Five Months of Chicken

Hazel hit the five-month mark last week, so it’s time for an update.

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Major milestones: Hazel has two teeth! The lower left came in first, followed shortly thereafter by the lower right.

She also now rolls from back-to-front and front-to-back with relative ease. She can roll off her activity mat onto the carpet, which reminds me I need to vacuum more frequently.

She is intensely interested in drinking vessels – cups, glasses, bottles – and food. This month we will introduce rice cereal, and next month it’s time for real food. Jason and the kids can’t wait to help feed her. Apparently diaper duty is just not as much fun as feeding.

Hazel had a great time at our church’s Trunk or Treat last Friday (see above) and loved interacting with all the children. At home, she’s delighted by the dogs and Ron the cat.

She’s close to sitting up on her own, and just needs a little support from me or the Boppy. She’s a good sport when she eventually and invariably flops over.

Overall, she’s a curious and observant little girl. She’s still laid-back and easygoing, and is supremely flexible when her schedule is interrupted (which happens, oh, daily). We just love her to pieces, and are so grateful to be her parents.

 

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WIWW: Fall, briefly

It’s finally cool enough to wear jeans and closed-toe shoes! And there was much rejoicing!

I apologize for the iPhone shot. It’s the thought that counts?

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Since I’m nursing Hazel, my pre-pregnancy size-medium shirts do not accommodate my (frankly incredible) rack. So, to stretch my postpartum short-sleeve and sleeveless shirts into fall, I am adding cardigans and scarves and whatnot.

The navy tee was bought this summer. Everything else is at least a few years old.

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Chapter 43, In Which an Old Bed Gets New Life

I don’t like to admit this, but in 2007 I bought a matchy-matchy bedroom set.

It was a dark time in many ways. I had just separated from my ex-husband, and I was sleeping on an air mattress and sitting on camp chairs. I needed cheap furniture, like now. I went to A-9 Furniture in Tallahassee, which is almost as classy as its web site suggests. I paid cash for a bedroom set, couch, coffee table, and end tables. I figured the furniture would fall apart after a few years, and I would be able to replace the furniture with nicer pieces.

The couch has died (long live the couch!), but everything else is still in great shape. Here’s the inoffensive, cottage-y bed:

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However….

My great-grandmother, Original Flavor Hazel, had some exquisite furniture. I am the lucky recipient of several of her pieces, but my favorite is an antique four-poster bed. Unfortunately, because it was very old, it was very small – a bit smaller than a standard double bed. The bed lived in a storage unit, and then in our garage, and we never quite figured out what to do with it. I made several inquiries around town, but no one seemed interested in fabricating new rails and slats to make it a queen-sized bed.

Last month, Jason decided he would do it himself.

Bless his heart.

I’m so impressed with my husband in so many ways, but his determination is truly remarkable. He’s not a trained woodworker, but he did a beautiful job. He cut new rails, stained them, and bolted the whole thing together.

The first time we assembled the bed, we realized that our modern box spring was putting the top of the mattress almost four feet off the ground. Getting in bed was like trying to mount a horse. So Jason put a piece of plywood over the slats to create a platform bed, which was a significant improvement.

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And here’s the bed in its new home (with an adorable Hazel-shaped throw pillow):

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I dragged those posters around for over a decade, from Jacksonville to Alabama to Tallahassee, waiting for someone to help me turn a pile of high-end lumber into something useful and lovely. YES, THIS IS A METAPHOR.

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And if you know anyone who needs a queen-sized bed and boxspring, we have one we’ll sell for cheap….

 

 

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Four Months of Chicken

No, this isn’t some bizarre new food trend, it’s a Hazel update!

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Miss Miss will go back for her official checkup tomorrow, but judging by the condition of my arm muscles, she continues to gain weight. Judging by the rapid progression from “3-6 month” clothes to “6 month” clothes, she’s growing lengthwise, too.

Hazel still loves: Water. She loves her bath, and even ventured into the shower on Saturday night, which she enjoyed. She also loves to watch us eat, and seems to think it highly unfair that we don’t share our food with her.

Hazel now loves: Regular naps! She used to catnap during the day, for 15-20 minutes at a time, but now she takes a couple of longer, distinct naps during the day. She also loves laughing and “talking” to us.

What’s Hazel up to? At the beginning of September, she rolled over (front to back) four days in a row. Then she stopped. Now she just does pushups during tummy time. She’s working on the gun show. Hazel appears to be in the early stages of teething – drooling like a waterfall and gnawing on everything in sight. Tyler got teeth when he was four months old, so this is not a huge surprise. Hazel has gained increased control over her arms and hands, and can reach out to grasp objects with better accuracy. She only occasionally hits herself in the face.

How’s everyone else? Pretty good! The kids are all back in school, so they’re busy with homework and extracurriculars and youth group and friends and whatnot. I am still enjoying being home with Hazel, although the afternoon student pickup is kind of a beating. When I have to get all three kids (at three different schools), I leave home at 2:15 and don’t return until 4:45. I’ve started referring to my car as the Mobile Command Unit.

That’s about it! We’re all excited about fall (soups and jeans and pumpkins, oh my).

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WIWW: Emerging

A quick look at the archives confirms that I have not posted a WIWW in seven months.

What can I say? I’ve been busy. I gestated a baby and have been tending to her (extensive!) needs. I’ve also been struggling with very typical postpartum body issues, blah blah blah.

I apologize – these are iPhone pictures, but mama needed some accountability.

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I look completely thrilled to be here, but honestly I was just trying to get my clothes in the shot. I’m out of practice! This entire outfit is from Loft, ranging from 4 years old to 2 months old. I wore the incredibly comfortable maxi skirt and tank top around the house, but added the cardigan and jewelry for errand-running.

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Simple silver necklace, pearl studs, sock bun. The humidity today approached 100%, so hair down was not an option.

But I felt like I lacked something. Some accessory that would make me look complete.

Found it! Perfect.

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The Black Arts: Pizza Dough

Pizza. I love it. It’s probably my favorite food. Whether topped with fig, arugula, and prosciutto, or good old pepperoni and mushroom, I could eat it at least once a week (okay, more like five times a week).

I’ve been making my own pizza dough for about five years, which in this house means hundreds of crusts. Whenever I tell people I make my own dough, they get super-impressed. Don’t be impressed! It’s easy.

This is how I make pizza dough. It’s not THE BEST RECIPE EVARRRRR or THE LAST PIZZA DOUGH RECIPE YOU’LL EVER NEED or anything like that. But once you master the basic technique, you can fiddle with it until it’s perfect for you.

Okay, here we go.

Round up your usual suspects:

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That’s a stand mixer, all-purpose flour, the dough hook attachment to your stand mixer, yeast, salt, a teaspoon, a one-cup measure, whole wheat flour (if you’re feeling virtuous), and honey. Not pictured: olive oil. Grab that, too.

Squeeze some honey into a bowl. Don’t measure. Just squeeze:
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Add one cup of pretty warm tap water (like a nice hot bath, not scalding). Then add two teaspoons of yeast. If you buy yeast in packets, use one packet.

Stir that until the yeast granules dissolve. Put the bowl somewhere quiet and preferably warm for 10 minutes. While that’s happening, mix together your flour and salt. If you want a whole wheat crust, use 1 cup whole wheat flour and 2 cups regular flour. If you are WHITE BREAD 4EVA, use 3 cups of all-purpose flour. I throw in about a teaspoon of salt. Drizzle in three to four tablespoons of olive oil and mix it around.

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By now your ten minutes should be up, and your yeast mixture should look like this:

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That creamy foam? That’s yeast farts. They’re delicious. If your yeast mixture doesn’t look like that, it’s for one of two reasons: your water temperature was too hot or too cold, or you had bad yeast. Just take a deep breath and try again. Don’t panic. It’s just bread, people.

Pour the yeast mixture into the flour mixture. Attach the dough hook to the mixer and turn that baby on low.

First it will look like this:

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Then, after a minute, it will look like this:

And finally, it will come together like this:

If it hasn’t come together after a few minutes of mixing, add water, a tablespoon at a time. If it’s soupy, add more flour, about a quarter-cup at a time. Just tweak it. Eventually the hook will collect all the dough. When that happens, turn the machine to the next higher setting and let it go for about 5-7 minutes.

Now take the dough out (the bowl should be relatively clean) and pour in a tablespoon of olive oil. Put the dough back in and roll it around to coat it with the oil.

Then let it take a nap for about an hour.

(Shhhh.)

After an hour, it should be about twice as big. It is at this point that we get to bust out the PIZZA FIST OF JUSTICE.

Punch the dough. Dooooo it.

Punch the dough until it’s all deflated.

At this point you have three options:

1. Freeze it. Put the deflated dough in a freezer bag, label it, and freeze it. When you’re ready to use it, take it out of the freezer a couple of hours ahead of time and let it thaw in a bowl.

2. Use it now. Let the dough rise again, for about 30 minutes to an hour, then stretch it out on a pizza pan. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes, top, then bake until your toppings are appropriately melty/hot.

3. Use it tomorrow. Put the bowl with the dough in your fridge. When you’re ready to use it the next day, let it come to room temperature for about 30 minutes before stretching.

Recipe, for those who like that kind of thing:

1 cup warm water
2 tsp. active dry yeast, or one packet
1-2 TB honey

Combine in a small bowl. Let sit in a warm place for 10 minutes.

3-4 cups flour
3-4 TB olive oil
1 tsp. salt

Combine in the large bowl of your stand mixer.

When yeast has proofed, pour into flour mixture. Mix on low for 3-5 minutes, then on medium-low for 5 minutes, until dough has cleared the sides of the bowl and is smooth. Remove dough; drizzle oil into bowl and roll dough in oil until coated. Let sit, covered, for 1 hour.

Punch down dough. Follow instructions for freezing or using above.

 

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A Conversation with Lucius

Jason: Lucius, are you hungry?

Windy: He’s a lab. Ergo, he’s hungry.

Lucius: Ergo! That’s a fun new word! What does it mean? Like, “Can we er…..go to the park?”

Jason: No, Lucius, that’s not quite right.

Lucius: Maybe we should er……go fill my food bowl?

Windy: (giggling) Sorry,  buddy, that’s not right either.

Lucius: You can er….go to hell.

 
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