10.31.2008

You gotta love Tim Burton...


Happy Halloween!

10.30.2008

Keep Calm and Carry On


I have seen these prints several times in the last few months, and every time I think I'd like to have a couple. If I had an office at work, this is what I'd have on my walls. Perhaps our home office deserves one or two once we get it in good enough shape to decorate.

I especially love the sentiment of "Keep Calm and Carry on", not thinking about its original context, of course. I've always been told that one of my strengths is that I never panic when issues arise. My instinct has always been to define the problem, put together a plan to resolve it, and then go get it done. Freaking out doesn't seem to accomplish much. Especially at work, recognizing - let's be honest here - there are many more important things in life.

I Love Boston #6: Clam Chowder

*Image from Legal Seafoods

Reason #6 Why I Love Boston: Clam Chowder
As our temperatures continue to drop, and our days get shorter, our need for warm comfort food increases. So, too, does my need to focus on the reasons why I love living here despite those short, cold days.
So bring on the chowder! I can't believe there are people out there who think clam chowder should be tomato-based. Really? I mean, I love New York and all, but come on? Chowder is white and creamy, thank you very much.
I've never made this at home, but I haven't needed to - almost every restaurant you go to around Boston offers a good chowder. Here's a list of some of the best. Legal Seafoods is the one you might've heard of - it's the most famous, anyway - but there are lots of good places. If you're visiting Boston, I'd suggest either the Union Oyster House or The Barking Crab. The Barking Crab is a fun place - shared picnic tables and lots of napkins for the mess you'll inevitably make. Skipjack's is another solid restaurant - just as good as Legal, but a little less expensive.
If you don't live in New England, you can still enjoy a good warm soup. Here's the recipe for Skipjack's clam chowder. Now that I know how easy it is, I might just have to make some at home.
I Love Boston RECAP:
#1: Apple picking
#2: The New England Aquarium
#3: New England Micro-brews
#4: The Red Sox / Fenway Park
#5: Head of the Charles

10.29.2008

Five Senses Weekend

*Seriously. This cake smells gooooood. Image from Cooking Light

See
- The latest episode of Heroes - I love entertaining TV shows that take you completely out of reality
- Several episodes of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report - these are based in reality, but at least they make me laugh along the way

Hear
- The little boy singing a medley of "Where is Thumbkin?", "ABCs", and "Baa Baa Black Sheep"
- Geese honking as they flew overhead (and of course the little boy pointing and yelling "geese!")

Touch
- The little boy and I went grocery shopping on Saturday morning. He likes to inspect everything that goes in the cart, but he especially loves the produce section. He can name almost everything now. We felt "smooth" pears, "wet" kale, and "sticky" cantaloupe. (Actually, it was his hands that were sticky. The cantaloupe was pre-chopped, and he opened the container to eat almost the entire thing during the trip!)
- Scratchy leaves tickled our necks as we got out of a big leaf pile

Smell
- This wonderful Autumn Apple Cake filled the house with a wonderful smell!
- Wet leaves the morning after an evening thunderstorm

Taste
- My usual decaf latte helps warm me up on these now very cool mornings
- We had a few banana pancakes along with the usual blueberry version on Sunday morning. Yum!
*A loves running around in the leaves!

Kid's Wall Art



I'm on the lookout for something to decorate the little boy's walls once he moves out of his crib and graduates to a big boy's room. I like this one from LafficheModerne, although the shipping costs probably put it out of reach.

I think what I really want, though, is just a pair of prints. Preferably red, I think. (Light blue walls.) A fire truck would be greatly admired by the little boy. Let me know if you see anything perfect.

10.28.2008

Carving Pumpkins

Okay, so he didn't "make a huge mess with the insides" (#34 on the list); actually, he wasn't as interested in the carving process as much as the final results. We did have fun carving our pumpkins, though. We stayed very traditional with the designs, but I think they turned out pretty cute. The little boy loves pulling off the tops and peeking inside. He kept touching the inside and saying "ooooo, goooey".

I hope everyone has a happy and fun Halloween!

Have I Ever Mentioned that Green is My Favorite Color?

*Image from Pretty Raccoon

Well, it is. And I think this gorgeous green scarf may have to go on the Solstice list.

10.27.2008

Apple Recipes



Ah, Fall. We moved seamlessly from our bounty of tomatoes to the season of apples, and since our apple-picking excursion a few weeks ago, I've been enjoying baking every weekend. I thought I'd share a few of the recipes we've enjoyed so far.

Apple Pie - I've tried a number of different recipes, and so far, this one is my favorite. I still think perhaps this is an A and there's an A+ out there, though.
Apple-Cinnamon Coffee Cake - Super easy cake that makes super easy and super yummy breakfasts

Autumn Apple Cake - This made our house smell divine. My husband said they should make a candle with this scent so it could smell like that all the time. Oh, and it tastes awesome too. Light, fluffy cake with apples, raisins, and walnuts. Mmmm.

Apple Turnovers (Chaussons Aux Pommes) - I read an article by Molly Wizenberger (of Orangette fame) in last month's issue of Bon Appetit that made me daydream about sitting in a cafe in Paris, drinking coffee and eating a chausson aux pommes. So really, I had no choice but to make these. They're in the oven as I type, so I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that they only serve to enhance the daydream.
Speaking of Orangette, I really want to try her recipe for apple and butternut squash soup. Perhaps that will go on our Thanksgiving menu. I think we'll probably use up our apples this week.

10.24.2008

Kitchen Inspiration

I want a pantry-turned-workstation like this one...


*Images from www.thisoldhouse.com

Amos Lee - Colors

I only recently started listening to Amos Lee, and I'm really enjoying getting to know his music. I hope you all have a fabulous weekend!

10.23.2008

Whack O'Lantern

I noticed this idea in the latest issue of Wondertime. We'll probably still go the traditional route this year, but it could be fun to let your kids whack away at a pumpkin. I like the idea of drawing an outline and then following it with the golf tees. You could do just about any kind of decoration that way. The random approach shown in this picture is nice and subtle, though.
*Image from Wondertime

Chalkboard Wall Decal

*Image from See Jane Work
I love this chalkboard wall decal from See Jane Work. I need to find a place to put this in my house. Maybe when I get a new kitchen...

Another Drawer

Okay, it's been a while since I tackled an organizing project. In the Summer, I just wanted to play outside. Now that it's getting colder, I'm spending more time indoors, and my messy drawers are getting on my nerves again. So it's time to do another drawer. I cleaned out the drawers in our nightstands this weekend, which felt great, and now I'm motivated again to do more.


"The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak." — Hans Hofmann

My little boy got a fever recently, and when I tried to find his thermometer, I unsuccessfully rummaged through his drawers and the medicine cabinet in his bathroom. This is how I identified my next organizing project. I use his dresser as a changing table as well, and a couple of the top drawers contain diapers and wipes. Unfortunately, the wipes drawer now also contains everything from tylenol to lotion to his toothbrush. Something must be done.

Do you have a drawer that needs organizing?

*No wonder I can't find anything! This drawer is next on the list to organize.

10.22.2008

Caterpillars, Beds, and Singing

This week's Three Beautiful Things:

1. The little boy and I watched a caterpillar ("paterpeer") crawl through the grass. I love how children remind us to focus on the small and beautiful things all around.

2. My bed is perfect. It's comfortable and warm, and I so wish I could spend more time in it. I love the minutes just after waking up, before I really must get out of bed.

3. I sang at the top of my lungs on the way to work. I know a few people in passing cars noticed, but I don't care.

10.21.2008

I Love This Tree


We have a gorgeous maple tree in our yard. It is especially gorgeous this year - its leaves are going through a beautiful spectrum from green to yellow to orange to red. This tree makes me happy. I can admire it from my kitchen window. I love watching the leaves "rain" down on the yard, even though it means lots and lots of raking. I actually kinda like raking, too - it's good exercise and gives everyone a great excuse to run around and play in leaf piles.

Ah, Fall. Can't you stay forever?

How Cute is This?

*Image from Amazon

If we didn't already have two plain old boring ones, I would totally buy this Adorable Humidifier!

10.20.2008

I Love Boston #5 - Head of the Charles

Reason #5 Why I Love Boston: Head of the Charles
Every year in Cambridge, the world's largest two-day rowing event is held. It's called the Head of the Charles. I know nothing about rowing except that it is a graceful and extremely strenuous sport. I love watching the races, even though I never know what's going on or who I'm rooting for. I'm in awe of the beauty and skill in the competition. Throw in live music, food vendors, artists, and tons of people picnicking by the river, and you have a very nice way to spend a Fall day.

*Enjoying apple cider and watching the race. I think I can live with the colder weather if it means looking at this cutie in his warm coat and hat!



When is UNC's First Game?


Okay, fine. Baseball season is over. When does college basketball start? First game is Nov 15th. I can survive until then.

10.17.2008

Pumpkin Fest!

*Photos from PumpkinFestival.org

Every year in Keene, NH the town holds a Pumpkin Festival. Their goal is to break the world record for the number of lit jack-o-lanterns in one place. They held the record for many years, until Boston beat them last year.

Now, I love Boston - you all know that - but Keene is the true home of the "Pumpkin Fest", and it only seems right that the record stay there. I've heard rumors that the Boston event actually gave pumpkins away in order to inflate their numbers! That's not right. In Keene, everyone who comes brings one or two (or quite a few!) carved pumpkins with them.

I've been to the Keene festival a couple times, and I haven't been to the Boston one, so perhaps I'm biased. But I love the festival being held in a small town in New England - it just feels more authentic and not quite as crazy. Whatever town you live in, you should try to go to a Pumpkin Festival sometime. Try to break the record. It's not as easy as it sounds. But it sure is fun to see all those scary and silly pumpkins lit up!

Unbelievable!

*Picture from www.boston.com
The Red Sox won! I can't believe I went to bed before this game was over. I was so tired, but of course I should've stayed up anyway. Sigh. That's okay. I'll console myself by looking at pictures of grown men jumping all over each other like little kids. Baseball makes me so happy.

Foo Fighters - My Hero



I don't really condone chewing gum while singing, but since it's Dave Grohl, I'll forgive him. Happy weekend everyone!

Online Addiction



...for the little ones. My almost 2-year old is addicted to the computer. The problem is, there's so much fun stuff out there! Sesame Street has a great site, and they have tons of games and videos (including old-school ones from my days of watching). A's current faves are the ones depicted above: India Arie singing ABCs, ABC Hip-Hop, and C is for Cookie.

Starfall.com is another great site for the kiddos. A was pretty addicted to the ABCs on this site, and I think he knows all the pictures by heart at this point.

I don't really want him staring at a screen all the time, and I certainly get tired of playing the same videos over and over and over again. That said, we only watch a few minutes here and there, and the videos are fun and educational. I think I'll appreciate these even more as he gets a little older. In the meantime, I won't mind having "C is for Cookie" stuck in my head like it is today.

10.16.2008

Fall Colors


Apartment Therapy and CB2 are having a Fall Colors Contest. The objective is to find the "most colorful, most beautiful home on the planet". I'm having fun looking through all the beautiful homes. I am drawn to homes with lots of warm colors, as a lot of these have.

Meg & Dave's "Pale Smoke" is one of my favorites so far. The colors are warm, and the place looks comfortable - a nice place to come home to.

These other pictures are from my friend S over at Portland Sunshine. She totally needs to enter this contest, because she has done amazing things with color as they've remodeled their house. (SKF, let me know when you've entered so I can go vote for you!)




Autumn Leaves, Good Mornings, and Helpful Husbands


I've been kinda cranky this week. I'm really tired, and I've been letting little things get to me. All the more reason to focus on the beautiful things...

This week's Three Beautiful Things:

1. The vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows of Fall are everywhere. Fallen leaves not only smell great, but raking them is great exercise, and running through them laughing is one of Aaron's favorite activities.

2. I picked Aaron up from his crib, and he said, "Hi Mommy, good morning Mommy, how are you?" And then he wrapped his arms around my neck.

3. Kev had Columbus Day off, but I didn't. Although I'll admit that made me cranky, I did notice that he took the trash/recycling out and did the dishes in addition to taking care of The Boy.

10.15.2008

15 Great Books for Toddler Boys

*Reading...what a great excuse to cuddle!

This isn't intended to be a complete "best of" list. There are so many fabulous kid's books. I often read them and think that while the concepts of many of them are simple, I am amazed by the author and illustrators' abilities to capture the imaginations of children. I just thought I'd share a list of my little boy's current favorites:

1. Good Night, Gorilla ("no-night goriya")
2. Cars ("lightning queen")
3. Go, Train, Go!("choo-choo frain")
4. Are you my Mother? ("fine my mother")
5. Little Pea ("pea")
6. The Very Lonely Firefly ("futterfie")
7. The Grouchy Ladybug ("ladybug")
8. Tumble Bumble ("pumble bumble", "fumble pumble"...)
9. Dooby Dooby Moo ("finkle finkle" - the cows singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star is the highlight for my little dude)
10. There's a Wocket in my Pocket ("Pocket in the Pocket")
11. Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? ("moo book")
12. Moo, Baa, La La La ("moo baa lalalalala")
13. Counting Cows ("cow book")
14. Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? ("polar bear" - he loves all these. Brown bear, Panda Bear...)
15. Lost and Found ("pengin book" - it features a penguin, one of my little boy's favorites)

A has many other favorites, including a large paperback book of 1000 Spanish words (shown above) - tons of pictures that he loves to point and name (in English), Goodnight Moon of course...and many more. That said, we read lots of books every day, and I don't think you can have too many books. I'd love to put a few ideas on his Christmas list so we can let family members expand his collection.
What are your favorite books for toddler boys?

*I think I liked storytime more than he did in those early days, but hey, you can't start too early!

The Seasonal Clothes Switch

What a pain! But unless you have a gigantic walk-in closet that can hold all of your clothes (lucky you), then you're like the rest of us that need to switch things out twice a year. I just completed my Fall rotation, so my sweaters and wool pants are neatly in the closet, and my shorts and tank tops are in a storage bin in an extra closet. Have you done yours yet?

Key tips for making the switch:
1. Fold, don't hang, your clothes. If you do hang them, don't use wire hangers, because they will stretch out or warp your clothes.
2. Store in a cool, dry place. Not the attic or basement. The guest room closet or under the bed are good places.
3. Empty pockets and clean the clothes. I've lost sunglasses and quite a bit of money by neglecting to do this. (Of course, it can be fun to find them again the following summer, but not if you find them after you've already bought another pair of sunglasses!)
4. Remove dry-cleaning bags. You may think that storing the clothes in the bags somehow protects your clothes, but it's actually bad for them. The fabric can't breathe, and you could end up with moldy clothes. I've gotten into the habit of taking clothes out of the bags as soon as we bring them home.

There are some other good tips for performing the seasonal clothes rotation at Real Simple.


*If you have a closet like this, then....well first of all, lucky you, and second of all, you may not need to do the seasonal switch. Image from Closet Tailors.

10.14.2008

This Week's Menu

*Image from Cooking Light
Butternut Squash Risotto
Spinach
Parmesan Tomatoes (*Easiest side dish ever! Cut tomatoes in half, sprinkle with garlic powder, oregano, and parmesan. Put on tray in toaster oven at 400 or so until tops brown.)


Panko-Encrusted Fish Sticks
Salad
Rice

Spaghetti and Meatballs
Salad
Breadsticks

Pumpkins!


Our other Saturday activity was to pick our pumpkins. This year, we picked them from our very own little pumpkin patch in the yard, which was very fun. We grew 5 pumpkins, the largest of which will be perfect to carve. The little boy had to carry each of them to his wagon ("I self"), and we brought them to the front of the house where they now decorate our front porch.

Another hooray for Fall!




10.13.2008

Apple Picking


We had the most fabulous weekend. The weather was perfect - high 60s and clear blue skies. The foliage is at its peak, so the trees are amazing reds and oranges and yellows. Everybody was out enjoying the beautiful days.

Check #2 off the list! Saturday morning's activity was apple-picking. I've gone apple-picking every year I've lived in Boston, but the farm I always went to has turned into a theme park. It has become ridiculously expensive, and you're forced to pay for a train ride out to the orchard - an entrance fee before you even pay anything for your apples! The prices skyrocketed again last year, and we vowed never to go back. That's not what "pick your own" means to me. So this year we did some research to find other farms in the area. We found several. The one we went to was only 15 minutes from our house, and it was exactly what I was looking for. There's nothing there except a farm stand with the usual farmer's market goodies. When you drive out to the orchard, there's nothing except a small stand to buy your bags. So we bought our bags and walked out to the trees. Perfect!

The little boy had fun, and he ate several apples throughout the morning. There's not much better in this world than eating a super-juicy red apple straight from the tree!





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