The beginning of counting

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After yesterday’s rainy day, it was lovely to wake up to glorious sunshine. We were supposed to be having Lucy and Teddy to ours but instead we all went for a long stroll along the river to Pier 5 park, where the boys ran around and played in cars. Lucy supplied us with homemade, still warm, raspberry muffins for snack, which were seriously delicious. Rory couldn’t get enough. Later on Rory played with his knitted numbers, which was interesting to watch. He can mimic my counting to five, but I relalise that this doesn’t actually mean anything, it’s just like how he knows the words to songs. But, what is impressive is that he is learning about numbers through everyday tasks. He likes to help me set the table which teaches him to get three of everything whilst somewhat counting, e.g., ‘mummy’s fork, daddy;s fork, Rory’s fork” etc. He’s fast learning to associate that number with a given quantity. Today we read his book and I pointed out two ladybirds. I said “There’s a little ladybird, and there’s another one”, he said “two”. I thought is was slightly fluky so did it with two squirrels and he said the same thing. So we seem to be getting a little closer to understanding quantities in real life situations.

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A rainy day

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It was so dark this morning that Rory slept in which was a nice treat given that O was away, but was short lived when I saw the rainy, foggy weather. We also had our lovely cleaner, Jackie, coming so had to leave the cosy (dry) sanctuary of home and go out in it! Luckily Marji invited us to go and play in their building’s playroom, which Rory loved as it gave him access to unlimited modes of transport. He got particularly attached to a snow truck which he continued to mention (along with Mia, Mel and Joe Joe) all day. We stopped off for our weekly slice before coming home for a well deserved rest. Unfortunately Rory had other ideas and decided not to take a nap. After several attempts to get him to sleep, I gave up. So instead I put a few drops of my soothing aromatherapy associates relaxing bath oil into a saucepan of water and let it’s calming scent fill the apartment (a trick I’ve recently read about which is much more efficient than scented candles). I lit a few candles and listened to some soothing music whilst Rory played quietly. Late afternoon there was a slither of sun, so I met with Christine, Gracie and Mason and went for a much needed sunset stroll along the river. O is home late tonight and I can’t wait to snuggle with him.

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Yummy

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Rory and I enjoyed a packed music class this morning before heading to the park with Jennifer and Saffron. We stopped off at our local grocers and picked up some lunch, including the above yummy acorn stuffed squash, yummy. Rory has a little cold so I was pleased when he had a big afternoon nap and it gave me a chance to catch up on some reading. After afternoon snack, we headed out for a stroll along the river, which is beautiful as the sunsets. O is away on business for a couple of days so I’m relaxing and catching up on some girly TV like Little Paris Kitchen.

Spoonable

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Rory and I enjoyed a quiet start to the week by Skyping with Granny M and then heading out in the chilly sunshine to meet Lora, Oliver and Maeve at the park. On the way home I popped into West Elm Market and picked up this amazing delight from Spoonable. It is THE dream. Now I just need to find a yummy recipe to use it for so I just don’t continue eating it straight out of the jar. In the afternoon we enjoyed our parent and child class which always inspires me. Snuggled in with homemade kale and potato soup with fresh Sullivan Street Bakery Bread. PS A very Happy Birthday to my lovely Uncle Niall. x

Brunch

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This morning we met up with the lovely Lucy, Jim and Teddy for a spot of brunch at Almar. They’re a smashing British family who have just moved to the area and Rory adores playing with Teddy because he has one of the most impressive transport toy collections he’s ever seen (plus a train set permanently out on a play table). The boys were brilliant whilst we nattered away and afterwards we all went on a little walk. The boys loved chasing each other, and got so exhausted that they needed a sit down, in the bushes! After a leisurely nap, we all made some fresh popcorn for snack which Rory loved. We popped out for an evening walk along the promenade (Rory loves to look at all of the traffic and construction vehicles from a view) but because it was a tad chilly, thought it would be nice to pick up some Jacques Torres hot chocolate to warm our hands. They love Rory in there, so we managed to come away with three free slices of their amazing flourless chocolate cake (three?!) which was perfect for watching the Oscars later on.

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Hair and Henry

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Enjoyed a leisurely morning at Bumble and Bumble getting my hair chopped (bad self portrait below just to show length). Isn’t it funny how brilliant a haircut can make you feel, and I often wonder why I leave it so long between visits. On the way home I popped in to Anthropologie where I picked up this sweet ceramic basket for fruit. I’m going to use ours for our cherry tomatoes which Rorykins and I are addicted to (don’t they taste so much better when kept out of the fridge). Uncle Henry came around for lunch to celebrate his birthday. He came with a balloon corgi dog (from some hipster party) which we all loved. We sang “Happy Birthday” and enjoyed some One Girl Cookies chocolate cup cakes.

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A final farewell

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So the day has finally come. The Appleby’s are leaving NYC for an exciting new chapter in their lives in good old London. Spent a quiet morning with Rory at a deserted park thinking about how lucky I am to have shared this wonderful time with them in this amazing city. I feel like our little families have been through so many life experiences together – leaving loved ones in England for a New York adventure, landing in the same NY neighbourhood (twice, although the second time we followed them to DUMBO) getting pregnant and preparing for a baby, becoming parents and watching our babies grow up together all the while hanging out, chatting, laughing and growing as people. They even let us live with them for a week when we were evacuated (and it felt like a mini holiday). We call them our New York family and that’s exactly what they are. When they were leaving Mel said to me that you don’t get to meet someone like me very often and how fortuitous it was for them. This is exactly how we feel. Incredibly lucky. I obviously feel sad that this wonderful era has come to an end, and although the silver lining is that they are headed to London and we’ll see them whenever we visit, and may even, one day end up there together, I know that we’ll probably never live on the same street, our two babies will have grown and we’re unlikely to have this shared NYC adventure again. Needless to say I cried a lot. I feel so blessed that we’ve had these wonderful three and a half years together. We love you guys and wish you all the love and luck in the world for your next, exciting steps… counting the days until we’re back in the UK in a few weeks and until then let’s batter the hell out of Skype.

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A last supper

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Only one day to go until the Appleby’s leave NYC so this morning Rory and I went around to their empty apartment (so that Rory doesn’t think it’s odd when we don’t go there any more) and then headed to Marji’s to hang out with Baby ‘Gook’ (Luke) and Gray. Afterwards we met up with Lora, Christine and the children and headed to a local diner for a yellow feast of grilled cheese sandwiches, fries and chocolate milk shakes. The babies loved it. I had my afternoon off so headed in to Soho to meet O and check out his refurbished office space, which was very impressive. We snuck off for a yummy peanut butter and chocolate cup cake at Georgetown Cupcake before I headed home. We met up with Mel and Mia at Juliana’s (Joe was delayed at work) for a final NYC pizza supper. As a goodbye gift Mel gave Mia and Rory the same little sweet monkey toy. His is called Mia and her’s is called Rory. They’re going to chat a lot on Skype and keep the babies company when they miss each other. Later Joe came round to our place to give O a drill and say goodbye to him as he’ll be at work tomorrow when they leave. It made me cry. A lot. I think tomorrow’s going to be emotional.

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We got in!

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We’ve had excellent news, clever Rorykins has been accepted into nursery and starts two mornings a week, in September, yay. We’re thrilled as we love the nursery and it’s ethos, and have been attending parent and child classes there for a while. We celebrated by surprising O at work and having a nice coffee break with him. Rory loved riding the subway and seeing all of the busy traffic in Soho. He’s still loving the stickers and spent much of the morning admiring them. After a long nap (for both of us) we headed around to Christine and Gracie’s house for some afternoon tea and more sticker activities. Rory couldn’t get enough of baby Mason and even helped Christine put his booties on. Since we got home a little later, I needed to do a quick supper, so roasted some organic acorn squash and made this yummy gnocchi recipe. I substituted the stilton with goat’s cheese so it was slightly milder for Rory to eat, but still retained the sharpness which works well with the sweet pear. I also used gluten free sweet potato. Served it all with a fresh green salad and listened to Amy Winehouse’s brilliant last album (how good is the original Tear’s Dry track?) – Love a bit of Amy me.

Goat’s Cheese & Pear Gnocchi

INGREDIENTS

• A knob of butter
• 1 garlic clove, finely sliced
• 1 large pear, peeled, cored and cut into 2cm slices
• 2 tbsp crème fraîche
• 50g goat’s cheese
• 400g gnocchi
• Chopped parsley leaves, to serve

main courses | serves 2

1. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large pan over a medium heat and add the garlic. Once lightly golden, add the pear and reduce the heat. Cook for 3–4 minutes until softened slightly, then add the crème fraîche and stilton. Heat until the cheese melts.
2. Meanwhile, add the gnocchi to the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. They’re done when they rise to the surface; use a slotted spoon to transfer to the frying pan. Add enough cooking water to loosen the sauce. Toss to coat, season well, add the parsley and serve.

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Aubergine and Ricotta Bake

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Spent the morning at the park with Rory but after an hour had to come home to warm up, gosh it’s cold. Luckily Rory is still loving his reusable stickers and found lots more uses for them – on the window, collecting them in a pot and sticking them on our cabinets. His obsession did give me a little free time, so I finally got around to making Marji and family a meal since they’ve just had a gorgeous new baby boy and have enough things to worry about. I had a whole load of fresh ricotta, some aubergines and a couple of courgettes so decided to do this hearty aubergine and ricotta bake and just added a layer of courgettes. Listened to the brilliant Alabama Shakes album whilst doing it. In the afternoon we had a huge play date at ours. Mel is frantically busy packing up all of their belongings for the big move to England on Friday (boo hoo) so Mia came around to play with Rorykins. Lora, Oliver, baby Maeve, Marji, Gray and Baby Luke also joined. It was a fun afternoon but the highlight for the babies was probably all enjoying a whoopie pie from One Girl Cookies that Lora brought. Fun times. Thanks to Lora for the great photos of the children as I was too busy serving the cakes!

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggplants (1 to 1 1/4 pounds each), sliced lengthwise 3/4 inch thick
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for baking dish
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 container (15 ounces) part-skim ricotta cheese (1 2/3 cups)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano (or 2 teaspoons dried)
  • 1 jar (16 ounces) store-bought marinara sauce (2 cups)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Arrange eggplant slices in a single layer on two rimmed baking sheets. Brush lightly on both sides with oil; season with salt and pepper. Roast until eggplant is tender and golden, turning halfway through, 25 to 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together ricotta, eggs, 1/2 cup Parmesan, oregano, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Brush an 8-inch square baking dish with oil.
  3. Lay a fourth of eggplant slices in bottom of prepared dish; spread with half of marinara sauce. Top with another fourth of eggplant; spread with half of ricotta. Repeat layers, ending with ricotta; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan. Bake until bubbling and golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

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