my bookstore buddy…

zoë and i got to go spend some time at barnes and noble this weekend… there’s something about the crisp air in the evenings that makes me want to spend endless hours poring over novels in a comfy chair with a cup of coffee next to me. she however, wanted to play with the train sets, and drink hot chocolate. i’m sure you can guess who won.

we went last night and tonight, played with trains, drank hot chocolate, and i read knitting magazines next to the train table. 

today, one of our favorite thrift stores was celebrating 5 years of business. they help provide safehouses for abused women, and help them get back on their feet in jobs and school. definitely worth celebrating, and today they had a big party to commemorate. we ate pizza, ice cream from the local marble slab mix-in type place,

got zoë’s face painted

played with hula hoops

and generally speaking had a ball. zoë won a raffle prize, and talked about it endlessly today. i blame the cuteness of dinosaur train on PBS for her facepaint. she was very clear with the girl doing the painting that she wanted a dinosaur. forget hearts, and flowers… the girl wanted a dinosaur.

it is bittersweet having a bookstore buddy now. she’s old enough to hang out with to some extent, even if i only get short snatches of conversation with her in between rounds on the train table. i know i keep posting in this vein of thought, i’m just trying to process the simultaneous sorrow and joy of a child growing older. i don’t know if it’s tougher that she’s an only child, i’ve never been a mom before. ha.


mushroom bolognese

so if you couldn’t tell, i’ve been on an italian kick lately. and happily for me, cooking light’s october issue had a lovely recipe for mushroom bolognese. rich, meaty, and actually packed full of veggies and nutrients, this was a perfect fall day kind of recipe.

Mushroom Bolognese from Cooking Light


  • 1/2  ounce  dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1  cup  boiling water
  • 1  tablespoon  olive oil
  • 2 1/2  cups  chopped onion
  • 3/4  teaspoon  kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1/2  pound  ground pork
  • 8  cups  finely chopped cremini mushrooms (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1  tablespoon  minced garlic
  • 2  tablespoons  tomato paste
  • 1/2  cup  white wine
  • 1  (14-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/4  cup  whole milk
  • 10  ounce  uncooked whole-wheat spaghetti
  • 1  tablespoon  kosher salt
  • 1 1/2  ounces  Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
  • 1/4  cup  chopped fresh parsley


1. Combine porcini and boiling water in a bowl; cover and let stand 20 minutes or until soft. Drain porcini in a colander lined with a paper towel over a bowl, reserving liquid. Rinse and chop porcini.

2. Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and pork; cook 10 minutes or until pork is browned, stirring to crumble pork.

3.Add cremini mushrooms, garlic, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook 15 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates, stirring occasionally.

4.Add porcini; cook 1 minute. Add tomato paste; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add reserved porcini liquid and wine; cook 1 minute, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and breaking up tomatoes as necessary. Stir in milk; cook 2 minutes.

5. Cook pasta according to package directions, adding 1 tablespoon salt to cooking water. Drain. Toss pasta with sauce; top with cheese and parsley.

future tense

i thought the title was clever, and then realized i’m not really tense about it. ha. oh well. i’ve been trying to figure out what comes after graduation, since i have advising on tuesday, and i’ll be registering for classes in a week or so. after this semester, i only have 3 more, and if i could go to school in the summer (still deciding on that one at present) i would graduate by my 31st birthday. only 10 years after my original college graduation date, ha. but the “what comes after” is the part i can’t decide on. i have been kicking around the idea of pursuing graduate work to get an MLIS (master of library and information science) and work in a college library, or even a public one, but i can’t quite make it all work in my head. i’m still carefully weighing zoë’s educational options, because i would very much like to homeschool her, but i am still uncertain of the best thing for all involved parties. mostly because she needs and craves routine, and i tend to shun it like the black death. you know, minor issues. i don’t want to homeschool her for my own benefit, but for hers, and to work out a schedule that allows for the most positive learning environment for our little social butterfly is tough. she needs daily routine, but lots of time spent with other people. basically, i would need to get my act together. and it scares me. thankfully, i still have 3 semesters to figure this stuff out, but it is looming over me and i know a decision will have to be made soon(ish).

on the home front, zoë’s caught a cold, and has missed 2 days of school this week. she’s seemingly on the mend, so we’re letting her go back tomorrow. neither spence or i caught it, thank the Lord, allowing us to more fully focus on her instead of coughing and sneezing right alongside her. her rash (the red around her mouth? yeah, it’s eczema.) is finally disappearing, we had to switch to a heavy duty petrolatum based moisturizer. and also encouraged her to give up the thumb. her night time thumb sucking is a major part of the rash, since it won’t heal if it’s constantly moist. her doctor did say that both the thumb she sucks, and her mouth look good, and that she’s not doing damage to either, so that is a great relief. i don’t relish the idea of making the thumb sucking end, as it’s more daunting than potty training to me… and you all saw how long it took to get that figured out.

we’re getting back to cooking at home… well, i mean, cooking meals i would want to share. some weeks we just feel like soup and scrambled eggs, other weeks it’s mushroom bolognese. and by we, i mean me. i’ll post the mushroom bolognese soon, probably tomorrow after school. midterms threw me off so badly when it comes to blogging my recipes, as we seriously were eating grilled cheese sandwiches and soup, and scrambled eggs, etc. college fare, basically. it’s nice to be back.

as per usual, zoë is her silly self, and the questions on bones continues. one of her favorite shows is “dinosaur train” on pbs, and she keeps telling us “when i’m a big girl, i’m going to see a dinosaur die and turn into a fossil.” we’ve had to re-explain that all the dinosaurs are already fossils (not counting Nessie, of course) and she won’t get to see any die. but her persistence in believing she’ll see it just means we need to get her to a natural history museum sometime very soon.

i think that’s it from us tonight, here’s a few fun pictures of beans riding in an ikea bag (hovering about 6 inches above the floor, so no one worry, okay?) and pretending to be a turtle (when the ikea bag was on her back.)

short update…

so with the turning of the weather comes more tests, more papers and more stress. i’ve got 3 papers and 3 tests this week, so there’s not a whole lot we’re up to. we did make it out to the zoo earlier last week, and zoë and i have been walking every night around dusk. with later night walks, i’ve not been bringing my camera along at all. in fact, i’ve taken no pictures this week. sad, i know. it’s been a little hairy with school, but thankfully, when we went to the zoo, we went with susanna and linley and piper. and susanna had her camera along. so i have 2 pictures of the girls all together, hanging out at the park.

zoë has been asking about the halloween decorations we’ve been seeing all over the place, and has had a lot of questions about the bones (skeletons). tonight, after we explained that everybody has bones inside their body and they can’t come out, she asked if she could take her bones to school in her backpack. this was right after wondering if her bones were sleeping, and when would they wake up? we are bombarded with questions like these from sunup to sundown, and while adorable, it is a little overwhelming sometimes. i need to brush up on why the sky is blue, and what makes water wet, because i know that’s coming next.

i’ll check back in this weekend i think, after these tests and papers are done. i will be happy to get out of college with just a 3.0 average, because these tests are tough.