2012 > 2013

Most memories start as a impersonal note on the calendar: Baby Due Date. Easter. 10th Anniversary. Photography Workshop. School Out. Blogging Conference. Birthday Dinner. Thanksgiving. Cookie Swap. Christmas…

Before you know it, you’ve swept through all the dates, snapped the photos, kept the mementos, and these moments are threaded together to make a full year of memories.

The uncomfortable bits – like labor, humidity, and waiting in line – tend to fade away, and the really important parts, such as holding one’s teeny newborn girl, are recalled as clearly as the day they took place.

At the start of a new year, it is as important to look at where we’ve come from, as it is to project where we’d like to go. I’ve been doing plenty of both this week, as we step out of holiday mode, and back into routine.

Here’s a short look back on some of my favorite holiday moments (all iPhone images). This year seemed extra special for some reason. Maybe it was the drifts of powder (I adore a white Christmas), or maybe because it was Clara’s first Christmas and that is just magical.

The wrapping is always far more interesting than the actual gifts when you are 9 months old.

You go ahead and slurp oysters, I’m just fine over herewith my felt food and Trumpette Mary Janes socks.

Mmm. Oysters.

A new generation of snow bunnies, sporting hand knit woollies from the Wimbush aunties and Nana.

Christmas Day, 2012. I love them so much.

Oh and ties from The Pleated Poppy? Adore.

An outing to the Nutcracker ballet with Noah.  He later described the ballerinas as ‘scrumptious’. Heaven help us in ten years.

What else to do when you are snowed in? With homemade gingerbread, this template, and help together with homemade marshmallow fluff.

Christmas morning. Overnight cinnamon rolls, peach preserves, fruit, and Prosecco. (Should I post this cinnamon roll recipe? It’s amazing.)

The cookies were beautiful this year. Not too rich or gooey. Perfect with tea.

The canine cousins came for a stay and whipped the boys through the snow on a sled. Talk about a thrill.

Here’s wishing you all a Happy New Year and the very best for 2013.

December Days

Not everyone understood my last rant post. My own mum gave me flack about it, “I thought Under the High Chair was a food blog” she said. It was, I defended, and gave the short version of how it has morphed into my personal blog. (Clearly Simple Bites is the ‘all food, all the time’ blog of the two.) “Well your aunt thinks you’re pregnant,” she sniffed.

However, unfounded baby rumors aside, a lot of people related to my sound off. A lot. Even one guy is sick and tired of being asked when he’s going to start having kids. And he’s a guy.

It’s all very interesting. In a nutshell, we’d all wish people would
stop asking us about how we are (or are not) building our families.

Now it isn’t my intention for a second post to be about pregnancy, but I did want to mention that I received a lot of comments, emails and remarks in response to the post, before we move onto something a tad less serious.

Like cookies.

Here we are, two weeks away from Christmas, and this little family is deep into holiday prep. Before I sat down to write this post, I piled a plate high with cookies for Danny as a bribe to address our Christmas cards. It’s a task I loathe; I hope my bribe works.

Stockings have been hung, a twig tree decorated, and the last few gifts stashed in the top of the closet. If only we had snow, I might really believe that the season of good tidings was upon us, but it is elusive this year save for a thin blanket of ice.

While we wait for the late-coming white drifts, the last days of the school year are getting crossed off the calendar, one-by-one, and we keep a growing list of activities we want to visit over the holidays.

My annual cookie swap has come and gone, and my freezer is lined with long plastic containers of fresh baked goodies. I organize them by similar flavors, so they maintain their cookie integrity. Everything chocolate in one flat, shortbread and vanilla cookies in another, and all gingerbread and spiced goodies are grouped together. It’s a good system.

My girls baked some beautiful cookies, fudge and chocolate-dipped caramels.

We barely fit everything on the table – over 1000 cookies -and my simple, festive centerpiece of tea lights in jam jars bathed the heaping plates in a warm glow. It’s a little bit like a beautiful dream, wouldn’t you agree?

I captured a few moments via Instagram just to prove it wasn’t all a dream.

This also could have been a scene from a reverie: a break from work and the kids to have an uninterrupted dinner with friends? Yes, please.

Let the holidays come. We’re ready for them and we fully intend to take the hustle and bustle at our own pace. After all, it is the most wonderful time of the year.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays wherever you may find yourself this December.

Baby News (ask me about my kids)

A Harvest Dinner

Posts aren’t exactly tumbling out themselves from the cracks and crevices of my laptop and self-publishing, so until that happens (wait, that would be some strange content) we’re just going to play catch up for a bit.

It’s no secret that I’ve been grasping at summer,
not wanting to let it slip away, so last month we hauled our dining room table out
onto the freshly mown grass, added the picnic table, plus a table I use
for photography, and hosted a harvest dinner party under the trees.

I invited over 60 people (what was I thinking?), and in the end we were 44, kids and all.

Check out the full recap with pictures and tips over on Simple Bites, but for now here are a few Instagrams images I managed to snap.

These tomatoes were the inspiration for a simple tomato salad with
buffalo mozzarella, fresh torn basil, and a sherry vinaigrette.

The gathering place of friends at it conception, with 23 indoor and outdoor chairs that we managed to round up.

There were simple place cards on apples for the guests, and jam jars for water glasses; wildflower bouquets and red wine for all.

 Kids corner: a self-serve snacking station complete with wraps, drinks, muffins, fruit & vegetables.

Dinner under the willow tree. There may have been a few babies present.

The only dish I managed to snap a photo of, and my favorite of the day:
poached salmon, homemade tarragon aioli, dill, pickled ramps, and our
own eggs.

In the middle of winter I’m going to gaze at this photo and remember the warm night air, the sweetness of the tomatoes, the rippling laughter…and then start planning the next event.

Friends brought desserts of all kinds – cherry clafouti, apple bundt cake, blueberry pie, peach crisp and much more. We ended the evening on a sweet note, to be sure.

Here is a one-minute recap of the event with Danny’s first attempt at timelapse photography. ..The end is a natural fade-to-black, as we lingered outside until it was nearly night…

Until next summer…

Grasping at summer


I’ve never been one to usher in the arrival of fall with whoops and cheers, eagerly abandoning the over-ripening tomatoes and mammoth zucchinis for early apples and taut leeks.

I know the fall produce season is a good long one, so these days I overlook the (howbeit, beautiful) bushels of oval Roma tomatoes at the market, and pass over the heaps of Spartan apples in favor of yet another basket of peaches, a flat of berries (perhaps the last for many months), a dozen ears of corn, and the largest bundle of basil to be found.

Back in the kitchen, I turn the basil into pesto and freeze it in muffin cups for use during the winter. The boys hunker down by the compost pile and shuck the corn for me, so I can cut it off the cob and add it to the freezer as well.

I serve up salad after salad for dinner, followed by generous slices of melon, which we all -even Clara- eat until the floor under the table is sticky and the rinds are heaped on our plates.

I understand that autumn’s arrival is inevitable. I don’t pretend to ignore the landscape of school supplies spreading across the buffet. I’m aware, painfully so, of the faint tint of gold on the leaves in the back forest.

Even today, as we picnicked with lemonade and cookies on the grass (an undeniable attempt to salvage summer), I felt a chill in the air. Clara’s bare feet felt clammy. And I shivered even though the sun was shining.


Yes, August hangs by mere moments, but I’m choosing to live in them, deliberately.

On Sunday I cannon-balled off the diving board at my in-laws, amid shrieks from my boys. I let myself sink to the bottom of the pool, relished the cool quiet, then surfaced in the sun. Perhaps it would be the last swim of the season.

I stripped Clara naked and dunked her in the clear blue salt water as well. She’s only going to have a soft teeny dimpled bottom to appreciate for so long. At five months she’s sitting and nearly crawling. In as much as I’m aware of the season’s turning, I’m as painfully aware of how quickly she is growing up, transforming from infant to little girl.


Christmas products are in stores and holiday baking is starting to plaster Pinterest, yet I’m firmly stuck on summer. I’m buying up stone fruit and baking desserts like Vanilla-Biscuit Peach & Plum Cobbler, which Danny and I consume together after the children are in bed, our spoons congenially scraping the bottoms of our bowls together.

The best way I can come to terms with the approaching autumn (and subsequent winter) is to preserve the summer season in jars. This week I roasted trays and trays of peaches slowly in the oven, and as they perfumed the house, they reduced into a thick, rich butter. I seasoned the butter with a dusting of fresh cinnamon, tipped it into hot jars, and gave them the hot water canner treatment for 15 minutes.

Once cooled, the pints of cinnamon-peach butter join the other jars in my pantry: sweet zucchini relish, pickles, cherry-plum jam, strawberry jam, blueberry butter, sliced peaches, cherries in vanilla syrup, and more.

Slowly, one jar at a time, I am conceding the end of summer.