Rainbow: Girls’ Edition.

The Short Sweet Sweet Life of Smokestack Beef

On December 15, 2012 we went to pick out a sweet sweet kitten.

On the way home we figured out his name: Smokestack Beef. But we decided to call him Smokey. We would have to wait until he got older to bring him home.

 On January 21, 2013 he came home. This is him on the bed at night. He was snuggling because he was such a snuggler.

He liked to sleep in the checker box while we were playing chess or checkers. 

He loved to look down when we went downstairs for breakfast.

He was always watching us.

On the way to Vermont for the summer, he peed in his cat carrier. So we had to give him a bath. And we never gave him another bath.

He dried out nicely and enjoyed his summer in Vermont.

He was getting big but he loved to hop up into this chair. He had a nice summer in Vermont with us.

We came back to New York and he was peeing on the couch a lot so we had to put him in the office where we are writing this story. Sorry but we didn’t get so many pictures. 

Then he started getting sick. On October 18 we had a playdate with our friends and we noticed Smokey wasn’t walking right. The next day he had a cold and went to the vet. A few days later, we found out he was going to die. He had FIP. And then we came up with this great idea of an early birthday party before he died. (His birthday was November 16, he would have been one.)

This is his birthday cake.

We all made him cards and these are the cards. Even our babysitter Margo made one.

We all said goodbye to him. This is the day he went to the vet to be euthanized. And that is the end of the story of the sweet sweet life of Smokestack Beef.

We love you sweet sweet Smokestack Beef even though you are not here.

RIP Smokestack “Smokey” Beef 

November 16, 2012 - October 25, 2013

- Written by Ollie, typed by Mommy



293/365 for @megnut is in the mail.

This card arrived the day we celebrated Smokey’s early birthday party. The kids thought it was for him, since it was a fish. So it was.

Describing a gentleman, who had “the air of a swaggerer, who would aim at being noticeable even at a show of fireworks,”

Mrs Cadwallader's bons mots

Mrs Cadwallader on words vs action:

“I wouldn’t talk of phlebotomy, I would empty a pot of leeches upon him.” p 363

On stinginess:

“[I]t will not do to keep one’s own pigs lean.” p 365

I'm reading Middlemarch and there are too many good passages to just dog ear in my book. So I begin posting them here with this bit on Mr Casaubon's soul:

“Mr Casaubon had never had a strong bodily frame, and his soul was sensitive without being enthusiastic: it was too languid to thrill out of self-consciousness into passionate delight; it went on fluttering in the swampy ground where it was hatched, thinking of its wings and never flying.” p 266

Why the bangs?

I noticed this:

Then this:

Why the bangs Khan? Why. The. Bangs. ?

Also where was the hair stylist on Ceti Alpha 5?

(photos from @finn)

14 years?!

So today is’s 14th birthday. I can’t even wrap my head around keeping (and not keeping up) a site for that long. The good news about this announcement is that I’m back to blogging over at So you don’t have to follow on Tumblr, and maybe you’ll even get this update via RSS, or carrier pigeon, or whatever works these days.

No promises about tons more updates, but that dream still lives. I’ve been cooking great food, sewing cute clothes, and have many triumphs to share. Really. 

Fourteen years ago I never imagined I’d still be running this site, even if it’s only a few updates every blue moon. So happy birthday teenage Let’s pretend you’ve gotten your braces off and are feeling awesome today!

Mario Batali

“Making a [road] trip about something other than getting somewhere is what makes it memorable.”

The family in France

Big kid travelers arrived in Paris.

We are on our first family vacation outside the US in two and a half years. It’s amazing what a difference that amount of time makes for kids. Look at these pros getting off the TGV from Geneva at the Gare de Lyon in Paris! They rolled their own suitcases and wore their backpacks. So capable!

I’d imagined blogging more on this trip but evenings have been spent reviewing websites and planning for the next day’s adventures. And clutching my aching stomach that is full of over ten kinds of cheeses. Warning: never travel to France with Ollie, who may love cheese more than all the Frenchmen combined.

So far we’ve had three different kinds of St Marcellin, Bleu de Gex, St Félicien, Pélardon, two different Rocamadour, pavé du Tarn, an Ossau-Iraty, and a mysterious slice from the fromagerie at the Maubert-Mutualité open air market. And that’s only the cheese we’ve bought in three days, and doesn’t include the cheeses served to us by friends we visited in the Jura before coming to Paris!

Pélardon. Just one of more than 10 cheeses we've eaten in last two days. Ooof!

We’ve also had sheep’s milk yogurt (yum!) and an awesome beef bouguignon. I have the recipe from the restaurant and will be attempting to improve my NYC version. We have walked the streets, played in several playgrounds, enjoyed the sights. The kids have been practicing their mercis and bon jours and will not speak French when put on the spot, but casually will when I least expect it. I suppose that make sense.

Today will be our first true touristing day. We’re off to the Eiffel Tower and then hoping for a long leisurely stroll back to our rented apartment in the Marais. And maybe a cheese stop along the way!

Summer cooking fantasy

The Greenmarket is starting to get really great now. And I’m remembering why I love living close to Bleecker St (the awesome food portion, not the un-awesome high-end boutiques potion). My summer eating plan is developing as follows: lots of vegetables, assiette de crudités placed on the table in little bowls and plates. Things like grated beets with mustard dressing, braised chard or a gratin of chard stems. A little salad of tiny potatoes and cucumbers. Basically whatever I can get at the market each time I go.

Then some meats. Prosciutto from Faicco’s or the like. Maybe a piece of grilled something if we’re in the mood for heavier meal, purchased at one of the two old-school butchers nearby. Always green salad while the lettuce is still sweet, before the heat of the summer. And cheeses galore from Murray’s, with a baguette. As a family we’re going to attempt to eat every cheese Murray’s sells.

And little olives, and cornichons. Maybe some night, rabbit sausage, and another evening a pâté. For dessert, fresh fruit. To drink, a rosé. Maybe some Lillet to start. All outside in our small garden, surrounded by herbs and flowers. (In this fantasy our compost bin loses its stink).

If I can achieve this, it should be a very nice summer.

Current obsessions

Blue Bottle’s New Orleans Style Iced Coffee. I tried this on my recent trip to San Francisco and was hooked after drinking only one. Maybe it was because I was hot and sweaty after a run along the Embarcadero. Maybe it was because of the view of the bridges and Mt. Tam across the Bay. Maybe it’s because it’s so delicious and mellow and a tad sweet and simply summer perfection in a glass. I am now making by the glass quart at home, weekly.

Japanese Sewing Books. Japanese girls’ clothes manage to be feminine and sweet without being garishly pink and purple. The fabrics and photos in the sewing books are lovely, and the styling is perfect. I’ve already got one and I want more. Luckily there seem to be plenty of resources online for patterns. I’ve been sewing a lot and these books make me want to sew clothes for Minna all day long.

These two obsessions work well together: I can get jacked up on iced coffee and sew for like ten hours straight!

Not joking capris

New pants

After my triumph with the Ooh La Shorts, I pushed my sewing boundaries and made these jester-like capris for Minna. It was the first time I sewed elastic straight to fabric and it worked out pretty well. I wanted to do something different to the hem to make them a little more feminine. Also I’m using the same fabric for shorts for Ollie and didn’t want them exactly alike.

Minna loves them and wanted to sleep in them last night. She’s wearing them today with tights underneath because it’s not warm enough to wear them alone. The fabric is lightweight cotton for summer. They may be my favorite sewing success yet!

Ooh la shorts!

One thing my mother and I have in common is an interest in French things. Another is sewing. A third is a bargain. A fourth is a challenge. So naturally when she sent me a link to some cute kids’ pantalons on a French site and suggested I make them, I couldn’t resist!


I had some chartreuse linen I got for free years ago. By a miracle I also had matching thread in my stash. I drew a pattern based on the photo of the shorts. And then I just whipped up some crazy pantalons for Minna. Looks like I didn’t make them tall enough, but I think they’ll still work. After her nap I’ll try and get her to model them. For now, I present:

The Ooh La Shorts:

Ooh la shorts

Stop that noise

Stop that noise!

Jackhammers interrupted our nice morning at the playground.

A relocation

It really pains me to do this, but for the time-being, I will be updating Megnut-type content over on Tumblr at (note the missing "u"). I wish there were an easy way to keep updating here, but I find the publishing system I'm using on this site is just too much of a pain (Melody, an open source Movable Type fork, if you care to know...) and it's keeping me from writing.

I've been using Tumblr for my other site, and I love the ease of posting. I find that ease is allowing me to write about making do, but the non-ease here is keeping me from writing about pretty much a lot of other stuff. It's been this way for ages, so this is an experiment for now. I'm going to post to Tumblr and we'll see how it goes. I hope you'll join me over there.

The anti-princess

I don’t know what it is about pink and princesses that pisses me off so much (ok, maybe I do, pink seemed frilly and lame when I was little, only prissy girls wore pink, strong capable girls wore all the colors of the rainbow, and princesses didn’t *do* anything, except wait for some prince to marry them, or eat an apple or grow long hair while locked in a tower…) but just when I was giving a little on the whole issue, I’ve discovered how difficult this battle actually is.

Minna and I go swimming every week together. The last few weeks her class has progressed to “separation”, and so I and the other parents sit alongside the pool and the kids swim without us. I thought it was all going so well, Minna was happy and swimming great. Today two other children joined our class so separation wasn’t possible. And with me, Minna decided she didn’t want to do the very activities she’d done so happily without me just last week. Our instructor came over to help.

“Minna, do you want to be a cat or a princess?”

“A princess!” said Minna

Horror on my face.

“Ok, let’s put on your pink princess gown, and your pink gloves and pull them up. And your sparkly crown and…” and on it went in an attempt to get Minna excited about the exercise.

It didn’t work, and princess or not, Minna wouldn’t budge from my arms. But I was so irritated to learn that this was happening RIGHT IN FRONT OF MY FACE for the past two weeks. If we have to pretend to be something else while swimming, why not be a whale? Or a shark? Or a fish? Something that actually SWIMS! Not a cat or a stupid princess in a crown and evening gloves. Who swims in that anyway?

And why can’t kids just swim? Why the need to pretend to be anything but a happy kid swimming?

It’s dedoubt time: no more pink in the house! And I swear pretty soon when people say, “Oh she’s so pretty!” I’m going to snappily reply, “And very CAPABLE too!”

How to make mozzarella

How to make mozzarella:

A neat little project I’m looking forward to doing with my kids.

Gary Caldwell, my former crew coach

"If you’re successful all the time, you sell yourself short. How do you stretch yourself to the point where you fail, to learn how to deal with adversity?"

This is more of a note for myself but you might like it too: my new favorite way to wile away the hours is to look at photos of Cabin Porn. What I wouldn't give for just a visit to one of these magical, remote places.

Older Entries