Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Lab cookie bake-off

Yes, some labs go out for lunch, some do dinner... but because we are the "chick lab" we baked cookies at my house as our holiday outting!  It was oddly, much like work.  I provided the supplies and the space, Trina (the lab manager) orchestrated everyone, and the research assistants worked with purpose.

Ok, it was different than work because there was some of this:

This was our starting crew:

And then this lovely student came after her final:

This is Ling, newly arrived from China and completely new to American baking. She took to making sugar cookies like a pro... to quote her "You know how some people are type A? they call me A+".  Her verdict on the product "too much sugar, I like it spicy"

Ling and Kristin took care of the decorating as well

Meg suffered from sugar shock due to finger-licking overload:

There were snickerdoodles:

Some Mississippi based candy-cookie from Trina's childhood:

The classic peanut butter chocolate kiss cookie, which I almost completely mucked up by purchasing cherry-creme kisses! yeah, that doesn't go with peanut butter. thankfully I am a Hammond at heart and bought too much of everything, including more than one kind of the kisses.

And this is Trina the lab manager. She is great at her job, and I am one lucky lady to have her running the show, including cookie baking.

Friday, November 19, 2010

A crafty exchange

I hate to sew, but I love to knit.  I wish I liked to sew (or that I was good at it, but I'm not).

My mother-in-law hates to knit, but loves to sew (and is a fantastic seamstress).

So, we make stuff for each other.  The latest gift giving (I love that both are work-in-progress pictures, even though they are done):

Socks for Connie.  A CookieA pattern in Cherry Tree Hill yarn, probably the best ones yet.  I started them on the Japan trip.  I will make another pair for sure. (sadly not while in Japan)

Qulited wall hanging for the new house.  Its stunning.

What's next?  I'm not sure.  We're both in the thick of Christmas gift making for others, but I'm sure something is on the other side of December.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

the banana bread

OK, this is one of the things I make that the kids actually like.  a lot.  It smells fantastic when you bake it, but it will taste better if you can resist slicing into it until the next day.  I went for healthy last night (no chocolate chips), but clearly, it is not healthy. 

The recipe was published in the Boston Globe many, many years ago (back far enough that we were still getting the newspaper delivered, and that was at least 10 years ago, maybe longer!)

This makes 1 loaf:

  • 3 or 4 overripe bananas
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 lb. (one stick) butter, melted, slightly cooled
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
  • (optional add-ins: 1/2cup walnuts, 1 cup cranberries, or 1 cup chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 x 5 loaf pan.


Beat bananas and sugar in a mixing bowl for 2 or 3 minutes. Add in the butter, eggs and vanilla extract and beat well, scraping down the sides of the bowl before each addition.


Add in the dry ingredients (plus an optional add-in, if desired). Mix to just combine.


Pour into prepared pan. Bake about 1 hour 10 minutes until bread is pulling away from the pan sides and tests done.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Another season, another wildlife problem


Why now?  I don't know.  But they are noisy.   Most of the night.  Outside the bedroom.

(And I've got another big woodpecker hole to patch too)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Back at it

Sorry 'bout that.  I could make excuses about not posting all last week, but you don't want to hear it.

In the meantime winter arrived
My contribution to this effort was making the pants.

So, how is winter at the new house?

Snow removal: check.  
The plow guy (we live on a private road), came at a really good time during the storm and did a fine job with the plowing.  Is doing our drive too, for what seems like a nominal fee.  So, even though we have a snow blower, we didn't even break it out.

Wood stove:  check.
Ok, there was a small learning curve.  But I feel we have the groove of it now.  I'm guessing we will only heat with it on the weekends.  Its great though, and makes you want to stay home.

Parties:  check.
Crafty brunch with the knitting girls was at my house this weekend.  Nothing like a winter storm to make you want to knit with wool in a primal instinct sort of way.  There was good eating

and knitting

And happiness (and not just because there were mimosa's and bloody mary's).

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Top chef: afterschool edition

I challenge you to make this box of brownies with no help (said the mama who hadn't quite finished her work for the day).

I had no idea how "up" for this challenge a 10 and 7 year old would be!  littleT is quite adept and self-sufficient in the kitchen, but A-man is lacking motivation (but chocolate did the trick!).

It was a hilarious display of motivated teamwork.  A-man was his bossy self, but littleT was clearly happy to be working together.  They successfully found the ingredients and utensils (there was some confusion if the cooking spray was supposed to go in the bowl before the mix).

There was vigorous stirring (each doing exactly 25 strokes):
But really (and this should come as no surprise) the whole endeavor revolved around licking the bowl and licking the spoon -- it dominated the cooking conversation!
Now THAT is licking the bowl!

The house smelled great and the brownies were delicious.  Clearly a new challenge must be issued next Friday.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The oven

We are seeking comfort food this week
Which brings us to the saga of the oven.

When we bought the house Sally (former owner) said "I suppose you will eventually want to get a new oven".  hmmmmm.

The day we closed we had lots of friends and family over to show them the "pre" state of the house.  It was fun!  But darn that oven was not really heating up for the pizzas...  hmmmmm.

And then, as the spring went along, bigT and I had some disagreements about whether the little popping sounds from the oven were "normal gas oven noises" or "dangerous".  Finally, one evening it was loud enough it made me jump, so I called the oven guy.

Turns out those were little explosions happening in the oven!

So, the oven was turned off for the summer.  Yeah, I don't know why.  A normal person would've just gone out and bought an oven.  I guess because I wanted a fancy one  (double oven with a 5th burner), but didn't want to spend the money, we just made-do.  We limped along with just the stovetop and the grill all summer.  And then the canning bug bit me, and i can tell you that this appliance was not meant for canning.  But I perserved!  Until one very late night (cause that's when I can) I turned and saw the entire canner -- one of those giant pots -- engulfed in flames.  And that was the tipping point.

which resulted in this!
Ok, that is a crappy dark picture from the day it was installed.  But, I love, love, love it!  And we eat at home a lot more now, and its awesome for canning with the power burner (although we don't ever use the double oven, i dream of entertaining i guess).

Finally this past weekend we busted out the griddle burner for Pakka to make his pancakes, and since it was out we made yummy greasy grilled cheese.

I love my house.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

that about sums it up

we're not happy at 845 today.

So, where was this picture and what were we doing?  I believe that is the Westin in Newton.  And, the thing tied around his neck is a cape with the letter T on it.  For A-man's birthday, when he was turning 5 (I think), we (my parents and I) made super hero capes for the kids.  And I vaguely remember my parents staying at that Westin one time so the kids could go swimming.  Must've been for the birthday weekend!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Ok.  'rents, don't be mad.  I know you were here for 4 days and *extremely* helpful with the mayhem.  But, I inadvertently made this once you left.  That is very uncool.  Although perhaps it happened because someone left the pumpkin mess on the counter (with so many bodies, I don't know who!).  If they had been left on the table, or tossed out, it wouldn't have happened.  But, there it was when I got home, so I cleaned them and roasted them and they are good.  If you come next year I will roast them for YOU to eat while we are out on the candy grab.

I surely have a weeks worth of posts related to Halloween!  But here, pumpkins.

We were supposed to carve the dumb things the weekend before... as a get-together with another family.  Of course, once I bought all the pumpkins said get-together was canceled due to illness.  And carving pumpkins at our house falls under the D-A-D category, so they sat on the stoop all week waiting for his return from Korea.

Here is the jet-lagged Dad doing the carving thing on Halloween:
Yes, even though he almost cut off his finger 3 weeks ago, he is still in charge of knife activities.  I'm that bad with a knife.

Man, this post is very non-linear.

A-man picked the mutant pumpkin.  Good choice, with that cyclops action and all.  BUT, the trait that led to bumps apparently also led to uncarvable skin.  This was not happy for A-man.  He got over it.
littleT was quasi-forced into scooping out his pumpkin (like his paternal grandmother, HATES having messy hands)
The end product!  (well, not really, those roasted seeds are then END)

Anyone else notice that I never talk about yarn?  it says I will, but I never do.

Monday, November 1, 2010

halloween bloodbath

Ah, Halloween past. It is this time of year that we made a trip to the Children's ER in Boston with littleT (I think he was 2).  We were at home, hanging, and little Mr funny bones was doing a silly dance with a blanket over his head.  To him it seemed really funny as it was a crocheted blanky that looked like spider webs, so he could sort of see through the knotted holes... but not really.  You can picture it no?  His parents yelling "Tomas, stop, you're going to get hurt", and him tripping on the blanket and flying into the chair (which we ironically had already dubbed the blood money chair).  bigT scooped him and said "oh yeah, that's stitches".

So, I walked A-man over to the neighbors, who were actually having a Halloween party, and they thought we were there in costume!  (notice my shirt was not exactly clean).  No, we're serious, we have to go to the ER, can you watch A-man?  Which of course they did, because they were great neighbors... another Boston thing to miss.

Three stitches.  To sedate, or not sedate?  we chose not, as he had been eating candy and we were worried he'd aspirate.  Which meant I had to pin my baby down while he screamed insanely in my face while being stitched up in his field of vision.  NOT FUN.  But you wouldn't know given the smile here, would you?  Actually, this picture is pre-stitching!  the one above, with the popsicle was post-trauma.

There's a scar, but its tiny and fitting, and i think i unknowingly stare it a lot.  love that little guy and all his little things that make him so one-of-a-kind.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Yeah, that hurt

storm.  BIG STORM.  crazy, crazy wind.  how crazy? 

crazy enough to take down 50 foot trees (can you spy the buried picnic table?)

what's that thing sticking up?  oh that's the crabapple that went down with the pine.  ouch, i didn't want that one pruned out
uh, lady, why is there a pine tree growing in your maple?
sadly, not permanent, and once we cut it up there will be a lot less privacy from the road

So, that is 2 trees down, blown west to east.  Here is tree #3.  This one was a welcome pruning as it was dead.  This tree has blown from south to north, did I mention crazy wind?

Then there is this pathetic specimen.  Sure, it looked healthy enough, but no roots!  It is tree #4, making our house surrounded on three sides by downed trees.  Clearly I should just be happy that our house did not blow away.

Thankfully, my parents were planning a weekend visit and brought their chainsaw along.  Pakka is da man!

The picnic table is completely in tact!  amazing.  but, man is that a big bare spot.  i'll get over it.  eventually.

for example, this makes me feel better.
What is it?  
It is grandpa's upcycling!

A winter fort!