Six months huh? Hah, I feel like there are times where I take the “part-time” part of this blog a little too seriously. But between a big move from NYC to the Twin Cities in Minnesota (with a toddler), to switching my job situation, to finalizing our daughter’s adoptions, to other family stuff… I just couldn’t seem to find the time. Or rather, the energy.
This is the first time in our little girl’s life where we haven’t had a family support system to fall back on. We were lucky enough to be less than 10 minutes from both sets of grandparents, which meant plenty of weekend mornings where I could just sleep in. If you’ve met my kid, you’ll know she’s feisty and a handful. She’s always been surrounded by adults, and so she now thinks she’s 25. There was always someone ready to hang out with her, play with her, keep her entertained. Now she only has us. Add trying to potty train her, a bought of pneumonia, and her first ear infection to the list and well, I’m surprised I’m not rocking back and forth in a closet somewhere.
Does anyone else feel that they have multiple personalities that are nearly always fighting inside their heads? No? Just me? Hm. Oh no I see a hand up near the back of the room. Hi there. You too huh? How damn annoying is that?
Part of me is a strong, intelligent feminist sort of woman. Jokes about sexism or patriarchy or privilege send me off the deep end in an instant. My family knows this. My friends know this. Hell even coworkers and acquaintances know this. Without a doubt I will always react, and it’s something they count on for entertainment. The word “princess” is never used in our house because of all the baggage and societal obligations it carries, and I don’t want my daughter carrying the burden of that word. My parents think I’m crazy and over reacting, but I know these are the sort of things I have to stay vigilant about. That and introducing the joy of reading and STEM subjects to her before the world tries to stamp out her intelligence in favor of selfies. Thank God my husband agrees.
But. I really like Mariah Carey. She’s my go to karaoke-slash-blasting-it-in-the-car-and-screaming-my-heart-out singer. And Taylor Swift. God. What is wrong with me? Yes Taylor Swift. As in I own every one of her albums. At least I can blame Mariah Carey on the fact that I have an emotional connection from my early teenage years, but Taylor Swift? I’m 33 for goodness sakes. The sparkle teenage me (as I refer to her) lifts her chin defiantly when I argue with her, and just stares me down. “So? The music is FUN! Don’t think about it too much! You’re allowed to just. Have. FUN. You’re a teenager!” (I’m really not I try to explain to her. That’s part of the problem.)
Earlier this month, my husband and I got to take our first real trip alone together since we were placed with our daughter. We are usually go-out-and-see-things-rent-cars-to-take-random-roadtrips-hop-on-buses-to-go-exploring sort of people, but this time we decided to take a different approach. I’ve been incredibly stressed at work, and my husband is working through (what feels like) miles upon miles of paperwork for job applications. We didn’t think we’d have the energy to do our normal exploring thing. So we decided on Mexico. Water its own special shades of blue and soft sand, we got a room with a view you couldn’t look away from. I bought a pile of books to catch up vacation reading, downloaded a bunch of movies / shows, and we were ready to go.
We were bored in less than a day, and missed our munchkin even before then. It’s strange how things change when you become a parent. I never thought I’d be the mom type, and even made my husband swear that we would do just a couple vacation once a year to get away from the little rugrat. Never did I think I’d be calling and skyping with her daily, or thinking about her at every turn. “Oh look at that kiddie pool.. Razia would have loved that! Aw look at that sweet little dress… should we buy one for Razia? Can you imagine if Razia was here?” Daily. Hourly. Strange. The whole trip made us reflect on family, and how lucky we were that we even had the option of taking this trip without her.
It’s funny how life works out sometimes. For example, when I first met my mom in law, she was just my friend’s mom (or, more accurately, the mom of the guy I had a crush on hah). Then my husband and I got serious, got engaged, and finally got married. This woman who I thought was pretty cool, who would always bust my husband’s chops, and who was such an awesomely strong woman, became my mom in law. But it’s more than that; she’s also become my rock for so many things, including helping us raise our daughter; she’s someone I can’t imagine my life without. I’m sort of an oddity in my own family. I’m too loud, too head strong, too obnoxious, and too demanding in comparison to my mom and my sisters. I’m also not as well kept as they are, and wasn’t as social as they were growing up. All these things that caused me to be the odd one out, are actually things that my mom in law loves about me. Strange.
I have a love / hate relationship with tarts. I adore how they look and taste. That you can fill them with anything from a pastry cream to a ganache (the stuff you make truffles with); they can be sweet or savory; and they come in so many different sizes and shapes. How adorable are mini individual tarts that you can just pop into your mouth? They are perfect for summer garden parties, any sort of baby / bridal shower, and I have no qualms about eating a boatload of them while watching a rom-com. Love. Them.
But whenever I’ve attempted to make the tart shell at home, I’m met with disastrous results. Alh my apartment hasn’t burned down or anything, but the shells are just a wreck. Tasteless, dry, cardboardy things that may as well be mini bowls for the filling and not much else. So when I saw the Summer Tarts class on the ICE class roster a few weeks ago, I immediately signed up. I mean here was a class being taught by an award winning chef (The James Beard award. Yea. THAT level of fancy), it covered one of my most dreaded topics, and I still had gift certificates that my awesome husband had given me as part of an anniversary presents years ago. Done.
Now all the pastry dough recipes I’ve used in the past, from my culinary go to sources like CIA and Martha Stewart, to the general blogoverse, have all had me cut in the butter to form the dough. The butter, flour, water, and everything else are chilled multiple times during the course of putting it all together to keep it at the right temperature before you bake it. And this is where the problem lies. I somehow overwork the butter so I’m left with a leaden tart shell not worth anything.