Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas Mayhem

Why O looks so shell-shocked I'm not sure...This was the first holiday (counting birthdays, easter, anything) in forever that he actually slept past 6. Usually he's up at 4 and is a wreck all day.  Don't you love our rad tree? This is the cut-out/flat pack tree's second christmas....and maybe the last, it's looking so sad and is nearly broken.   The kids cut it out of backerboard with a leatherman and put ornament hanging holes in with a crooked hand drill.  We saw and ad for a 2-meter tall fake palm tree and we wanted it BAD.  But it was expensive (2M kwacha./$400) and when we saw it in person it was really lame.  I mean really really lame.  If it goes on sale after Christmas.....I might have to spring for it.
The kids had a few scavenger hunts to find christmas presents...the first was almost eaten -- two clues were hidden inside two crepes!

...and the kids sorting out more clues.

Santa completed the TINTIN collection this year!  (Caveat... we're taking a pass on 'tintin in the congo' -- one that most publishers agree was from another era and could be left out of the reprints.)  Most interesting is the 'last' book -- a collection of papers from Herge's notebook, his unfinished notes for the book he was working on when he died

Can they EVER have enough legos?? (Thanks Santa Anna!)
Daddy-O modeling the most hideous awesome shirt ever.  Thing 2 INSISTED on sewing something christmas eve...all the shops were closed and the traffic was too thick to go out anyway, and so he picked THIS out of the fabric box.  It happens to be the lining of our couch (under the cushions) so if he ever is looking for a good hiding place, he'll be perfectly camouflaged.  

Enjoying the first episode of the "Barefoot Detectives"
 (Note:  TJ's wearing the shirt that Thing 2 used as the pattern for his elephant tunic creation)

TJ's missing present was on the roof.  Here is Thing 2 deciding AGAINST climbing along the open balcony railing.

"What?"  Approach attempt #2 -- send the kid up a rotten wooden ladder to retrieve your present!

an afternoon with the new toys:  underwater camcorder and the body board.  (happy that the sun decided to make an appearance)

Future Jaques Cousteau.  Filming his shadow at the bottom of the swimming pool.

SHARK ATTACK! Swim for your lives!!

I got so excited about this I forgot to put them in TJ's stocking.  Just imagine dancing rings around your tastebuds with juicy hot dog flavoured chips.  Mmmmmmm, DISCOS! Let's snack?  (ooof, let's not!)
"Dear Leader, Your breath is so fresh!"  This was the bestest stocking stuffer from last year.  So good, in fact that I really couldn't think of anything (excepting the Hot Dog Discos) to top it.  

snow-globes for dessert.  oh how I love from-scratch chocolate pudding.

Friday, December 21, 2012


The thing I like best about portraits is not so much getting a good picture, it's getting the picture where you can SEE the personalities.  With this set of photos I think you can also start confidently putting bets on where they'll be in 15 years. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Reclaimed land

A few months back I was lamenting the appearance of a bull-dozer (yes, an ACTUAL BULLDOZER!) in the marsh behind our house.  Since we moved in there was this amazing greenbelt of sorts between our house in Jesmondine and the next street of houses over in Roma.  The bull dozers took out EVERYTHING: mango trees, sugar cane, huge clumps of banana palms...everything.  Then they burned anything remaining.  They cleared the land right up to our wall-fence* and left a swath of charred dry brown earth.  A few structures were completed and I'm sure there are plans for more.  Construction was fast and furious as the Rainy Season deadline approached.

Now that the rain has finally come (sort of), the marsh is back to it's green lush self again.  The bananas and cane are back and the grass is shoulder high most everywhere.  The birds are so happy but are missing the trees for sure.  There are a few new paths which bring a steady stream of people by our place.  It's a shame it's not preserved but we're happy for now at least to have the marsh back, even if it's only temporary.

*A wall-fence is an actual thing.  In most cases it's a big, tall concrete block wall topped with glass shards and electrified wire. I think it's probably one word even:  wallfence.

little chefs and foodie potlucks

We had a party a bit ago...having only Americans over  for a meal wasn't snobby enough for us so we narrowed the invite list to from just people from Seattle.  The little chefs made Jamie Oliver's Fish Cakes.  In Jamie's early days as the young phenom Naked Chef he was too cool for me and I resisted his siren call.  No I'm a total convert and have 4 of his cookbooks that I use regularly. Maybe Santa will bring me another?   For the fishcake recipe I just told them what to do -- they did everything but the frying. THIS recipe is easy in that there are no fancy steps but there are many ingredients and a LOT of steps -- cook the fish, boil and mash the potatoes, cut up the spices, zest and squeeze the lemons, mix the 'cake,s' form the cakes, (fry the cakes), plate them....make the dip/dressing (essential) and then EAT THEM.  Thing 2 did it all but didn't even eat a single fishcake.  The food everyone brought was incredible, including the goat cheese stuff dates wrapped in proscuttio with a warm brown sugar and butter glaze.  God Bless Sub-Saharan-Seattlites and their fancy potlucks. You guys ROCK.

For the christmas season, we can't stop making this easy, delish Pumpkin bread:


3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin (we usually use 3/4 of the big can -- because MORE is better, right? I think it makes and already moist bread SUPER moist)
3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves (we leave these out - we only have cloves from Zanzibar and they are WICKED fragrant...really too strong to use in most baking dishes)
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice (who has allspice?  we don't!)
1/2 cup water
In a large bowl, combine sugar, oil and eggs. Add pumpkin and mix well. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, cloves and allspice; add to the pumpkin mixture alternately with water, beating well after each addition.
Pour into two greased 9-in. x 5-in. loaf pans. Bake at 350° for 60-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Yield: 2 loaves.
Today we made a glaze, too -- powdered sugar, milk, vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon...kinda noggy and festive and maybe a bit over the top.

Monday, December 3, 2012


Are we having fun yet?

Starry Night

Hello, Orion!

Hello, House!