ve realized that the design of this skirt is quite simple and if you are handy with a sewing machine, I’m willing to bet there are some great old-school patterns to use on more modern fabrics to make your own!

Crockpot Lamb Stew

DSC_0003Lamb stew: a savory, rich, tender dish perfect for snowy cold weather. And though I am only slightly tiring of soups and stews with spring around the corner, the truth is that it is still frigid and snowy in many parts of the country, so it may not be time to put away that crockpot just yet.

Here, I have taken inspiration from Saveur | The New Classics Cookbook, using much of the Lamb Navarin recipe while skipping over the complex techniques. What turned out was a delicious dish I would highly recommend for a snowy day or an easy dinner with friends. I hope you enjoy!

Crockpot Lamb Stew

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lb trimmed boneless lamb shoulder, cut into large cubes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 5 carrots (or even better, a bag of Trader Joe’s Parisian Carrots — they are round and bite-sized so you won’t have to chop anything — find in the frozen veggies section)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 4 medium turnips, peeled and cut into 2″ pieces
  • handful of fingerling potatoes
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 12 pearl onions, peeled
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cups beef broth

Heat large cast iron pot over medium heat. Add olive oil to pot. Dredge each piece of lamb in 1/2 cup flour with salt & pepper, then add to hot pan piece by piece, being careful not to crowd the meat. Working in batches, brown lamb on each side — 8-10 minutes — and set aside in a bowl. Add butter to pot, then onions. Cook onions until soft and brown, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, flour, and tomato paste, and cook, stirring often, until tomato paste begins to brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in 3 cups beef stock and reserved lamb. Bring to a simmer.

Transfer to slow cooker and set heat to low, for 8 hours. Add carrots, potatoes, turnips, pearl onions, and bay leaf and cover. Check the broth level occasionally. The sauce will thicken as it cooks, but if it appears to thicken too much, add a bit of water, 1/2 cup at a time. After 6 hours, add peas. Add salt and pepper to taste, and cook an hour or two more, until the lamb is fall-apart tender. Remove bay leaf before dishing out.

Garnish with fresh parsley and serve with crusty bread. As with many stews, this is even better the second day! Enjoy!

Weekend Shenanigans

DSC_0288DSC_0299DSC_0290DSC_0295

Snow, snow, and more snow! In St. Louis it feels like winter decided to come a couple months late this season. It is officially March (and despite it being the birthday month of some of my very favorite people, it is my wariest, most unlucky month). We make plans for spring travels with friends and family, we gaze into the snow-covered dormant garden and wonder how in the world it will be overflowing with fruit and vegetables in a few short months. We play Monopoly and Sorry again, and try to shake away the winter blues by making plans with friends (and then having to cancel them at the last minute because of the roads).

DSC_0037DSC_0038

DSC_0085DSC_0084DSC_0019

DSC_0083

Friday night we did get to hang out with some of our friends and their kids over at our house — it was a fun time as always and full of laughter and shenanigans. The kids snuck ice cream upstairs when we weren’t paying attention, built with blocks, and roughhoused on the couch while we planted ourselves next to the fire. It was such a cold night!

DSC_0015DSC_0016DSC_0055DSC_0056DSC_0065

And the next day the snow started coming down again and didn’t stop until sometime long after we went to bed that night. We awoke on Sunday morning to plenty of it. But really, I don’t mind the snow! It’s so pretty and our house is always brighter than any sunny summer day, so there’s that.

DSC_0302Looking forward to seeing more of my people this week — it seems like everyone is craving extra friend time to get through this last winter push! Hope you have a lovely day.

And Jamie & Brian, we’re sorry we missed you!

How Often Should We Bathe Our Kids?

DSC_0082Ah, remembering this day last October reminds me that spring and summer are real seasons — seasons of dirt and mud and warm sunshine, days we spend outdoors from sun-up to sun-down. Days when a good hose-off at the end of the day will suffice before the boys collapse into bed, sun-kissed and exhausted. Which begs the question… how often do you bathe your kids?

Read more here, in a Washington Post article that went up yesterday. And have a lovely weekend.

 

Reading…

DSC_0041

Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book, Johanna Basford

We’re not technically reading this book, but as it is a book of sorts, I wanted to share the awesome beauty of Johanna Basford’s nature-inspired coloring book. My mom found a whole slew of great coloring books for the boys for Christmas. This one is our favorite.
DSC_0043

My favorite activity with Milo this winter has been lying side-by-side on our bellies in front of the fireplace, feet warmed by the flames, listening to good music, and coloring together in this book. Usually it results in some pretty interesting discussions, as he always tends to open up when we are busy doing something like this — something non-confrontational and calm and almost meditative.
DSC_0045DSC_0046This coloring book is also full of hidden creatures throughout for you to find (16 bees, 2 frogs, 116 butterflies, 7 slugs, 1 squirrel, 1 hedgehog, 13 owls, and 3 mice, along with many many others). A perfect treat for all ages.

And when we’re through with this one, we intend to order her newest: Enchanted Forest!

Dress That Mama

DSC_0018

I know it’s time to add a bit more color into my wardrobe because when I wore this, it was apparently such a shock to my boys, they each exclaimed something along the lines of “Wow, Mama! What pretty colors on your dress!” And that includes Andrew. What caught my eye about this dress were the colors— the jewel tones on a neutral black and the so-interesting hand print which goes up the center of the back and front of the dress. It looks so pretty with red lipstick.

The dress I snatched up during LaGarconne‘s extra 20% off winter sale so it was (finally) a reasonable price. I’m looking forward to wearing it all spring and summer! But for now, it’s perfect with a sweater and leggings.

DSC_0012

Dress: Carven; leggings: Hue; boots: Rachel Comey (sold out): similar here and here. Sweater: similar here (the most similar color here is timber wolf). 

How about you? Are you “hugging all the colors” like Milla, or more of a neutrals gal like Anne? Have a lovely day!

Milo, 7 1/2

DSC_0041

It’s so interesting to me, genetics. I look at Milo, his coloring like peaches and cream, eyes sea foam green, hair blond as the hills of dry grass in the winter. His eyes are all Andrew, but his lightness is a mystery — a beautiful surprise that stands in such contrast to his dark-eyed and dark-haired brothers. And at seven-and-a-half, his body is continually stretching upward into long, lean muscles. I didn’t know his softness would go away so soon! That his chubby little cheeks and belly would be replaced by solid muscle! Holding him on my lap, he is all angles and edges.

As is the tradition, I decided to ask him a few questions to mark this time in his life.

DSC_0040

How old are you today?   Seven-and-a-half years old.

What is your favorite time of day?   Right after lunch. Recess! 

And your favorite color?   Green!

Favorite food?   Peanut butter and Nutella sandwiches.

Best memory from this past winter?   Going to circus class. 

Who is your best friend?   Malachi, Cora, and Max!

What do you want to be when you grow up? A scientist, same as last time. 

What do you do when you are feeling sad?   Cry. Pretty obvious. 

Favorite book?   The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. 

What is your favorite movie?   Princess Bride and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. 

What is your favorite thing to do in school?   Recess, kickball, dodgeball, usually kick the can. 

DSC_0046

Most embarrassing moment?   When I broke the garage window with the bucket. That was soooooo embarrassing!

Favorite joke?   The “stand on one foot” joke. So, you’re walking home from school and you bet your friend a dollar if they cannot stand on one foot for three whole minutes without talking or falling. That’s step one. Then, you knock real loud on some crabby neighbor’s door. That’s step two… and then you run. I got the idea from a book. 

How does it feel to be seven-and-a-half?   Sometimes if feels strange and kind of embarrassing. There are hurtful moments in my life. And I get really frustrated with Oliver. 

See Milo’s answers to similar questions a year ago, and at four-and-three-quarters, and three-and-a-half. So great. 

Weekend Shenanigans

DSC_0028

This weekend was full of fun and snow. After last week’s sick-fest, we were finally all feeling up for adventure this time around. Overnight on Friday, icy sleet and snow fell, leaving the gymnastics class we just signed Emil up for cancelled on Saturday morning. We had decided that one Saturday class for all three boys (circus for Milo & Oliver, gymnastics for Emil during the same time) was appropriate and not over-scheduling their time, as their after school time is completely free and open. I struggled with the decision, but once we made it we were grateful for the diversion and as long as the boys beg and plead to continue, we are happy to oblige!

Emil was stuck at home feeling glum, but once I suggested sledding with our neighbors, he perked right up! And for one day, it was warm enough to enjoy the snow without frigid wind and frozen toes. Having the one-on-one time with Emil was really special.
DSC_0024DSC_0031DSC_0017DSC_0018DSC_0057DSC_0078DSC_0077

Plus, he’s quite a help shoveling snow (even if he ends up shoveling the yard more than the walkways). DSC_0067DSC_0079DSC_0084DSC_0087DSC_0092DSC_0001DSC_0004DSC_0005

Milo enjoyed a birthday party and a play date and spent the rest of his weekend reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid and playing with the vast collection of animals we have amassed over the years.

DSC_0003

The lamb stew (my simplified crockpot version of the multi-step Lamb Naravin) turned out really well. Andrew and I ate it all weekend long — let me know if you’d like the recipe and I’d be happy to share!

DSC_0007

Oliver was treated to a pizza lunch by one of his former preschool teachers — she is a special person in his life and I love that he has adults in his life other than his parents who take an interest in who he is and what he’s up to. She is a gem of a lady and we are grateful to have her in our lives!DSC_0005We spent plenty of time relaxing indoors as well. A good cozy winter weekend!

Happy (Snowy) Friday

DSC_0033DSC_0035

I feel it necessary to share these snow day pictures from President’s Day last Monday, even though the amount of snow is minuscule compared to the 8 feet or so the East Coast has been dealing with over the past few weeks. It is the first notable snow of our entire winter, really. And even though the boys weren’t yet 100% after battling the stomach bug that ravaged our household from Thursday on through Saturday, they begged me to at least take advantage of our snow by sledding down our tiny front yard hill.

DSC_0007DSC_0009DSC_0016

Poor Milo went down the hill once before retreating indoors to sit by the fire and read for the rest of the morning. He was really not feeling well, but what a trooper for trying. DSC_0037

Oliver is such a great kid. I know I sometimes allude to hard times with his strong personality, but along with the tough times come the most amazing times, too. How his imagination is constantly blossoming with fantastic ideas and insights, how he loves a good hug more than anyone I’ve ever known, how he can be incredibly tender with his little brother, and how helpful he can be around the house (he’s into making beds recently) and in the kitchen baking. He has a gigantic heart and we all just love him so much. DSC_0026DSC_0039And then… Wednesday night, I got the lovely stomach bug myself. Voila! Looks like a 100% infection rate over here. Oh, well.

I hope you have a good weekend, whether you’re knee-deep in snow or huddled up inside. Happy Weekend!

Reading… And Cooking… And Eating

DSC_0001

My lovely friend Maggie (who is forever spoiling me with kindness in the form of words, stories, and my favorite flowers hung carefully on my doorknob) and her husband Alex (the funniest, most genuine life-of-the-party type complete with British accent to boot) gave me a gift card to a local bookstore for my birthday earlier this month. And I knew exactly what I wanted to spend it on: Saveur: The New Classics cookbook. DSC_0003DSC_0005

I have already made three recipes from this book and each one has turned out magnificently. In fact, the Christian Delouvrier-inspired Perfect Roast Chicken is so succulently perfect with it’s crispy salty skin, I’ve already made it twice. And so, in the spirit of sharing (and hoping you will go out and buy this book or at least buy it for someone who loves to cook), I share that perfect recipe. Enjoy!

Perfect Roast Chicken

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 3-4 lb whole chicken
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme

Heat oven to 475. * Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat and stir in soy sauce; set aside. Season chicken with salt & pepper and stuff cavity with garlic and thyme; tie legs together with kitchen twine. Transfer to 9 x 13-inch baking dish.

Brush the chicken (or pour, I poured) generously with some of the soy-butter mixture and cook, basting twice more during cooking, until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of thigh reads 165, about an hour. Let rest 10 minutes before carving.

* The recipe is perfect, but maybe not for my old stove. I found 475 to be too hot, scorching the outside of the bird and leaving the center undercooked. The second time I made this, I started out at 450 and had perfect results. 

DSC_0006I plan on making at least one recipe from this book per week. This week, Lamb Naravin (French lamb stew) and coconut cake. My mouth is already watering.

P.s. — Saveur online