Filed under: — Aprille @ 10:28 am

I need to blog this, because I make it often enough that I get annoyed about having to find my favorite recipe in a cookbook.  Yet somehow I don’t make it often enough to have the exact proportions memorized.  Digitization, here we come.

This makes about half a cup, which is more than we need in a sitting, but it’s as far down as I can reduce the recipe reliably.


  • 1 egg yolk + half an egg white (just approximate)
  • a dab of dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or 1 tsp kosher salt)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice (I’ve used lime too)
  • 1 large clove garlic or a couple of small ones, peeled
  • 1/4 cup olive oil mixed with 1/4 cup mild-flavored oil (canola, peanut, whatever)

Place yolk, white, mustard, salt, lemon juice, and garlic in a food processor.  Pulse until the garlic is well-minced.  With the motor running, veeeeeeery slowly drizzle in the oil blend—just the thinnest drip.  Once you’ve got a good emulsion going, you can dribble faster, but let at least half the mixture get well emulsified before you get brave.   It should get pretty thick, and it will thicken further when refrigerated.

You can refrigerate this for a day or so, but don’t let it go much longer than that.



Filed under: — Aprille @ 12:33 pm

I was trying to get the boys organized to take them out for lunch, but Miles was absorbed in an imaginative game.

A:  Are you getting hungry for lunch?

M:  Yeah.

A:  Okay, let’s go get some clothes on.

M:  No, I mean after I save the world.


The Tobin Times #16

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:31 pm

My sweet Toby-Tobe,

This has been a difficult holiday season for everyone.  First, my Grammy died, which wasn’t truly a surprise, but thoroughly crappy nonetheless.  She was my last grandparent, your last great-grandparent, and I miss her.  We had planned to come to Ames for a few days before Christmas to spend some time with Mubby and Skittergramps and to let your dad work in peace, but the timing of the funeral made us change our plans a little.  We came a day early so we could catch a ride in Skittergramps’s big blue van.  We’ve been having fun her, for sure, but we missed your dad a lot and were excited to see him Friday night.

Then the storm came.  Actually it came on Thursday, a real jerk of a blizzard.  It was worse in central Iowa than in eastern Iowa, so your dad set out on Friday as scheduled, only to find the roads too messy to safely traverse.  He spent a night in Newton while we chilled out here.  This morning, as usual, you were the first one awake.  You looked over to the bed where your brother was sleeping and yelled, “Bubby!”  Fortunately, he’s a heavy sleeper.  You’ve done that every morning since we’ve been here and it hasn’t woken him up once.  Then you noticed someone else was in the room.  “Hi!  Daddy!  Hi Daddy!  Hi!” you said.

You’ve also detected our Ames morning pattern.  When we got up, I didn’t have to prompt you at all.  You suggested “Skitter.  Down.  Skitter, down.”  So down we went to see Skittergramps.  He always has the coffee brewing.

Those are just a couple of the two-word phases you’ve been saying lately.  You’ve said “Read ‘gain” to request another story and “He’o, Papa” when you hold a phone (or a block or anything, really) up to your ear.  You got to play with Nana and Papa for real last night at the annual Beary family Christmas Eve extravaganza.  You were feeling pretty tired and crabby due to a short nap and coming down with a cold, but you still managed to have fun and entertain the crowd.  You loved it when the group sang Christmas carols.  Things were a little sad with that crowd, too, due to the much-too-soon loss of Aunt Jeanne.  You spent a lot of time with her kids, Andi and JT, and I hope your antics helped lift their spirits a little.  JT, who is a childhood educator, told me several times that he thinks you’re really smart.  Apparently you were displaying specific signs of it.  Naturally your dad and grandparents and I already think you’re a genius, but it’s nice to have some external reinforcement.

Photo by Gary Clarke

You haven’t really developed a present obsession yet, though you’ve had fun with the toys you’ve opened.  Mostly you want whatever your brother’s playing with.  You also enjoy removing the bow from any package that has one.  We decorated our Christmas tree this year with only non-breakable ornaments on the lower couple of feet, but even so, I took a long look at it the other day and found that all the ornaments has migrated to the top.  I know I’ve said, “Okay, honey.  Give that to Mommy.  Let’s put it up a little higher,” but I guess I’ve said it more times than I realized.

Your favorite foods right now are cake (which you call Happy Cake, as in Happy Birthday Cake), couscous, rice, turkey, and clementines (o-anges).  We sang happy birthday to Uncle Larry on the phone, and later, when Skittergramps showed you a picture of him, you said, “Happy!”  Your favorite pastime is watching YouTube videos of Harry Belafonte’s “Day-O,” especially a live version Skittergramps found.  Once, as you sat on Skittergramps’s lap watching and listening, the camera lingered on the lady backup singers in low-cut dresses.  “Milky!” you exclaimed.

You are so enthusiastic.  You make funny faces so often, and you make us laugh every single day.  Even when you’re sick, you’re still pretty good-natured.  You love a good dance party, which of course makes you Mubby’s special buddy.  You guys have been working the Christmas boogying pretty hard lately.

We ordered your passport for our big vacation in February.  I’m so excited for you to get it.  If your appreciation of baths is any indication, you are going to love the beach and the ocean.  We’ll see whom you side with on the topic of how seawater tastes:  your dad (ew, ew, gross) or me (yum, like soup).  You give really wonderful hugs and kisses.  Your favorite number is two, though you can also fill in “ten” if someone gives you a one through nine lead-up.  You can fill in the blanks in the ABC song, and you made your dad and me sing “The Twelve Days of Christmas” four times in the car yesterday.  Do you realize what a long song that is?

You’re snoring away next to me right now, since your nose is so plugged up that you can barely breathe through it.  I admit I got pretty tired last night at the Beary party when you wouldn’t let anyone but me hold you.  That’s so unlike you; I should have known you were starting to feel crummy.  Still, it’s nice that you’re still in the stage where sitting on your Mommy’s lap makes everything okay.  I can’t un-clog your nose (well, I can use one of those suction thingies, but holy crap do you hate that), but I can cuddle you and kiss your fuzzy little head and make you know that you’re safe and loved.

Photo by Gary Clarke

I hope you’re having sweet dreams, my little snot-bucket.  I love you for a thousand Christmases and more.



Fair warning

Filed under: — Aprille @ 11:36 am

Background:  when Miles makes a demand, I often say, “Can you ask more nicely than that?”  He then tacks a “please” on the end.  I usually let it pass at that level, but Denny often makes him repeat the whole sentence politely.  Denny has recently rejoined us after being away for a few days.

M:  More graham crackers!

A:  Can you ask more nicely than that?

M:  Please.  (pause)  And I warn you, do not boss me around into saying the whole thing.


Montly Miles Memo #59

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:45 pm

My dear Miles,

This is your last month as a four-year-old.  Five sounds awfully old.  Five-year-olds can probably go to R-rated movies, right?  In Canada or something?

We’ve been spending a lot of time together lately, partly because your dad has been working a lot of extra hours in order to finish a really big project at work.  I get worn out, especially with your brother in the mix, but I like it too.  We’ve taken advantage of the (slightly creepy) warm fall by taking walks down our path, to and from school, and to the doughnut shop.  We spend quiet time together at home, too.  As we cuddled up under a blanket together one foggy morning, you said, “There’s nothing better than this.”

We’ve had fun doing some holiday projects together, including some special Christmas presents for your grandparents and cooking activities.  We made melted-snowman cookies, which you enjoyed, though you wish we had some real snow.  We haven’t had any yet, and I can’t say for sure when we will.  I heard we’ve broken a record for most consecutive days without snow.  This warmth plus a dry year in general have combined to, in your words, make your dreams come false. We’ve done other things to get our winter spirits on, though.  Mubby and Skittergramps came last weekend to help us get our Christmas tree, and you’ve been having fun looking at toy catalogues.

Sometimes you get frustrated, especially with your brother, and I don’t blame you.  I remember what it was like to have a little brother who wanted to do everything I did and who wasn’t always gentle.  It can be tough.  Mostly, though, you do great.  You enjoy teaming up with your dad and me to try to mold Tobin into a reasonable member of society, and you’re so proud of him.  You’re quick to prompt him to respond when people talk to him, and you reward or chastise him with a chant:  “Tobin, Tobin, Tobin is a no-no-Nobin” or “Tobin, Tobin, Tobin is a sweet, sweet boy,” depending on the situation.

You got a special treat after Thanksgiving:  a visit from your old friend Beanie.  She moved to Texas, but she was up visiting some family for the holiday and stopped by to play for a while.  We miss her a lot.  Your other Thanksgiving adventures were fun, too.  You brought down the house in Albia when your cousin Austin was throwing a tantrum.  You watched, listened, and then deadpanned, “I think he’s misunderstood.”  I thought your Aunt Carole was going to fall out of her chair she was laughing so hard.

Last weekend we did something really special.  We went to see a live theatrical production of Annie.  It was a little nerve-wracking in the beginning.  I foolishly didn’t reserve tickets in advance, thinking we could buy them at the door, and when we arrive it was sold out.  I put us on the waiting list, and as we waited, I thought of a plan.  I told the ticket saleseperson that we’d be willing to pay for two people but just take one seat, if only one seat happened to open up.  Well, that’s just what happened, and the ticket people were kind enough to only charge us for one.  We got a great seat:  fourth row, center.  I was happy to have my little guy on my lap.  The lady we sat next to looked a little nervous when we sat down, but I assured her that you were a great kid, and you didn’t make a liar out of me.  You sat so nicely the whole time, watching carefully and clapping.  The only time you got grumpy was at intermission, and that’s just because you didn’t want the play to stop.

I’m not a big fan of musicals in general, but I can’t deny that there’s something shivers-inducing about that moment when the house goes dark and the orchestra starts up the overture.  Your music teacher from school played the trumpet in the orchestra, and even though you got a shy-attack about talking to her, your smile told me you were excited to see her.  After it was over, you sternly told me, “Next time we see a play, buy tickets.”

We’re getting things organized for your birthday party now.  You’ve chosen a Superman theme, so we’re making invitations and choosing decorations and putting together treat bags for your friends.  I’m trying to think of some kind of game we could play, something easy and fun for preschoolers.  Throw the Kryptonite at Superman?  That seems a little rude.  We’ll have to think about that.

Photo by Gary Clarke

You have a lot of changes coming up in your fifth year, my sweet Miles.  I’ve loved having you as my four-year-old, and for next month’s letter, I’ll try to sum up what this fourth year has meant to you and our whole family.  For the time being, I’ll cuddle you up tightly and agree that there’s nothing better than this.

With all the love I’ve got,




Melted snowman cookies

Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:58 am

I saw this idea somewhere, and I thought Miles would have fun doing it.  Lo, I was right.  It was really quite easy.

1.  Take your favorite sugar cookie dough (I confess we used store-bought for this quickie project) and roll it out.

2.  Use a cookie cutter or do like we did and use a drinking glass to cut out pretty big circles (maybe 3″ in diameter).

3.  Bake cookies as directed.  Cool completely.

4.  While the cookies are baking and cooling, work on the marshmallows.  Take as many big marshmallows as you have cookies and snip off part of one edge.  That will make it sit at an angle on the cookie and make it look like the snowman is looking down at his ruined body in horror.

5.  Decorate the marshmallows with decorator frosting, sprinkles, whatever you like.

6.  Take some white frosting and warm it up.  It took about 15 seconds in my microwave to get a nice liquidy (but not TOO liquidy) consistency.  Using a spoon, pour an irregular blob of frosting onto the cookie.  Place the marshmallow.

7.  Let it set for a few minutes, then add more decorations, like sprinkle buttons and stick arms.  If you have the time and patience, you could add even more things, like fallen tophats and scarves.

8.  Munch munch munch.

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