Right now

Right now, we’re sitting in our shared hospital room, both absorbed in our phones as we listen to our roommate’s family prepare to be discharged today. He was born only four days before Juniper and today he goes home.

Right now I’m still trying to absorb everything that’s happening to me, to my new daughter, to my husband, to us. I’m still trying not to feel the urge to cry every time I think about the fact that she needs another surgery in seven weeks. And that there’s a chance her bowel obstructions will be so bad that she’ll need even a third procedure and we’ll be here for many months more.

Right now I’m trying to find my way back to thankfulness and positivity, as Andreas and I vowed to do a few days ago. But it’s hard. To not feel sorry for us and envious of others. To not wish more than anything for my daughter not to have a non-functioning g-tube coming out of her stomach that caused her to throw up everywhere yesterday while Andreas and I tried to take a rare break from the hospital at home. And caused her to get her NG tube threaded back through her nose into her stomach.

To not wish she didn’t need the central line going straight into the center of her tiny chest, keeping her alive on liquid nutrition instead of the breastmilk I struggle to pump 8 times per day. It’s hard to ignore the urge to feed her, to hold her without the tubes and wires, to take her out of this place and let it be breeze and sunshine that furrow her brow, not the flicker of florescent light over her face or the annoyance of yet another group of vital signs being taken.

Right now I watch my husband watch over his daughter, paying meticulous attention to every aspect of her care, making mental notes for tomorrow’s rounds, protecting and loving her so fiercely that even I, who knows his heart better than any other, have been taken aback.

I watch my parents do their best to support and protect me as I’m hurdled against my will down this terrifying path.

I watch my daughter take it all in stride and patience. Her chubby cheeks, her perfect lips, her bright gray eyes observing all in calm wonder.

That’s what’s happening right now.

Fine art

Hello my dears, I hope you all had lovely weekends wherever you were (and happy belated Easter to those who celebrated). We mostly laid low this weekend though we did enjoy the new Pinkberry that just opened in Harvard Square and managed to have a lovely sunny breakfast outside at our neighborhood cafe before the sky got all cloudy. And despite the dismal weather on Saturday, I did drag myself out of the house for a little mani-pedi pampering (am currently sporting Essie’s Coat Azure on my hands and Big Spender on my toes).

Just wanted to start the week with these incredible animated GIFs or “cinemagraphs” as created by engaged couple photographer Jamie Beck and motion graphics artist Kevin Burg (as seen on their Tumblr, first spotted here). Aren’t they gorgeous?! I love how they effortlessly capture a moment in time in a living, breathing way.

Happy Monday!

http://kevinburg.com/tumblr/fm2ugifs/train-repeat-615.gif

 

NYC Photographer Jamie Beck

Scuffins

When I was in San Francisco in May (jeez, that feels like forever ago), I discovered a delectable little treat called the scuffin. What is a scuffin, you may ask? Well it’s really quite simple. It is a scone, in the shape of a muffin. (Scone + muffin = scuffin, get it?)

And at Frog Hollow Farm bakery in the Ferry Building, they stuff their scuffins full of their incredibly yum conserve (in this case, nectarine plum). It was flaky and moist without being delicate, and it was clearly made with some blend of whole grain flours because it had a coarser, nuttier texture to it. Needless to say, I was more than a little impressed with the scuffin (in the background, below. That’s a blueberry tart on the left.).

Scuffin

And yet the whole time I was eating it, I was thinking “I can make this.” I thought, if I can get a whole wheat scone recipe, bake it in a muffin tin, and stuff it full of jam, it could be pretty darn close.

And so, I did. Last weekend, when my mom was visiting. It was my first attempt at replicating another bakery’s work and overall I think they turned out pretty well although I might tweak them a bit next time.

For one, I couldn’t find any type of plum jam or conserve. The closest I got was beach plum jelly, which is delicious, but to me, the mealy viscosity of jam is part of what makes a scuffin, a scuffin. Also, a deeper muffin pan like this one would have allowed for more jam to fit inside. Finally, because I had whole grain pastry flour and buckwheat flour on hand in addition to whole wheat flour (thanks to my new favorite baking book Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-Grain Floursby Kim Boyce), I sifted those into the mix as well. Next time I might skip the pastry flour though. It did add a delicate, flaky quality to the scuffins that was delicious but that veered away from the original that I was so desperately trying to mimic.

By the way, you can order Frog Hollow’s amazing conserves straight from their website. Here is the one from the scuffin I had. I’m just way too cheap for $9 plus shipping.

Shelley’s Scuffins

Yield: 10

1/3 cup cold butter, cut into small cubes
1 cup whole wheat flour*
1/2 cup whole grain pastry flour
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup buttermilk (+ 1-2 tablespoons)
Jam or jelly of your choice

*Can use all whole wheat flour, in which case you would need 1 3/4 cups.

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and grease your muffin tin.

2. Sift dry ingredients (flours, sugar, salt, baking powder), then cut in cold butter with a pastry blender or strong fork until it resembles a coarse meal.

3. Stir in the egg and just enough buttermilk for the dough to form.

4. Press a lump of dough into each cup of the muffin tin, so that there is a well in the center. Fill with jam or jelly of your choice. Place a few clumps or balls of dough on the top of each scuffin.

5. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Immediately remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes before enjoying.

6. Come back over here and leave a comment on how they turned out!

Homeownership

So homeownership is a bitch. (Hey, why craft up some fancy introduction when that’s what I really want to say?) You’d think moving into your own place that you actually own would be the cat’s pajamas but let me tell you: it is SO NOT.

In the beginning, sure, we were punch drunk on homeownership. I remember looking around the bathroom one day thinking, I own these baseboards. I own this vanity. I own this little metal thing that holds up my toilet paper.

I own this toilet.

But then the shit started to hit the fan. For starters, it’s easy to forget that when you own a house, you’re responsible for it. There’s no calling up the landlord to tell them there’s a giant piece of siding hanging from the side of your house that bangs up against it everytime the wind blows and makes your heart race in the middle of the night because you’re SURE there’s a robber and Babe! BABE! Wake up! Do you hear those footsteps?

Nope, can’t do that.

Or how about if your house has this inexplicable tendency to let out what could only politely be called a loud belch every couple of hours but actually sounds more like a foghorn that you thought only you could hear inside your house but which is actually blasting straight in the direction of your next door neighbor’s house who happens to have a newborn baby but who also happens to be too kind to say anything about it? About your belching house? How about that, landlord?

Landlord?

Oh right. Heh. That’s me.

$%^$#%#&^!

This whole issue was only brought home (no pun intended) last week when our basement conveniently flooded with two inches of water when Andreas was conveniently out of town. It wasn’t until I was vacuuming up murky basement water with our neighbor’s shop vac (yes that same neighbor with the baby who is too polite to tell us that our house has taken to yelling at their house every so often) and sloshing that murky water over to a makeshift piping operation near the basement door that it hit me. Literally. In the face. The pipe leading outside burst out of the pump sending aforementioned disgusting basement water all over me and it was then that I realized that homeownership is a bitch.

And then, we’re doing our taxes at H&R Block (you know what’s not a bitch? The first-time homebuyer tax credit, athankyouverymuch Mr. President.) when we realize that we paid for our quarterly taxes to the city of Beverly when we actually didn’t have to, because our mortgage company was apparently covering that for us. Hi. Who was supposed to inform us of this? We’re just lowly first-time homeowners. We don’t know these things! Isn’t someone supposed to tell us these things? So now we’ve got to call the city of Beverly to try to get our money back. Groan.

And speaking of you, city of Beverly, thanks a whole bunch for not taking our recycling this week. I won’t even complain about the fact that you only pick up recycling every other week which, to me, seems pretty ridiculous because we generate more of that stuff than we do regular trash and we would generate more but we don’t have a place to store all of it because you only pick up every other week. (Okay so I did complain.) I’m sorry it wasn’t sorted for you. We didn’t even know you needed it sorted.

Not to get up on a high horse, but in Brookline, we didn’t have to sort anything. There, it was just like, “all recycling is good recycling so give us what you got.” And also, in Brookline, they pick up recycling every week. Just saying.

Sigh. I kind of miss renting. And Brookline. I know, I know. The house is a good investment, blah blah blah. You know what I think sometimes? I’m too young for this $%^&.

We haven’t quite bonded with Beverly yet either.  So far it just seems like it’s: 1. Far from Boston. 2. Lacking great restaurants and shopping. And 3. Being very difficult on the matter of recycling. I’m giving it until the summer though to really decide where I stand. Because like I said, Beverly is a shore town, a beach town. So you can’t really judge it in the winter, I say. And those few days last week when the weather was wonderful, I gave one of its oceanfront parks a chance. And then I went back three times in one week because it was just. so. beautiful. So there’s hope for you yet, Beverly.

But as for homeownership, well, we’re kind of stuck with it anyways. That was the other thing we learned at H&R Block. If we sell or even rent this place before we’ve lived here for three years? Adios tax credit. So, yeah. We’re stuck. Which leads me back to my original point: homeownership? Is a bitch.

Footnote

Mumbled conversation with A just before falling asleep last night:

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”

“You know, we forgot to buy [plane] tickets to the beach.”

(pause)

“I know.”

“And we didn’t write our vows.”

(longer pause)

“I know.”

“And we forgot to pay the NStar bill.”

(even longer pause)

“I know.”

“Maybe we weren’t so productive after all.”

Snore.