March 30, 2007

2 things you didn't know about me until this very moment

  1. I forgot to put any kind of styling product in my hair this morning and didn't realize it until I went to the bathroom a couple of hours after the mess on my head had dried.

    Imagine my surprise when Roseanne Roseannadanna was staring back at me in the mirror.

    My hair this morning.

    The three bobby pins I had in my pocket are barely keeping things under control.

  2. I fit into my pre-pregnancy summer pants for the first time since I got knocked up. This almost negates the psychological damage caused by #1.

    Posted by erika 'round about 12:29 PM | Comments (1)

March 29, 2007

Lemon Cheesecake with Shortbread Cookie Crust and Raspberry Sauce

Cheesecake recipe adapted from LEMON CHEESECAKE WITH SHORTBREAD COOKIE CRUST at epicurious.com. Recipe by Executive Pastry Chef James Irby, Kuleto's Trattoria, Burlingame, CA

Raspberry Sauce adapted from The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

Lemon Cheesecake with Shortbread Cookie Crust and Raspberry Sauce


Ingredients:
For shortbread crust:
1/2 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup finely ground shortbread cookies

For cheesecake:
2 pounds cream cheese
1 cup mascarpone cheese
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 teaspooons lemon zest
6 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

For sauce:
1 12 oz package frozen raspberries
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/3 cup sugar (optional)

Preparation
Make crust:
Preheat oven to 350° F. Wrap a 9-inch springform pan with a couple layers of aluminum foil. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together on medium high speed for 3-4 minutes. Add flour and ground cookies to the mixture and blend for 3-4 seconds until fully incorporated. Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the springform pan. Bake the crust at 350° F for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow the crust to cool completely.

Make cheesecake:
Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until light and smooth. Add the mascarpone cheese and sugar and continue to beat on medium speed. Add the eggs one at a time. Blend in the lemon zest and juice. Pour mixture into the cooled crust.

Set the cheesecake pan into a roasting pan, and add enough very hot water to the roasting pan to reach halfway up sides of the cheesecake pan. Place in a 350° F oven for approximately 1.5 hours or until the cake is set and the top is golden brown. Remove the cake from the roasting pan and place on a wire rack. Remove aluminum foil from pan as soon as the cake cools down a bit. Please be careful, the aluminum foil will most likely be filled with hot water and butter. Allow cake to cool slightly, run a sharp knife around the inside of the pan, then place the cake in the refrigerator overnight.

Lemon Cheesecake with Shortbread Cookie Crust

Raspberry Sauce (make the day before):
Place frozen raspberries in a fine strainer above a large bowl. Allow berries to thaw completely. Push on thawed berries a bit with a spoon to release juice. You should get about a cup of juice or less.

Put juice in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and boil until it thickens and is reduced to about 1/4 cup. Keep stirring while it is boiling. Lightly oil a heat-proof cup or bowl and take syrup off heat and put in bowl. Let cool a bit.

Raspberry Sauce

I mash and stir the berries in the strainer (my strainer is a very fine plastic one) until there are only seeds left. Add this juice and the lemon juice to the reduced syrup. Add the sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved.

Raspberry Sauce

Can keep refrigerated for about a week. Or you can freeze the sauce for later.

Posted by erika 'round about 04:49 PM | Comments (5)

March 27, 2007

10 things you didn't know about Sophie

    She:
  1. upgraded her nickname for herself from Sose to Sosie.
  2. wore rainbow leggings all weekend (to bed and all day long). By request. "Ray Bo. Pants. 'kay." She got very upset when we had to take them off to change her diaper. Very stressed and would hold them tightly in her chubby little hands until we were done with the diaper and we could put them back on her again.

    Ray Bo. Pants. 'kay.

  3. is a puddle jumper extraordinaire. "Pud Duhl. Water. Wet. Pash! Boots." She could spend hours and hours stomping back and forth in puddles.
  4. is obsessed with Monsters Inc. Yes, she is too young. In our defense, she wakes up, on the dot, at 5:25 every frickin' morning. WIDE awake. Neither Aaron nor I are morning people. Sulley and Mike Wazowski are our babysitters until the coffee kicks in. She LOVES Boo ("Girl") and Sulley and they have replaced "COW!" for most requested drawings.
  5. loves to pretend things (like a cracker or her teddy bear) are really heavy and she'll get all serious and huffs and puffs and acts all dramatic: "Uhhhh, heavy" as she tries to pick them up. I find this tremendously hilarious.
  6. calls belly buttons "beeps" and loves to lift my shirt and kiss and hug my beep. Hugging beeps involves a belly flop and "Aw, beep. Hug."
  7. also loves to "beep" things with her belly. This involves sticking her belly out until her "beep" touches them. She knocks over towers of blocks by beeping them, and beeps the fridge, the chair, Otto, Daddy, and etc. Yes, I know what it sounds like.
  8. came very close to counting to 10 this weekend. She forgets 4 and 7, but gets everything else right.
  9. has invented a new game that seems to mimic my leaving for work. She gets her fake car keys and a bag that will fit over her arm, and then walks away saying: "'kay, bye!". Last night, she said "See ya!" instead of bye. Now "see ya" is her favorite saying. The game also involves Aaron and I saying "see ya!" and walking around with keys and bags. The game is still being defined. What she likes best is when she turns around and I say: "Hey! You came back!" She'll even request that I say it: "Hey! Mommy. Back!" Aaron got home last night in the middle of the new "See Ya!" version of the game and he had a hard time keeping it together. He's a big softy.
  10. is incredibly ticklish on her neck. I'm trying not to take advantage of this knowledge, but the big belly laughs and shrieks that ensue? They are very, very hard to resist.

Posted by erika 'round about 04:18 PM | Comments (3)

March 23, 2007

Spring*!

I got home today to find Sophie and Aaron walking around outside. Temperatures topped 60° and it was sunny and lovely. Sophie had a blast splashing in the puddles, much to Aaron's chagrin (he's a wimp and doesn't want to get wet or dirty). Ignore the snowbanks. To the untrained eye, it looks quite cold out. It wasn't. It was hard to convince her to come inside to eat dinner.

*fingers crossed.

Posted by erika 'round about 06:59 PM | Comments (2)

March 22, 2007

Seventeen Months!

Sophie's taking a bath. Aaron is helping. They are singing the alphabet together. She can get all the way up to about "j" by herself if she's playing around. The minute she sees we are intently listening, she stops. She'll fill in the blanks for us if we stop singing through the rest as well. "Now I...." is her answer if she hears the letters "y" or "z" in any context.

She has graduated from saying "Q" for thank you (I'm still going to make thank you cards with just a "q" on the front) to saying, just this week, "Cank Cue". For everything. Every time she thinks we're going to say thank you to her for helping with something, she pre-empts us with cank cue. Or "Welcome" - that just started tonight.

There are lots of little sentences. Or more like sentence fragment sandwiches with some cute babbled filling.

Allow me to translate: "Eeeee! Down. Bye. Bye, bye, pasta."

Her hair is getting longer, slowly. She has wiry, crazy curls in the back that we're constantly attempting to keep from becoming matted Brillo pads.

She's a daredevil - constantly asking us to "Fie!" her around the room. Or, the latest, "Fwing!" She wants to go fast, faster, FASTER! "Fast! Daddy! Mommy! Fie!" Big toothy grin with a mad gleam in her eyes. Flushed from excitement. She loves to be scared. I'll hide and she'll come walking along and I'll jump out and say "Boo!" and she laughs hysterically. The best laugh you've ever heard.

The night weaning went well. I've hestitated to talk about it because I didn't want to jinx things. She still nurses to sleep and when the alarm beeps in the morning (5:30 a.m.) but we've cut out the middle of the night feedings. It was a bit rough at first but there was lots of hugs and snuggling and kisses and reassurances and she eventually realized that this was the plan moving forward. It took about 3 nights with a lot of crying and anger (but we were right there with her, so she wasn't scared as well) and then, boom, she slept almost straight through. There are still nights when she wakes up but she falls back asleep pretty quickly. We're trying to be relaxed about it because she's entering the 18-month zone and it is apparently a very bad time for sleep. I finally feel like I'm catching up on sleep and she seems to be sleeping a lot more soundly as well.

The word explosion continues. We lost count around 250 a couple of months ago. Daily, there are new words and she repeats and understands so much of what we say. It's amazing to watch. I wonder if we're the only ones who understand her. She seems to speak so clearly to me, but then I see other people furrowing their brows in an attempt to understand her. I guess that is just the way with mommies, though.

This month has been all about laughing and talking and running and scaring and giggling and hugging and squealing and flying.

When I sign (and say): "Mommy loves Sophie!" to her and touch her belly on "Sophie", her face lights up with pure joy. Her dimpled smile and sparkling eyes are contagious. I am instantly warmed and I cannot help but whisper to myself: I got the best one.

Posted by erika 'round about 05:48 PM | Comments (1)

March 21, 2007

Happy First Day of Spring!

Too bad it's about 20° outside at the moment.

I've helped organize a "Spring-off!" at work - basically two cooking competitions: one is a soup/chowder/chili cook-off and the other is a cookie/bar bake-off.

I made a yummy crockpot soup by very loosely following a recipe and putting a little of this and a little of that into a pot and letting it cook while I enjoyed a beer (or two). I can't give you the details until later today. Spies and such. I will tell you that we tried it last night and I think it's a keeper. Too bad my family isn't as into the spicy foods as I am. Oops! I've said too much.

I was going to bake cookies, too, but I don't want to win all the prizes. ;)

The pot is now sitting outside in the car because there is no room in the fridge here. It's a big crockpot. Aaron's going to be switching cars with me after he drops off the Snopher and I left him a message to not, under any circumstances and under sure penalty of painful deadly death, drive away with the soup when he heads to school.

Posted by erika 'round about 06:45 AM | Comments (1)

March 19, 2007

Weekend Recap

We ended up getting about 13 inches of very heavy, icy snow (at least that's what Aaron says) by the time we woke up Saturday morning. And we had been planning on leaving around 9 to head down to my friend M's house to visit her, her husband and their adorable daughter. Except it took Aaron almost 3 hours to plow and shovel our driveway and steps. And I wasn't about to pressure him to leave right after he finished. I could see him out there, puffing and bitching about New England and why the hell did we move from California? There's no f'ing snow in California and now I have to push this f'ing snowblower and get snow all up in my face and up my sleeves and in my ears.

Anyhoo, we finally got on the road about 11. It was slow going but the main highways were clear. There was one close call when a van in front of us spun around in a complete circle and then ended up facing the wrong direction. Luckily, he was a few cars in front of us and everyone managed to stop without incident. If I was shaken up, that driver must have been pissing his pants. Holy crap!

Fun, relaxing weekend was had by all. The two girls got to play together and Sophie was in awe of all the toys. This was probably the first time she realized there were actually DORA! and BOOTS! dolls in the world. And then once the girls went to bed, the adults got to stay up and eat yummy food - curry chicken! and the rest of the cheesecake! - and drink beer and play darts and we didn't even have to hire babysitters! So nice not to have to drive home that night. Sophie was up at the crack of dawn and we managed to keep her quiet with us for almost 2 hours and then she couldn't take it anymore. There were DORA and BOOTS dolls right outside that door! She was going through withdrawal in a bad way.

Also, Sophie has started this really weird laugh that sounds like she's having a wheezing fit - or an asthma attack. Neither Aaron nor I laugh like that, so we're now looking at the kids at daycare to find the culprit. It's a little disconcerting.

We tried to get her to take a morning nap but she was having none of it. So, we left around noon and she slept for 2.5 hours in the car. Perfect.

All in all, a very, very, fantastically fun weekend.

Posted by erika 'round about 06:56 AM | Comments (1)

March 15, 2007

Spring has sprung! Oh, wait...never mind...

For the last few days, temperatures have been in the balmy 50-60 degree range. No coats! Sunshine! Actual robins out and about on the remaining old, dirty snowbanks. The witch-hazel bush in the backyard is blooming with pretty yellow flowers. There was talk of long walks and starting running again and barbequeing meat on the new, expanded patio out back.

But Mother Nature has a mean streak. She's a sadistic old crone bent on breaking our spirits with her cruel, cruel ways:

URGENT - WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TAUNTON MA
437 AM EDT THU MAR 15 2007

...A DEVELOPING NOREASTER WILL BRING THE POTENTIAL FOR SIGNIFICANT
SNOW AND SLEET ACCUMULATIONS FRIDAY INTO FRIDAY NIGHT...

I keep trying to think of an analogy for this. Nothing's coming close to the disappointment and despair on the face of everyone around here.

Posted by erika 'round about 06:45 AM | Comments (1)

March 14, 2007

Peanut Butter Cup Brownie Bottom Cheesecake

Here is my official entry into this month's "Hay, Hay, it's Donna Day" #10 -Cheesecake contest.

Update: Peabody's round-up of all the entries. Voting runs through March 24.

There was no way I was not going to enter this one.

I went back and forth and all around trying to figure out just which cheesecake I was going to make. Vanilla Blueberry? Raspberry Chocolate? English Toffee? And then my lovely coworker suggested Peanut Butter Cup and that sounded just too yummy not to try.

I hunted around for peanut butter chocolate cheesecake recipes and finally narrowed it down to two. I liked the brownie crust on one but the peanut butter cheesecake filling of the other.

I decided to pick the best parts of each recipe and combine them. And modify things a bit. Like change the milk chocolate chips to semi-sweet. And not use shortening in the decorative drizzle because, um, that sounded gross.

And then I found that the brownie bottom (makes my husband giggle every time) took up more space than planned in the pan, so I ended up with extra batter and another smaller cheesecake. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. Just something to keep in mind.

Presenting:

Peanut Butter Cup Brownie Bottom Cheesecake

Peanut Butter Cup Brownie Bottom Cheesecake

Brownie Crust:

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter chips
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1-1/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (I used Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla)
2 eggs
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cheesecake Filling:

2 lbs cream cheese, softened
5 eggs, at room temperature
1-1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup smooth peanut butter (not natural-style)
1/2 cups whipping cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
6 peanut butter cups, cut into quarters

(this made too much batter for me. Not sure how to cut down the portions. I was able to make an extra very slim 7" cheesecake with the leftover batter. So less than half was left over...)

Decoration:

6 peanut butter cups, cut carefully in half
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter chips

(this makes a lot more than you'll need for decorative purposes. I plan on using the extra to serve with the individual slices)
---------------------------------

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 9-inch springform pan with butter.

2. Stir together butter, sugar and vanilla in large bowl with spoon or wire whisk. Add eggs; stir until well blended. Stir in flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; blend well. Spread in prepared pan.

3. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until brownie begins to pull away from side of pan. Meanwhile make cheesecake layer (see below).

4. Immediately after removing brownie from oven, sprinkle milk chocolate chips, peanut butter chips and peanut butter cups over brownie surface. Spoon cheesecake mixture over chips. Turn down oven 325°.

This is just the crust section

Cheesecake Filling:

5. Beat cream cheese in bowl of electric mixer until smooth.

6. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

7. Add sugar, peanut butter and cream; mix until smooth.

8. Stir in vanilla.

9. Pour filling into prepared crust.

[I had extra batter that I put in a smaller springform pan at this point]

10. Double-wrap springform pan with aluminum foil to prevent water seeping in.

11. Place springform pan into a larger baking pan.

12. Pour hot water into the larger pan so that the water comes 1 inch up the sides of the springform pan.

13. Bake at 325 degrees 1-1/2 hours, or until firm and lightly browned.

14. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for one hour.

15. Run a knife along the edge of the cake to loosen it from the pan somewhat.

16. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before decorating. I tend to make cheesecakes a day ahead to let things set.

Cheesecake tip: to get the cake off the bottom of the springform pan, because most crusts have butter in them, you just need to heat up the bottom of the pan a bit and the cake should come off easily. I remove the sides, then hold the pan over a burner on my stove - set to LOW - for about 15 or so seconds. Whatever you can handle. Then run a long cake spatula under the cake and it should slip easily off the pan. Just be careful - the bottom of the cake is now very slippery.

17. Remove cake from pan and put on a pretty plate.

18. Bring whipping cream to boil in a small saucepan.

19. Remove from heat and add semi-sweet and peanut butter chips. Stir, stir, stir until melted and smooth.

20. Drizzle over cake and then add peanut butter cup halves around the edge of the cake.

Peanut Butter Cup Brownie Bottom Cheesecake

Peanut Butter Cup Brownie Bottom Cheesecake

Recipe credits:
Ruggles Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake
Brownie Bottomed Peanut Butter and Milk Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

Posted by erika 'round about 12:55 PM | Comments (9)

Save Veronica Mars!

Call The CW's Viewer Comment Line - you can call The CW's Viewer Comment Line at (818) 977-6878 and leave a comment about how much you love Veronica Mars, how disappointed you are that it has been replaced by Search for the Next Doll, and how much you want Veronica Mars to stay on the air.

http://www.saveveronicamars.tv/buzz.html#lifetime

I'd much rather watch a great character drama like Veronica Mars than the vacuous programming of Search for the Next Doll.

Posted by erika 'round about 06:45 AM | Comments (3)

Mmmm, cheesecake

So, I'm throwing my hat in the ring for the Hay, Hay, it's Donna Day! Cheesecake contest. I've adapted and co-opted and re-worked two recipes to come up with what smells and looks like a doozy of a cheesecake.

I haven't tasted it yet because I need to get photos of it after I've decorated the top. But I baked it last night and, oh my good gracious, it smells f'ing fantastic.

I'll give you a hint: peanut butter.

Okay, one more hint: chocolate.

This cheesecake might actually overshadow the Brownie Tower of Terror in extreme dessert indulgence.

More once I do the final decorating and take photos. I get to eat this one! Yay!

Posted by erika 'round about 06:27 AM | Comments (0)

March 13, 2007

Heroes

Did anyone else feel lost last night? Man, Monday night television sucks! I watched "New Adventures of Old Christine" and they just seem to be trying too hard. I don't like her brother and the other humor feels so forced.

Anyhoo, I got another email from Wireless:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Primatech Paper
Date: Mar 12, 2007 10:05 PM
Subject: new lead

I'm chasing down a new lead that I got from an unlikely source. Read more about it at http://www.samantha48616e61.com/. May need more help with all this soon.

Posted by erika 'round about 06:47 AM | Comments (1)

March 12, 2007

Hair that fits her personality

Sophie has inherited some very wily hair. Crazy, wiry, curly. But only in the back. The front is fairly straight and calm. She wakes up from naps with a nest on the back of her head. We do our best to detangle it but the minute she puts on a hat or she lays down or anyone looks at her funny, all bets are off.

The hair

Back of the rat's nest

Front view

In other news, there was a lot of snoozing and cuddling this weekend:

Saturday afternoon snoozing with Daddy

Also, we took advantage of the sun (SUN!) and played outside for a while:

There's a teletubbie in our driveway!

And ate some beans and acted silly:

And then learned how to hide and scare people as they walked by (I'm so proud of her for this). She even got Otto when he walked by. ;) This is her favorite, and only, hiding place.

Posted by erika 'round about 06:32 AM | Comments (2)

March 09, 2007

Wonky

I'm working on updating my banner/background. If things look wonky, it's most likely not your eyes. This time.

Update: 'Kay, that will have to do for now. Your thoughts?

Posted by erika 'round about 09:00 AM | Comments (4)

March 08, 2007

I can't get you out of my head

Or, why did the chicken cross the road? To escape the chicken-eating cow!

Holy crap. Thanks, K, for passing on the most disturbing thing I've ever read. Forever. Infinity.

March 08,2007 | CALCUTTA, India -- When his chickens started disappearing a few weeks ago, a farmer in eastern India figured dogs or jackals were to blame -- until he discovered his calf making a meal of his poultry.

"To catch the culprit, Moloy got up very early ... and to his disbelief found that it was his calf which came out from the cow shed and was eating the chickens alive," Debjyoti Chatterjee, a local resident who filmed the calf eating a chicken, said Thursday.

At least it isn't a carnivorous sheep. Not THAT would be frightening.

Posted by erika 'round about 11:46 AM | Comments (1)

Take this tooth and shove it

The neverending saga of my tooth implant continues.

"I'm putting it in using the strongest temporary cement we have. This implant has a history and I want to be able to get it out if I have to." My esteemed dentist continues, "And you're going to have to floss around the edges of this crown to keep a film from forming."

Two days after getting the crown permanently, ish, attached to the implant, it came out. While flossing. VERY CAREFULLY. Luckily, I just happened to be standing to the side of the sink (which does not have a stopper and, thus, would have been the end of a very, very expensive crown) and it fell into the trash can. GODDAMMIT!

I do not have time to get this thing put in again with permanent-ish cement.

I chose a highly competent dentist to fix the mess the not-at-all-sane dentist had made with the former implant. Unfortunately, he's a 1/2 hour drive away and I've now been to his office about 400 million times. EACH TIME, I have to leave work a couple of hours early or get here a couple of hours late because he only seems to work an hour a day. EACH TIME, I have to take time off from work and I'm slowly running down my once-hefty allotment of time off with this stupid tooth and with Sophie getting sick and with my daycare provider taking a week off. It's only March!

So, I've put off calling the dentist all week. The crown came off on Saturday. I pushed it back on and have been very careful around it all week. But it's loose and I have to go back in soon. I'm so sick and tired of all of this.

Posted by erika 'round about 10:21 AM | Comments (1)

Heroes: more from Wireless

Another email from Wireless leads me to her MySpace page.

Posted by erika 'round about 07:35 AM | Comments (0)

March 07, 2007

This sounds like a very bad idea

Rice genetically modified to produce human proteins....

"And even then, our correspondent adds, there are huge regulatory hurdles before food containing human DNA could actually be sold to consumers."

Hmm, I wonder why?

The rice is PEOPLE! It's PEEEEEOOOPPLLE!

Posted by erika 'round about 06:45 AM | Comments (0)

March 06, 2007

Heroes

We have to wait until April 23rd for the next episode??!!!???

Sylar is on the loose again. Mohinder was no match for him. What the hell did he do to Mohinder, by the way? He was attached to the ceiling somehow. Or was Sylar holding him up there with telekinesis?

Peter: this must be the scar that future Hiro was talking about. Also, that chunk that fell to the ground? Was that Peter's annoying bangs? I'm surprised Peter didn't turn invisible or maybe Sylar caught him by surprise and he didn't have a chance. "I remember you." Creeeeeepy.

Crazy that the Petrelli's mom knows all about Claire. AND the Haitian! So she was the one trying to protect Claire. Man, who else is involved?

So Nikki was able to subdue Jessica long enough to let Nathan escape. Eh. Bored with her for the moment.

The new woman's power is pretty awesome. She is such a bitch! Although that is a cool power and it'd probably go to my head, too. She's Mystique! I knew she was Bennet's wife at the end. I'm surprised he wasn't more suspicious because he actually knew about her power. What is her name? I missed it.

Hiro has his sword! Ando is a security guard! How was Hiro able to bring Ando to the future? Just by holding onto him? Or does Ando have powers, too? Please let at least one character not have powers.

Malcolm McDowell. Lots of people thought it was Donald Sutherland. Actually, until my sister pointed out that Malcolm had been cast, I thought it was Donald, too. Malcolm hasn't aged well.

What else?

Posted by erika 'round about 06:45 AM | Comments (6)

March 05, 2007

Oh, Kiss, Hug, Beep

Sophie is a very affectionate child. Her favorite things all get lots of kisses and hugs. And not just her favorite animals or characters in books.

Apparently she loves her toes and she was kissing and hugging them in the bath the other night. To be that flexible.

She also calls belly buttons "beeps" (probably because we give them little pokes and say "Beep!"). There are many mornings when she wakes up and we're not ready to get out of bed and she'll ask to see my "beep" and then she'll kiss it and then hug it ("Kiss" "Oh!" "Hug") and then more kisses and hugs. It's very charming.

Her other favorite activity at the moment is to have us build towers with her Melissa & Doug bricks and then "beep" them. This entails walking towards the tower with her belly pushed forward until the tower falls. She also "beeps" cabinets and Otto and chairs and our legs.

In other news, I'm slowing weaning her of her middle of the night feedings and I haven't wanted to say anything in case I jinx things. So, maybe I'll tell you more at the end of the week.

The snowstorm Thursday night/Friday morning brought us about 3 or so inches of very heavy snow with a layer of ice. Lots of sleet and freezing rain for the drive into work. Lots of flooding and slushiness and yuck, blech, ugh. The beautiful white snow quickly became black and brown and ugly. All done, Winter, all done.

Posted by erika 'round about 06:39 AM | Comments (0)

March 02, 2007

Iraq Insurgency for beginners

Very informative article clarifying just who is shooting whom in Iraq.

Describe the insurgency.

You have to be careful when you say "insurgency." You have to distinguish between the Shiite militias and the actual insurgency, which is the Sunni groups. Most of the Shiite militia activity is not directed at the U.S., it's directed at the Sunnis. The Sunni insurgency, meanwhile, is directed at everyone -- the U.S., the Iraqi government, the militias.

The best way to divide it up is into three camps. You have Sunni nationalists, initially a large portion of the insurgency; the moderate Sunni Islamists, who use Islamic terminology and talk about establishing a government based on Sharia law; and you have the Salafists, like the group Al-Qaida in Iraq. To them, the fight is not about preserving the borders of Iraq, it's about revolution, about rebuilding something completely new on the basis of some kind of idyllic Muslim empire.

Has the U.S. invasion, in fact, strengthened al-Qaida?

Definitely. And this is the depressing thing. The hardcore true believers of al-Qaida at one time were probably 10 percent of the insurgent groups. Now they're 50 percent. Al-Qaida is growing in places it shouldn't. You have groups like the Islamic Army of Iraq that have transitioned from being traditional insurgents to extremist ones. Or take a popular insurgent group called the 1920 Revolution Brigades. The very name of the group has a nationalist, not Islamist meaning. And yet very recently, the head of al-Qaida's Islamic State in Iraq issued a statement in which he said that people from the 1920 Revolution Brigade were now fighting alongside al-Qaida. The U.S. is failing miserably at containing the spread of al-Qaida.

and this:

Would al-Qaida have blown up the mosque if the U.S. wasn't in Iraq?

There wouldn't be an al-Qaida in Iraq if the U.S. wasn't there. The story of al-Qaida in Iraq begins in 2003. We handed al-Qaida exactly what it was looking for, a real war in the Middle East where it could lead the way. Al-Qaida is like a virus. It goes for weak victims and it uses conflicts to breed. Iraq gives al-Qaida a training ground, a place to put recruits in combat. If they come back from battle, you have people who have fought together, trained together, you have a military unit. As Richard Clarke has said, it was almost like Osama bin Laden was trying to vibe into George Bush the idea: "Invade Iraq, invade Iraq." This was an opportunity they seized with amazing alacrity. As brutal and terrifying as what they've done is, you have to acknowledge they capitalized on an opportunity that we handed them.


Posted by erika 'round about 06:30 AM | Comments (0)

March 01, 2007

Hey Winter - Please stick it up your ass

ANOTHER winter storm watch for tonight:

...WINTER STORM WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 7 PM EST THIS EVENING THROUGH FRIDAY MORNING...

A WINTER STORM WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR NORTHERN MASSACHUSETTS. IT IS STILL UNCERTAIN AS TO HOW MUCH SNOW...SLEET AND FREEZING RAIN WILL AFFECT THE REGION FROM THE UPCOMING STORM.

TOTAL SNOWFALL OF 4 TO 7 INCHES ARE POSSIBLE BY MIDDAY FRIDAY.

PLAN ON A SLOWER THAN NORMAL FRIDAY MORNING COMMUTE. TRAVEL MAY BE SLOW ON TREATED SURFACES...AND QUITE DIFFICULT ON ANY UNPLOWED OR UNTREATED ROADWAYS.

Yes, I know we live in an area where winter does, indeed, happen. That doesn't mean I have to like it. Snow is one thing, freezing rain and ice for a slower than normal morning commute is another. Aaron has been tasked with buying beer and wine for the weekend tonight just in case we are snowed in.

In other news, I've had an obsession with smoked oysters for the last few days. My family makes yummy appetizers: smoked oysters, cheddar cheese and Triscuits (melt the cheese under the broiler and voila!).

I've updated this by using herbed havarti instead of cheddar and, since I ran out of Triscuits last night, little wheat TLC crackers. I've gone through THREE cans of smoked oysters and it's only Thursday. This obsession must mean something, right? Why am I craving smoked shellfish? Thankfully, I think my cravings have finally been sated. At least until tomorrow.

Posted by erika 'round about 02:15 PM | Comments (2)