first day of fall

Last night we welcomed fall by eating kabocha korroke (pumpkin croquettes). We also had a carribbean storm roll, which is spicy and covered in bonito flakes. Black cod salad, too. I Sushi — good, a little family style. I also bought some copper nail polish from the corner drugstore.

The sky's gone completely grey. It is a little sad. It does make the roses look electric.


Friday is my day to catch up on everything. It's misty and grey out which is very relaxing and good for getting work done. This is my coffee break.

First thing, the postman came to deliver a Groke for the Aug's birthday ( I really like the policeman and Hattifatteners that they have there, were it my birthday ^_^). The party theme is Moomin and his favourite character is the Groke right now, replacing Little My.

Tidying up, found a scrap piece of paper stuck under some painting we were doing yesterday.

We've started dressing the table every night, finding little flowers and leaves before dinner for the centrepiece. Recently, we've made dinnertime more structured  and this little ritual has been helpful. It's been going pretty well, unless we have company, in which case it all falls apart.

Accidentally heard Michael Jackson's Human Nature today, one of my favourite songs when I was 9. It is a perfect soundtrack to a grey day with roses. By the way, if you are looking for some beach reading, On Michael Jackson, by Margo Jefferson, an "incisive, and bracing work of cultural analysis [by the] Pulitzer-prize-winning critic for the New York Times" is perfect and lovely. Not too complex to read in the sun, but meaningful enough to be worth the time. It's not a celebrity biography, but uses Michael Jackson's career over several decades to consider different aspects of pop culture and also child development. The book cover is plain silver type on a white background, which was  a smart choice by the designer.

Summer herbs

I found some shiso leaves on sale, and I got to make a true version of my favourite summer dish, which is marinated tofu + ricotta + shiso (usually I use basil and mint instead of shiso), from Harumi Kurihara.  

The sauce is 1/4 cup soy sauce + 2 teaspoons superfine sugar + 1 Tablespoon mirin (or sake with 1 teaspoon sugar) + 1/2 Tablespoon grated ginger. Add in a little chili, lemon or lime if you want. Lightly heat the sauce. Then pour over soft or silken tofu topped with ricotta. Sprinkle on fresh shiso leaves, toasted sesame seeds and a handful of bonito flakes. 

This is so good with spinach and feta salad dressed with olive oil and lemon. I also love it with chili oil on top. The basil and mint option is easily just as nice as the shiso version. 

I think this is a good recipe for children to make, as the ratios are very flexible and there is a lot of pouring and sprinkling and little heating or cutting. Or to make yourself and maybe have some beer with lemon as you work away. Maybe the kids are at camp! Summer!

On the never never

It's mother's day next week. Here I am, old mom. One of the nice things about getting older is that your list of things you cannot imagine ever liking gets shorter. There was a time when I didn't like — at all — black olives (declared at age 3), the Rolling Stones (declared at age 11ish) or Westerns (didn't need to declare, because, obviously). The problem was that my first black olives were tinned, I got hold of the wrong end of the Rolling Stones on that Steel Wheels tour and, I don't know what to say about Westerns, they just seemed not interesting. I never would have imagined an amazing kalamata studded bread, or Emotional Rescue or Deadwood — luckily I wrinkled up a little bit and stumbled upon these things in the course of life.

However, I do have a list of things that I am very sure I will never, not ever like, and geraniums were on that list until last week. I had always thought of geraniums as good in theory: they have deep forest green foliage with bright neon flowers, but it's the wrong green and the wrong pink when you meet them. They smell like a plant, but not in a good way like tomato plants or grass. They have hairy leaves. Honestly, I felt pretty indignant that they were cluttering up the place when there are perfectly good poppies and ranunculus in need of a good home.

Anyway, of course immediately after posting that I don't like them, I found two beautiful geraniums. I am won over. (Oh, the lady at the plant store said she pinches off the flowers — she doesn't like them either. So, I did, and then I found they are pretty by themselves.)

Crystal Palace Geranium

Vancouver Centennial Geranium

By the way, a plant is a very good mother's day gift, don't you think?

Lucky day

I picked up a little clay flowerpot for Auggie at the $2 store. When we went to the garden centre, we visited the shade area, as our balcony is pretty shady. I told him he could choose a small plant to put in his pot. I was prepared to accept any plant when I offered, even one I don't much like (like geraniums), but then he picked this one.

It is an oxalis adenophylla, or a sorrel shamrock.

It's so pretty. Its stems are pink and today the first bud of a pink flower appeared.

This is my second happy shopping trip with the Augs. The last one was a trip to Ikea. I would pick up a couple of things and say, "hmm, which one do you think?", conversationally. I didn't expect a real answer. But each time he would look at the items very seriously for a moment, then point to one and say, "that one," very decisively. It was one of the first times he really seemed not a baby anymore and we had fun looking at all the different things. We weren't in a hurry. Then we went upstairs and shared a princess cake and bought a little train ("it's the SkyTrain") and a massive dragon puppet from the sale bin. The dragon was given the name Pedhammer and they had many conversations about vehicles and what dragons like to eat on the way home  — a perfect afternoon, in other words. Who knows if he will enjoy shopping with me as he grows older, so I appreciated it. I enjoy his company and we laugh a lot when it's just the two of us. I was going to put in a picture of the Ikea train, but instead, this is one of the many little vehicles working away in our garden this week.