Spring Beginnings

The first of the tulips started to bloom yesterday, and they make me so happy to see. I love flowers generally, but tulips for me, even more than daffodils, are the harbinger of spring and green and warmth and gardens. My delight in them is endless, and I plant more every year. Cheap entertainment, are tulips if you add a few at a time and then forget what you planted in the cold of fall, so you get a gorgeous surprise in the spring.

We have been getting a lot done. I ran a 10-mile road race under a canopy of cherry blossoms in Washington DC, much more slowly than in 2019, but as a return to running it was pretty good – I finished, and I definitely wasn’t last. We had a 4-day weekend in DC as a family as well, and it was wonderful.

The giant split-trunk pines are down, and my relief comes every time I look out the window. Yard cleanup is in process. The old, broken attic stairs are out, and the new ones are in, needing just some trim and paint to make them look like they have always been there. Eli’s surgery was this week, just as the kids are on vacation and I’m working straight through, so I’ve prepped self-serve foods for myself and the kids, and this weekend we stocked up at the Asian and Indian grocery stores so the house is filled with fruits, veggies, yogurt drinks and ice cream for Eli as he recovers, and all the snacks.

In addition to a few things from Amazon Subscribe and Save, we’ve spent $621.28 on groceries this month, and that’s the bulk of what we expect to spend, with only fruit and milk for the rest of the month, and probably not much of that, as we have at least a week’s worth still. I tend to prefer to buy more in bulk and then eat it down than go to the grocery store every week, but when we’re deep in savings mode, which we’ll revert to for most of this year, it’s cheaper to do smaller shops on a weekly basis. We went to Costco in March, and will likely do that or BJs in June again, but in between we’ll spend as little as we can and eat up what we have.

Shopping at multiple grocery stores over the course of a month is a big part of our food strategy, and comparing prices is essential. For example, 10 lbs of onions at HMart, the big Korean grocery store near us was $10.99 today, but at Spiceland, the smaller Indian grocery store we frequent, that same bag was $5.99. By waiting, I saved $5 – not much in the grand scheme of things, but I got the same exact thing for almost half the price by paying attention. Because it’s a bit of a trip to go to these stores, we only go every few months, but it’s a fun outing Eli and I really enjoy, and we mostly go by ourselves, since The Adorables, now ages 14 and 10, can be left to their own devices for a few hours here and there.

The next time we go though, we’ll be taking kids with us. 4 arrives mid-May, and her older brother, 7, will arrive in July after he finishes first grade. We’re madly doing projects and going through saved clothes and supplies to get ready, as well as taking on some cleaning projects. This past weekend I emptied and scrubbed out the fridge, did some yard clean up, deep cleaned 14’s room, and several loads of laundry while Eli helped on all fronts and removed the old attic stairs & replaced them to boot.

We have a lot to do in the month before 4 gets here, and not a lot of time to get it done in.

We’re excited, nervous…all the feels. Going from 2 to 4 kids is going to be a thing, and these kids have had some trauma, and for at least a bit our biological kids are going to have it somewhat worse, to be sure. But we’re pretty good at rolling with things, so we’ll go day by day and do all the things we can in order to make it work. But in so many ways, this spring feels like we are in a brand new place – this is a real beginning for us with a larger, finally complete family, renovation on the near horizon, and other big life changes.

During the big things, it’s easy to lose sight of the small ones, but I never try to lose sight of food in the form of meal plans and our budget. We’ll be cooking a lot with the new kids and our existing ones. This month my food splurges – I do have small ones each month – were Tomato Passata and Fennel Pollen to make the now-famous Red Hen Pasta when Eli recovers, a dish apparently so good that your date will order the same dish and never share.

Eli will be on a modified diet for a bit, so my challenge is can i fill our weeks with healthful, varied foods that don’t require a knife to cut? The answer is challenge accepted. Hello to dal, soups and curries. And pasta, of course. Ragu bolognese, in all likelihood. Soft breads, like English Muffin bread. Maybe this Crispy Fried Tofu recipe. And a thing I am so excited to make – Pav Bhaji, served to me by my friends Kalpak and Preeti for dinner this winter. I bought and froze some Pav rolls to go with it already and they gave me the just-right Pav Bhaji Masala. It should be a fun experiment.

As we go into summer, and heavier soups and stews give way to simple things, this is still a good challenge. Dal, of course, is good all year long. Burrata and sliced tomatoes with a little bit of basil and balsamic vinegar over a soft bread is a good dinner when it’s really, really hot. And then there’s Gazpacho. I’ve made a lot of gazpacho in my time, and I can’t say enough good things about this one and then this one, which I was fortunate enough to have several times at Charley’s Crab in Palm Beach before it closed. And then of course fish – lots and lots of fork-tender fish.

And then as the weather cools later this year, I’ll probably splurge on some good Hungarian paprika in the fall and make Hungarian Goulash, which honestly, I’m thinking needs a side of pierogies.

We definitely won’t starve. And soon enough the seedlings will become the garden and our CSA, and we will be living in sunshine. Happy Spring!

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