happy birthday, Nels!

Nels David Hogaboom

a birth story

Born at home to mom Kelly, dad Ralph, and sibling Phoenix
1:20 AM Wednesday April 7, 2004
8 pounds 7 ounces
21 inches long

April 6th, 9 AM – is it or isn’t it?

A couple hours after I wake up on Tuesday I’m having mild contractions that are only a tiny bit more intense than the Braxton Hicks contractions I’d had throughout the last half of my pregnancy. They are only slightly painful and certainly not too intense. Nevertheless, they are somewhat distracting and never truly subside, coming anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes apart. Ralph senses things are going to go into motion and comes home at noon, starting his two weeks off of work. He calls my mom at about 3 PM and tells her to head up to see us (she leaves about 5 PM). At this point I am hopeful of labor but also feeling somewhat silly at the thought I might be treating everyone to a false alarm. My mom arrives at around 9 PM and she and Ralph start writing down my contractions, calling midwives, and cleaning the house up a bit.

April 6th, 10 PM – the real thing

My mom and I are watching a movie together and my contractions are still coming about 10 minutes apart. I still claim I am unsure if labor is going someplace. But everyone is noticing I pause the movie during each contraction so I can concentrate on getting though it. I’m undecided if I should walk around to get things moving or lie down and rest in between contractions. I’m afraid of another long labor – eighteen hours – like I had with my first child. Suddenly at about 10:30 PM I hop up from the bed and turn off the movie, since contractions have sped up to about four minutes apart. Naturally my mom and Ralph are very excited and go about making phone calls and preparations while I pace the floor and cope with each contraction. It is going quite well but I keep telling myself these are the “easy” contractions and I try not to worry about what’t to come.

Around 10:30 my midwives and my doula start arriving and I am focusing inward in the classic “Laborland” manner. I notice peripherally how efficient and friendly everyone is, setting up the bed, laying out blankets and birth supplies and getting snacks. Everyone is wonderful to me and provides me with water and encouragement between contractions, respectful silence and privacy during. I feel very protected and honored and so it is easy not to be fearful. My doula Elizabeth arrives and strokes my back and speaks softly to me. She puts me nearly to sleep in between contractions. I am feeling so grateful for the love and encouragement I am getting. I know I am coping very well and in fact since I am doing so well I don’t think I am very far along.

April 7th, Midnight – silliest labor quote

Things are intense but I don’t want a check to see how far I’ve dilated. I am somewhat afraid to discover all the work I am doing hasn’t gotten me anywhere. Laura (one of the midwives) suggests I get into the tub. I’d always thought of the tub as what you use as a last resort toward the end of labor so I tell her I can wait. After a few more contractions I decide she’s right. It’s time to get in, and I am hoping for some pain relief. I spend about 40 minutes in the tub with contractions edging up their intensity. Everyone is around me encouraging me and vocalizing though my contractions. Elizabeth holds my hands and breathes with me through the contractions, then puts a cold cloth on my head and neck in between. Everyone helps keep me calm and focused, as does the knowledge I have to take each contraction one at a time. Close to 1 AM I feel the urge to have Ralph hold and kiss me while I rest, and help talk me through contractions (he’s repeating something I read from Birthing From Within: “Labor is hard work, it hurts, and you can do it”). I don’t realize at the time but I am going through transition. After a few contractions I start to feel a little of that, well – grunting urge. Thanks to my study of natural birth, I know it is perfectly okay to vocalize and push a little to help with the pain and I instinctively do so. The midwives clue into what I am doing and are back in the room. Laura says, “Gee Kelly, it sounds like you’re pushing!” and I reply (silly!) “I’m not really pushing, it just feels good to bear down a little bit”. These contractions are pretty rough but everyone is helping me so much it is still very manageable.

April 7th, 1:10 AM – OUCH, OUCH, OUCH!

Kathy convinces me to let her check me and informs me not only am I completely dilated, but that the baby’s head has descended quite a bit. I am completely amazed at this (despite knowing I am feeling the urge to push) and even accuse everyone of just saying that to make me feel better! (I feel a little foolish about this later). During each contraction I am feeling the pain in my hips, all the way to the bone, which my midwives tell me is a sign the baby is moving. Kathy tells me later I comment that it is like a crowbar prying my pelvis apart. Despite the pain I am coping well and in between the contractions I am still calm. I comment that I am not feeling any pressure in my bottom yet and I think to myself this means I have a ways to go. Oops, I speak too soon – with the next contraction I feel the baby AT THE DOOR, so to speak. This takes me by surprise and my labor sounds change from low and powerful to very alarmed and a little screechy. Everyone is talking to me and trying to help me calm down and focus. I am amazed at the pain and pressure and overcome with an almost frantic need to push. I am pushing, pushing, pushing, before I can tune into my midwives telling me to ease off. I do the best I can and manage to ease off a bit and direct my energies more constructively. Despite the pain I am overjoyed to know I am so close and my baby will be here any minute. “I know I will feel so good when I see my baby”, I tell myself and this helps me. Kathy tells me to reach down and feel the head and after an initial hesitation I do, surprised again at how soft and smooth it is. I can feel each part of his head I deliver. It hurts! But I know I am close. The head is out and then I am surprised by the fullness and difficulty of the shoulders, which I do not remember from my first birth.

April 7th, 1:20 AM – Nels is born

With one final push I feel my baby being delivered and I am surprised it is already over. I have been kneeling in the tub and so immediately turn around and Ralph tells me later I am saying, “Give me my baby! I want to hold my baby!” to the midwives who are doing their thing. I have a vision of my child’s long, smooth body floating in the water, the room lit by candlelight in a soft glow. Within seconds he is in my arms and I am crying and Ralph is crying and the whole room is full of a collective soft and surprised murmur. I am holding him to my chest and saying, “I can’t believe it, I can’t believe it!” over and over, feeling so filled with surprise and happiness. He is perfect and so soft and I feel wonderful. I realize I have done it, I have given birth to a healthy baby in my own home, with my own power.

April 7th, early morning – getting to know you

I stay in the water crying and holding my baby for several minutes before anyone thinks to discover the baby’s sex. I hold my child away from my chest and in between squirming legs and the umbilical cord I see a penis! Of course, this is perfect. Everything feels perfect! After a few more minutes I am ready to get out of the water and get cleaned up, but I know we have to wait for the placenta. I feel like this takes forever but it probably is only a fifteen minute wait. Another surprising feeling of fullness and then the placenta is delivered. Kathy has to pull the cord a bit and gently massage my tummy to get the whole thing in one piece. My mom is on the phone with my dad and has to pass the phone around so she can cut the cord. I am ready to get out and dry off and nurse my second child.

I am helped out of the tub and into some dry clothes. I am so happy to have so much loving help. I prop myself up on the bed and hold my son to my breast. He latches almost immediately like a pro. I keep asking my husband, “Is this really happening?” because it has gone like a dream and I am so happy. After some time of nursing the midwife eventually takes my son to the foot of the bed to weigh him and check his limbs and reflexes. Elizabeth brings me food – cheese, bread, apples and oranges. My pulse is checked and found to be high (100) so I am encouraged to drink a huge glass of water (this happened with my first child too). My afterpains are intense, more so than with Phoenix, but I know this to be normal. I breathe through them. Phoenix wakes up and is brought into the room, looking cranky and confused. I kiss my oldest child and introduce them to their brother; then Ralph takes Phee back to the bedroom to settle them back to sleep. Kathy checks my bottom out and finds only two tiny tears, no need for sutures. The energy of the house is settling, people are packing things, Elizabeth says goodbye. Laura leaves too and I take a shower with Kathy’s help. She stays long enough to give postpartum instructions and asks me to page her when I can pee. I am a little anxious about this myself, for vague fear of a catheter. Kathy leaves about 3:20 and as her car is pulling out I am able to use the bathroom, feeling now finally that everything is alright.

My husband is looking dead tired. I am wired and unable to sleep. We send my mom off to bed. I hold my son who is still awake! He is drowsy though and wants to snuggle. At about 4:30 AM I finally fall asleep on the bed, Ralph on the couch, holding his son. We are awakened just before 7 AM to the joyful sounds of our firstborn running through the house talking excitedly to Grandma. Grandma looks like she really needs a cup of coffee.


The pandemic and resultant quarantine – as Washington state residents, we’re early adopters – would be scary enough in any case, but it sucks when you’ve got children, even presumably healthy ones. Small children always seem so vulnerable; my teenagers, however, can have grownup-sized anxieties with a tad bit less historical perspective than might otherwise give them comfort.

Today, coincidentally, was the first day of the year I felt the heat of spring when I opened the door. My first thought: the planet will survive. We human beings have made some big messes and stand to make more. The planet utterly doesn’t give a fuck.

Phoenix and I went on a neighborhood walk, carefully observing distancing practices of course. Just a simple walk – after only a week of quarantine – felt invigorating, sacred. I asked how his friends were doing. I asked how he was holding up. In is social circle, Phoenix occupies a similar role as I do in mine – expected to support, expected to listen and empathize, expected to be that emotional buffer for others. I tell him to be cautious about this. I tell him, “the day before yesterday I fielded a lot of calls. I felt just fine all day long, listening to others and helping them. But then that night I was beset by anxiety and couldn’t fall asleep until six A.M.”

Two more months, or so? Let’s see.

Kelly Hogaboom, jeans livestream

seams legit: jeans

Kelly Hogaboom, jeans livestream

Update: this sew-along is finished, and all videos are linked at the bottom of the post!

Well, we did it.

We hosted twelve months of sewing goodness!

I have enjoyed, so very much, designing these classes and livestreaming with you all.

This month, we made a pair of jeans! In my videos (four in total) I will start with a bit of fitting advice – and a bit of conversation about all the different parts of the jeans.

I’m using a pattern I drafted myself, for a friend – however, all jeans should have some version of the following pieces – design features you should become acquainted with. These are explained in my first video.

You can sign up for these livestream videos on Facebook, if you want a reminder and updates!

A reminder that for all sew-alongs in my Seams Legit series you need:

1. a machine with its manual; the machine needs to be tuned-up and sewing a balanced zig-zag

2. the supplies listed in the pattern, as well as a thorough read-through of the pattern you use

This project will take place in installments (edit: these are linked at the bottom of this post).

So here’s what you need to do:

1. read through this post, & purchase your pattern & supplies

2. pre-treat your fabrics

3. sew with us live in December (on my FB page or my Twitch stream)!

Update: here are all four videos:

[ video 1: cutting and marking ] [ video 2: pockets, front and back ] [ video 3: front fly & side seams ] [ video 4: waistband, carriers, and finishing ]



Rotary cutter and mat; marking tools & tracing medium

Sewing machine with balanced zig zag; sewing machine manual

To make jeans you will need:

your pattern

your denim, pocket fabric & – optional – extra fabric for a muslin

construction thread & topstitching thread

zipper and button

sewing machine needles (jeans, sharp, or universal; topstitching if you use a heavy thread)

Optional materials

sticky, washaway stabilizer (for buttonhole)

fusible web (for belt carriers)

awl (for button installation)

Happy new year, peeps! See you on the flip side. 

2019 "Seams Legit" calendar

Happy Father's Day, Dad

“wherein the monuments thereof are kept and preserved”

Today another little piece of my history smoldered and stuttered out. The hardware store I worked at age seventeen closed abruptly. Employees were given notice two days ago. I only found out this evening, a few hours after they shuttered for good.

The hardware store was my second-ever job. But more relevantly I worked there alongside my father, who served there much of my life.

Working with him was such an incredible joy.

My dad loved his job and he was good at his job. His customers esteemed him too. Especially the women, because he was helpful, professional, kind, tall, and courteous. Later I’d found out so many men don’t live up.

So sure I learned about plumbing and electrical stuff and how to make keys and what kinds of creepy chemicals and solvents did what, and how a pressure cooker worked and some basics of automotive care. Yeah. But more than that, I learned something truly valuable. I learned how important it was not to squander my working hours, if at all possible. I learned to place my self-respect over a paycheck if at all possible and I mean if at all possible, and over status and over what other people’s expectations were – or what I guessed they might be.

Being raised female, I’d been told a hundred ways by a thousand people that I needed to make everyone happy before I could even think about my needs. So that was set against me. But I learned something different, in working with my father. I don’t remember a single speech or lecture. I remember his example. It somehow shone through a lot of life’s dross.

That’s how I learned how to love a job – and to respect myself at a job. That’s how I learned to love a good man, and I suppose in part how I ended up finding a good man.

So today it hurt a little to know I couldn’t walk through the aisles one last time, to bring my sons along and just tell them a little about it, before taking them out to coffee. See I know those aisles would smell the same as twenty-five years ago, in the low golden light the place always seemed to hold. Fertilizer and rubber and the little drawers of precious lamp switches and chains, and a bleachy squeak and most the things you need for your home and if you couldn’t find those things, Dave could tell you where else to look.

It hurt a little to know that a bit more of my father is gone, that I too have diminished. Yet again! Another one of life’s grubby little robberies.

But, shit. I don’t connect with self-pity when it goes up in smoke, if it’s stolen, dies out or fades away. That’s life! Like – it’s all going to burn, right? There is no posterity, some day it will all be annihilated, and it has often seemed a great and silly game that so many want to pretend otherwise. Who doesn’t know this? Damn. I find comfort in that absurdity, that groundlessness.

Another thing I learned at my father’s hand: my Buddhist practice.

So I just grieve. It’s simpler. I’ll miss the store – terribly, of course. Like I miss my family home, like I miss my grandparents’ home, like I miss all those things lost to me. Like I miss my father.

But see: I had them. I held these things, I moved through these rooms and that sun fell on my face. I will always be grateful for this golden dust in my veins, shaking it in my tingling fingertips. I can still feel that life. I won’t lose that gratitude. That, I treasure and hold as mine.

And I honor loss. That’s why I write about it here.

But I’m not sure I’d enjoy things as much as I do, if I felt entitled to them staying exactly the way I want them, for exactly as long as I demand.

Happy Father's Day, Dad a

Kelly Hogaboom, dress shirt livestream

seams legit: dress shirt

Kelly Hogaboom, dress shirt livestream

I cannot believe this is the penultimate post in this series! I have enjoyed, so very much, designing these classes and livestreaming with you all.

This month, we are making a simple button-up shirt – sometimes called a “dress shirt”. In truth, you can make this garment as casual or as elegant as you like depending on your fabrics and techniques. In this case, our dress shirt has the following:

1. a front placket with buttons and buttonholes
2. a collar and separate stand
3. a long, cuffed sleeve 
4. a curved hem
5. a back yoke

The pattern we are using is from Lekala and is named “Shirt – Sewing Pattern #6026” – and it’ s free! Even though the pattern is labeled as “men’s”, in truth it’s simply a boxy-fit shirt that will work on most bodies. If you want something more form-fitting and you have a full bust and/or full hip, you can look for a women’s shirt pattern with darts or princess seams.

The cuff included is a placket cuff, but due to my client’s request I will be making a simple cuff (without an attendant sleeve placket).

Lekala patterns are a bit unique. The pattern is not a multi-size pattern, but is generated according to your measurements. You will need to measure your height, bust/chest, low hip, shoulder width, and center back length to hem. In addition, you will need to put in an indicator for belly protuberance. The site itself has helpful photos of how to take these measurements – just note that there is an error in the center back length to hem diagram. The diagram should show the vertical measurement extending from the neck to the hem of the shirt (not the waist).

Bootstrap patterns can take some getting used to. In a tutorial for their dress form (which is fantastic!), I go into more detail as to how to use their interface.  Please post any questions you have below!

One more note on this specific pattern. You can finish the shirt with snaps or buttonholes; I will be demonstrating using my old Singer buttonholer. However, you can use whatever buttonhole attachment your machine has to offer. You can also create a buttonhole with a simple zig zag – here’s a great tutorial.

No matter what kind of buttonhole you are creating, you are expected to practice and to make a couple samples!

A reminder that for all sew-alongs in my Seams Legit series you need:

1. a machine with its manual; the machine needs to be tuned-up and sewing a balanced zig-zag

2. the supplies listed in the pattern, as well as a thorough read-through of the pattern you use

This project will take place in installments (edit: these are linked at the bottom of this post).


Rotary cutter and mat; marking tools & tracing medium

Sewing machine with balanced zig zag; sewing machine manual

The pattern

Thread and machine needle: universal or sharp

Shirting fabric such as cotton, flannel, or light linen

Buttons & buttonholer &/or buttonhole practice

Non-stretch interfacing (optional)

So here’s what you need to do:

1. read through this post, & purchase your pattern & supplies

2. pre-treat your fabrics

3. sew with us live in November (on my FB page or my Twitch stream)!


We are all finished and the shirt is lovely!


View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Bespoke Hogaboom (@kellyhogaboom) on

Here are the videos detailing my process, in order:

[ video 1 ][ video 2 ][ video 3 ]

2019 Lk

Hogaboom Kids Vs. Huge Salmon

a thousand fumbly moments

Hogaboom Kids Vs. Huge Salmon

Just one teensy tiny anecdote about what it’s like supporting a trans child.

I’m at a medical appointment with my oldest.

Practitioner: chit-chat chit-chat [misgenders my child] chit-chat. Then she says right away, “I really like the name Phoenix!”

Me: “Thank you! You know, he picked that name out himself. When he was eight! So I can’t take the credit!”

Practitioner seems taken aback, because of the pronoun correction probably but also, in my experience, people often don’t understand how a child could “pick out” their own name.

“What… what was their name before?”

Me, smiling and relaxed and making eye contact and really hearing that question and answering a bit slowly: “You know, I don’t usually share that! Because… he’d prefer I don’t.”

Practitioner says something polite, seems a little uncertain (and may have been worried she shouldn’t have asked that) but the room still feels pretty relaxed.

Me [laughing]: “You know it’s amazing when your child wants to change their name, it’s like – dang my feelings are hurt a little! I’m so used to it now – it’s been years.”

Practitioner nods and laughs, then:

Phoenix: “I think of it as a gift. It’s a gift my mom gave me,” – he places his hands forward in a little open prayer shape – “and I appreciated it, and I decided to pass it on.”


These interactions happen pretty regularly. I am not complaining about this practitioner at all. She was kind throughout, I’ll add.

I will say if you are not trans, you have no idea what it’s like to be stared at, to be subject to gender policing, constant misgendering, hostile glares, invasive questions, physical threats – all of the above due to your perceived gender identity.

I don’t know what that’s like either, as I am cisgender. But it’s fatiguing, I can tell you that much.

By way of one tiny example, my entire life I have been able to stroll into a bathroom and know no one will question why I’m in there or hate crime my ass because of how they perceive my gender and whether it belongs to me. So, I didn’t think much about public bathrooms for much of my life. But I have a teeny tiny window into the difficulty now, due to how much time I’m with my child and/or supporting my child. Life is much harder, when one can’t relax about public bathrooms! Single use and genderless restrooms are literally a public health issue, but many cisgender people don’t see that nor advocate for these bathrooms as passionately as they should.

I remember the first time my oldest child used the men’s changing room at a department store. I will never forget the employee (Aberdeen Marshalls) who said, “OK sir – right this way!” and escorted my child with a relaxed wave of her arm. Bless that fucking woman. I sat there with tears welling up in my eyes and tried to act casual. I’d been prepared for something else.

It’s not that people who are inclusive or who do the right thing deserve special acclaim, or a medal. It’s that I can be so apprehensive that I get this flood of relief when people are kind or bare-minimum decent.

So if you’re cisgender, when you think or say, “Why don’t ‘they’ – ” I want to encourage you to shut up one hundred percent and stop talking. You’re just wrong, you’re embarrassing yourself, and you can do better. And while there are people who might be willing to take you under their wing and explain things to you – sometimes I’m that person! – at the end of the day, if you keep doggedly grasping old ideas and crummy ones you might find people aren’t too patient with you nor interested in you.

Phoenix and I discussed this conversation when we got in the car. We giggled about it a bit. “I think [the practitioner] was just ignorant,” Phoenix said – meaning, did not pick up on clues that Phoenix was trans, and in general is undereducated on trans issues. I think that is an accurate assessment.

I can’t speak for Phoenix, but I can say ignorance is interesting to me. We are all ignorant in some way or another. But how we handle things when our ignorance is exposed – that is the mark of our character. 

seams legit: anorak

OK so – last month, we made up our trousers. I almost perished here and there, but we got through it – with great results, to be honest!

So listen – this month we’re amping things up before our break for Halloween sewing in October. We are making an anorak – a loose-fitting, raglan coat featuring lots of pockets, sleeve tabs, a detachable hood – and a full lining!

It’s going to be legit!

The pattern we are using for this sew-along is the Andie pattern by Rebecca Page. There are two versions of the pattern: a child’s and a women’s (you can also buy both in the bundle). You can see plenty of great tester photos in the Facebook album!

Chest: 16 1/2″ to 30″

Bust: 30″ – 54″
Hip: 33″ – 57″

A reminder that for all sew-alongs in my Seams Legit series you need:

1. a machine with its manual; the machine needs to be tuned-up and sewing a balanced zig-zag

2. the supplies listed in the pattern, as well as a thorough read-through of the pattern you use

This sew-along will take place in installments:

1. September 25, 2019: cutting, interfacing, & marking [ video here ]2. September 26, 2019: back, loops, and straps [ video here ]3. September 27, 2019: coat construction [ video here ]4. September , 2019: finishing and hood [ video here ]


Rotary cutter and mat; marking tools & tracing medium

Sewing machine with balanced zig zag; sewing machine manual

Andie pattern (children’s, women’s, or bundle)

Thread and machine needle: universal or sharp

Bottomweight fabric such as linen, suiting, twill, or cotton

Lining fabric

Snaps or buttons

Sliders (optional)

Drawstring (for optional hood)

Eyelets (for optional hood)

Non-stretch interfacing (1 yard)

So here’s what you need to do:

1. read through this post, & purchase your pattern & supplies

2. pre-treat your fabrics

3. sew with us live in September (on my FB page or my Twitch stream)!

Start here, with video 1:

Kelly Hogaboom, anorak livestream


“seams legit” sewing lesson: trousers!

Hello and – how are you faring in the heat (Northern Hemisphere peeps)? We had a great time last month sewing a hoodie. This month we are making trousers!

So listen – this sew-along separates the wheat from the chaff. The women from the girls. The homies from the squares! It isn’t so much that this project is difficult, it is just rather detail-oriented! The good news is, we will gain experience in some great techniques: a lapped zip fly, faced front pockets, welt back pockets, and a waistband with belt loops.

C’mon – it’ll be fun!

The pattern we are using for the sew-along is the Chinos pattern from Wardrobe by Me. This is a men’s cut pattern with the following size range:

waist: 32″ to 41″
hip: 35″ to 44″

And for the month of August, pattern designer Christina has offered a discount code for $2 off the pattern; just use Chino19 in checkout!

Kelly Hogaboom, trousers livestream

You can sign up for this livestream videos on Facebook, if you want a reminder and updates!

A reminder that for all sew-alongs in my Seams Legit series you need:

1. a machine with its manual; the machine needs to be tuned-up and sewing a balanced zig-zag

2. the supplies listed in the pattern, as well as a thorough read-through of the pattern you use

This sew-along will take place in three installments:

1. August 2nd, 2019: cutting, interfacing, & marking [ video here ]2. August 16th*, 2019: front and back pockets, plus zip fly [ video here ]3. August 30th, 2019: pant construction & finishing [ video here ]


Rotary cutter and mat; marking tools & tracing medium

Sewing machine with balanced zig zag; sewing machine manual

Chinos pattern

Thread and machine needle: universal or sharp

Bottomweight fabric such as linen, suiting, twill, or cotton

Pocket lining fabric, preferably cotton



Non-stretch interfacing (1 yard)

So here’s what you need to do:

1. read through this post, & purchase your pattern & supplies

2. pre-treat your fabrics

3. sew with us live on the 2nd, 16th*, and 30th (on my FB page or my Twitch stream)!

Start here, with video 1:

Kelly Hogaboom, Trouser livestream

* In the second video, during the back welt pockets, I have a bit of a struggle. This is due to a discrepancy in the pattern, where it refers to the RS/WS of the pockets. If, like me, you are using a printed fabric and want the print to show when the pants are inside out, you will be attaching the facings (for front pockets and back pockets) to the unprinted side. I apologize for my muddle in the video! 




Pierogis are time intensive. You can make the sour cream, the dough, and the potato filling the day before. Refrigerate them all, and place the dough on the counter for about an hour before you split the dough into balls.

Makes 32 pierogis!

Sour cream
1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight or boiled twenty minutes
2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon pink salt, plus more to taste
juice of one lemonwater

5 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
1/3 cup vegan butter
softened lukewarm water

3 medium potatoes
1/3 cup soy milk
1/3 cup vegan butter
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
juice of one lemon
black pepper
seasoning salt

Peanut oil for frying

Sour cream:
Rinse the cashews and process them, adding the remaining ingredients and water to the consistency you’d like. Process, process, process, using a spatula to scrape down the mix periodically. Be patient. You can get the sour cream very smooth! Salt to taste then set in the refrigerator, covered.

Mix dough ingredients using enough water to make a very soft, tacky dough. Kneading for several minutes; really take your time kneading and add water sparingly. While you don’t want the dough to stick to the table, a softer dough will roll out better and a firm one will be frustrating. Set in an oiled bowl to rise until doubled in size (or refrigerate overnight, removing the bowl two hours before you want to start forming balls for the pierogis).

Potato filling:
Peel and wash potatoes; cut into even chunks about the size of a golf ball. Bring a tureen of salted water to boil. Boil potatoes until tender when pieced with a fork. Drain the potatoes, then rice or mash them well until they are smooth (don’t use a mixer or food processor)! Heat the soy milk and add it as well as the rest of the filling ingredients, whisking and varying the lemon juice to taste.

To assemble:
Clean your counter space and lightly dust with flour. When the dough has warmed to room temperature, split it into 32 even sections (by first splitting the dough into two halves, then each section halves again, and so forth) and roll these 32 blobs into a ball, placing these balls next to one another and covering with a damp cloth or plastic wrap. Let rest thirty minutes and lay out waxed paper for the formed pierogis.

Place a dish of lukewarm water at hand. Heat a large tureen of salted water while you stuff the pierogis. I simply mash each ball with the palm of my hand, and my pierogi partner fills them with about 1 1/2 tablespoons of filling. Before sealing, wet half the dough circle rim with water and really pinch them closed, carefully enclosing all your potato filling (you will get the hang of this quickly). Set each pierogi on wax paper until they are all finished and in a series of rows.

Pinch them closed again right before boiling! A split pierogi is a sad thing. I mean, so I hear. I’ve never split one, myself! :brag:

Carefully add the pierogi to the now-boiling tureen by slipping them in the water. Gently boil the pierogi in batches. Since this is a yeasted dough, they will likely float right away. Carefully turn them in the soft boil and cook about five minutes, until they are glossy and sealed. Remove each one with a slotted spoon, back to a rack so they can drain. You want them as dry as possible for the next stage.

When the pierogi are boiled go ahead and carefully pour out your tureen, wipe down your stovetop, and set your pan(s) out to fry on medium high heat (I use two large cast iron pans). Add a healthy bit of peanut oil and get the pan all warmed up. Carefully add pierogi to the pan(s) – they might sputter a bit – being careful not to overcrowd as you cook in batches. You might fiddle with the heat a bit here; you want them to cook to golden brown relatively quickly. Remove each to a warm plate as you cook.

Serve pierogi with a side of sour cream and watch them disappear! It’s *magic*!

though they be but little, they are fierce

The restaurant is crowded with happy Friday night diners; the delicious headiness of frying onions and peppers, brisk steps of servers walking between tables, jubilant voices bubbling over one another. In the foyer, a woman in a smart apron stands at a portable bar smashing ripe avocado with a large mortar and pestle, right on the spot making guacamole. She scoops small portions of this deliciousness into cups, garnishes each with a fresh tortilla chip, and passes the delightful repast to waiting customers.

We have ordered, our drinks are arriving, and it’s time to wash hands. I stand, and my eldest hovers at my elbow. “You’re fine, you can do it,” I say cheerfully, and put a confident hand on his back. We split up into our separate restrooms and I am in and out quickly; hair standing on the back of my neck, a deep breath. Every journey into a public men’s room is fraught and I relentlessly muster a casual confidence I do not always feel. Every other diner in the place has no clue; they are chattering, lifting frosty drinks to mouths, forks busy. But a simple family dinner out is a little less simple for us, most of the time.

My sons speak the same language these days, back and forth, snickering over phone screens and sharing meme-speak. Nels came out as gay June 1st and it seems to have brought the two of them closer together. Their disagreements have matured, as well; and they argue rarely. A terse word here or there, and the other will usually back off. I can’t say there aren’t resentments here or there simmering beneath the surface, but mostly they get on like a house on fire.

Their temperaments are, as ever, the moon and the sun. Phoenix, the eldest, solicitous, more community-minded within the family. Nels, recently hooked in to a group of five teen boys who are passionately gaming and socializing together every waking hour, well Nels is a little flightier, a little more self-absorbed.

Astonishingly, my scheduled two-week break from work is almost up. Time is flying, of course. In spite of this I have enjoyed more time with the boys, more time reading barely-historical novels and watching creepy television, and more time for family projects – for instance, today, surprising Ralph on his birthday by having car speakers installed and scrubbing the kitchen floor.

I am continually amazed at how quickly those early child-rearing days flew. And it seems I receive so many reminders; as friends, old and new, have their own babies. I drank deeply of those early years, and they passed so quickly regardless. It’s easy to lose my head and rush off to more work and new things, but I know if I’m not very mindful this present reality will fly by, too.