1.30.2009

Kitchen Inspiration

*Image from House Beautiful


I love this kitchen posted on Stephmodo today. It shows some of the things you can do with a small space. I like the little island, and although I doubt I could give up on cabinet space, I do think the mirror is pretty cool.

Dirt Don't Hurt

I keep reading articles about how our ultra-clean society has led to an increase in asthma and other diseases. These articles make me feel better about my not-so-clean house. It certainly makes me feel better when I see the little boy eat something off the floor. Between my kitchen floor and day care, he's going to have the strongest immune system ever!

Here's another interesting article on the topic, from the NY Times

1.29.2009

Hugs, Warm Coats, and Fun TV Shows

A loves rinsing the dishes for me.

1. The little boy gave me a really big hug and said, "Hugs make you feel better?" Indeed they do. Hugs are fabulous.
2. This coat arrived a couple days ago, and it is warm and cozy and comfy. Exactly what is needed this week. I adore it!
3. The start of some new shows has revived an otherwise awful year of TV - 24, Damages, Friday Night Lights, and Lost are all keeping me very entertained.

Happy Pasta

This recipe came from one of my mom's cookbooks - can't remember which one. It's now just a card in my recipe box. We've titled it "Happy Pasta", because it is easy, tasty, and the first time we made it, I mentioned how I thought bow-tie pasta was one of the happiest types. I made it this week - it seemed like a good choice - and was reminded at how simple and tasty it is. It's also one of those recipes that can be used for experimentation. Use the base recipe, but then add whatever extras you want - I've added shrimp instead of proscuitto, thrown in some tomatoes...

Enjoy...and be happy!

3 tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups minced green onions, white and pale green parts
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup chicken/vegetable stock
2 tsp minced fresh tarragon (I often use 1 tsp of dried instead)
salt/pepper
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen green peas
1 lb dried farfalle (bow-tie pasta)
2 oz proscuitto di parma, finely minced
1/2 cup parmesan

Melt butter in skillet over medium heat. Add green onions, saute until softened, about 3 minutes. Add cream, stock, tarragon, and salt/pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and lower heat. Cook until reduced to a saucelike consistency. (The cheese will thicken it further.) Keep warm. Cook peas. Cook pasta (al delte). Add proscuitto to sauce just before pasta is done. Drain pasta, save a little water to thin sauce if necessary. Mix pasta with other ingredients. Serve immediately.

1.28.2009

Patagonia

Don't you just love a store with great customer service? Those companies that do the right thing, that have policies that make you want to stay a loyal customer? I remember the first time my sister returned a pair of worn sneakers to Nike, and she was so pleased to discover that they exchanged them without a problem. She has remained a loyal customer. I like how Banana Republic will give you the difference in price if an item you buy later goes on sale. The free shipping/free returns at Piperlime and Boden has me hooked.

My current story of good customer service is Patagonia. My husband recently returned a kayaking jacket he purchased from them at least 10 years ago. It was well worn and the material was coming apart, but he knew it had a lifetime warranty, so he returned it to see what they'd give him for it. They very promptly gave him a credit of the full cost to buy a replacement coat - $260! Now, my husband hasn't been kayaking very much lately and didn't really want a replacement, but he could use the credit for anything. Lucky for me, he let me use it! He knew I have been wanting a puffy coat just like this for years:

*Image from Patagonia


It arrived today, and I can't believe how long I waited. It is fabulous and so warm and so comfy.
Patagonia is definitely on my nice list.

This made me laugh out loud...

..and then thank the heavens that we have moved on to better days...

1.27.2009

Happy!

I've been having a bad week, so my blog has been neglected. Of course, it's during these times that I need to focus on the positive things in life even more. Well, here's some very big and very happy news that is helping me right now. I'm expecting my second baby in late June, and we just found out that it's a BOY! I'm very happy and excited that Aaron will have a younger brother, and I can't wait to meet him, especially after seeing the great ultrasound pictures of his long legs and big hands and strong heart.

1.21.2009

A Little Bit of Spring in a Long Winter


Inspired by this post, I decided to buy some flowers for myself. I let the little boy pick them out, and he chose these pretty and very fragrant purple hyacinth. I probably wouldn't have chosen them, so it's good that I left it up to him. This little splash of purple and the lovely scent I smell every time I walk through the dining room helped brighten up an otherwise dreary and snowy (yet again!) weekend.

Static Head


I sent these to a few family members yesterday, but since they make me smile every time I see them, I figured I'd post them here too. They are from a couple weekends ago - Kevin and Aaron built a fort in the living room, and the little boy kept standing up into the blanket, causing hilarious things to happen with his hair.

1.16.2009

Quote of the Day

"The most important thing she’d learned over the years was that there was no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one."
- Jill Churchill

Relaxi-Taxi

In honor of my brothers-in-law and husband, I have to post this little clip from Friends. It makes me giggle and think of the three of them on our couch, insisting that they couldn't come help with dinner or whatever because they were on the "relaxi-taxi". Cracks me up.



(Oh, and I love the spanish sub-titles too!)

1.15.2009

LOVE this pan!

*Image from Baker's Edge

Everyone loves the edge piece of brownies, right? Check out this pan, called the Edge Brownie pan - it only makes edge pieces! Fabulous!






1.14.2009

I Want This Job!


Some lucky person is going to get to spend six months doing this! Seriously! This is not a joke. The "job" is to live on Hamilton Island, one of the islands of the Great Barrier Reef. They will get the mail and other small tasks, but primarily they will spend time enjoying the surrounding islands. Kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, sailing....and then blogging about it! Can you imagine?

Here's the web site if you are feeling adventurous! Or if you're like me and you just want to gaze longingly at all the gorgeous pictures. It feels like 1 degree today with the wind chill, so I like looking at gorgeous beaches and sunshine.


*Pictures from here

1.13.2009

Recipes

A number of you have suggested that I should try to make it easier to find recipes on my blog. Sometimes you can't remember the name of a recipe to search for it, and now that I've accumulated a number of recipe posts, you'd have to scroll through quite a few previous entries to find a specific recipe.

I didn't want to clutter up the sides again with recipes, but I decided to create specific posts - by category - that capture some of my favorites. This should make it easier for you to find what you're looking for. (Of course, if all else fails, just ask me!)

The first link - Easy Weeknight Dinners - is available now in the right column. I'll add a few others (Special Occasions, Desserts, Breads/etc...) when I can.

Hope this helps!

1.12.2009

Awards Season

I am such a sucker for awards shows. I am not sure why - I'm not normally interested in Hollywood goings-on, but I love movies and I love (some) TV, and it is so fun to watch famous people get all dressed up. It's also sometimes fun to hear what they have to say. So I watched the Golden Globes when my basketball game was in time outs or commercial breaks. I was so happy to see Slumdog Millionaire and 30 Rock receive their awards.

Here were some of my favorites from the red carpet:


Not a huge fan of this bland color that everyone seemed to be wearing, but it actually looks good on Elizabeth, and I adore her hair!


Not sure what's going on with Cameron's hair, but I love the dress - the color is unique and absolutely perfect for her.


I'm not normally a fan of big bows, but this one works. The necklace looks gorgeous against the white, and Eva is just so beautiful.


Okay, there's nothing that particularly stands out about their outfits. I just adore Kate. And somewhere between Catch Me If You Can and Blood Diamond, Leo became a man. A really. sexy. man.

Wake-up Calls, Snow, and Yoga

This weekend's Three Beautiful Things:

1. I woke up Saturday morning to the sound of my two-year-old singing "I'm bringing home my baby bumblebee".

2. Yet another weekend snowfall meant shoveling to do on Sunday, but it also meant easy toddler entertainment, especially when the snowplow made an appearance.

3. I took advantage of naptime by doing a little yoga in my living room. It felt good and reminded me that I need to do it more often.

The Minimalist: Kitchen Essentials

*Image from the NY Times
I love this article from the NY Times. It's about stocking your kitchen and pantry with items that help you adhere to your goal of providing fresh and natural food to you and your family.

I learned that I am doing pretty well in some areas, but there are other things I could consider as well. I know some of the things I will rarely do, such as making my own broth or bread crumbs. Who has the time? But there are other ideas in here that I simply hadn't considered or didn't know. Who knew tomato paste comes in a tube? I have gotten better about freezing my leftover paste, but a tube would be great! And I'll give sherry vinegar a try.

Anyway, check it out and see if you come away with a couple ideas to take with you into this new year.

1.08.2009

List Update


In the spirit of the New Year, it's time for another list update:

1. Take more bubble baths (okay, so I've only taken two since I started this list, but that counts as 'more')
2. Go apple picking
3. Create photo book in time to give it to my husband for Christmas
4. Visit Barcelona to meet my new nephew (Going next month. Can't wait!)
5. Write letters to 3 friends (Christmas cards don't count!)
6. Sign up for a yoga class (this one may not happen, but I did do a couple yoga videos at home.)
7. Take a picture of all 3 of us for our holiday cards (The picture isn't the greatest, but I was able to include some other pictures in the card. And I must say - I got a ton of compliments on this year's cards. Definitely one of my faves.)
8. Organize our office desk at home
9. Get dressed up and go to the Holiday Pops with K (Had tickets and babysitter all lined up - Darn snowstorm prevented us from going. Booooooo.)
10. Get rid of my wedding dress (if no takers on Craig's List, then donate) (Update: Okay, now my sister and SIL insist that I give it to someone in the family instead. So family - any takers?)
11. Take the little boy to the library (This has become a favorite Saturday morning activity.)
12. Bake a yummy gift for the neighbors for the holidays
13. Make time to see old friends while home for Thanksgiving (Marking it off because the holiday is over, not because I actually followed through. I tried, though - really I did!)
14. Spiffy up my desk at the office - new family photos, new calendar, clean out files, etc.
15. Watch Fantasia again
16. Learn how to play a few new songs on the guitar (It's time to learn a couple more, though!)
17. Do some lessons in my Spanish instruction book - work towards doing one per week
18. See a movie in the theater, complete with popcorn and raisinets
19. Use my still-unused spa gift card and get a pedicure (Thanks, C! When do you want to go again?)
20. Host a brunch for some friends and little ones (This continues to be postponed due to our next phase of house renovations. It may not make the deadline, but I am determined to do it.)
21. Eat dinner at Blue Ginger, or maybe No. 9 Park if I'm really good (We had lunch at Blue Ginger, but I think we'll do dinner later this month.)
22. Go sledding with my boys (I need to figure out how to talk the little boy into wearing snow pants and boots first.)
23. Bake a pie from scratch
24. Surprise my husband with homemade chocolate pudding (I got the ramekins for Christmas, so I can do this soon.)
25. Organize my CDs (Will this ever actually happen?)
26. Get my hair colored at the salon
27. Organize drawers in the little boy's room (No idea what stops me from doing this one.)
28. Tickle the boy and giggle every day* (This one's so easy!)
29. Organize my recipe binder
30. Pick out window treatments for our new downstairs windows
31. Clean out nightstand drawers
32. Go to a museum
33. Do some sit-ups and push-ups and stretching while watching TV (But I was sore the next day, so obviously I need to keep it up!)
34. Carve a jack-o-lantern out of one of our home-grown pumpkins - let the little boy make a huge mess with the insides

1.07.2009

Christmas

I thought I'd share a few fun photos from our holiday. This post contains family shots - of course the little boy was the center of attention as usual.
*I just wanted to include this one, because I love his expression.
*The little boy, his grandma, two lovely aunties, and Pooh.

*Daddy, Aunt T, and the little boy saying "cheese!"
*A and his "Papa", reading books together.
*The little boy loved unwrapping presents, even the ones that weren't for him. Here he is helping his aunt and soon-to-be uncle.

1.06.2009

Chunky Vegetarian Chili

*Image from www.cookinglight.com


This Chunky Vegetarian Chili may be my new favorite chili. I've posted my standard go-to chili recipe (the easiest chili recipe ever!), and it's still very good, but seriously, I think this vegetarian version is just as easy and even tops it in taste.

The tablespoon of brown sugar gives it just a little bit of sweetness that blends so well with the usual chili spices. It still mostly uses pantry items - just need a couple peppers and onions. And it doesn't take long to make. Once you get it simmering in the pot, you have just enough time to tidy up and throw in a batch of corn bread.

Oh, and a bonus for all the moms out there: My son adores this chili! We ate it a couple nights ago, and he kept saying "Mmm! Nummy beans!"

This is now permanently in our dinner rotation. You should seriously think about adding it to yours.

1.05.2009

Slumdog Millionaire

We took advantage of our holiday vacation time to get to the movie theater. It felt very freeing, sipping an orange Fanta and watching a movie with a crowd. (Since the little boy was born, I can count the number of movies I've seen in the theater on one hand.)

We saw Slumdog Millionaire. If it's playing in your area, I highly recommend it. There were a couple other movies I wouldn't have minded seeing, but I'm very happy we chose this one. Tragic and extremely brutal at times, it is ultimately uplifting, and we left the movie with smiles on our faces.

1.01.2009

New Family Tradition?


Happy New Year!

For several years when I was young, my family had a tradition of eating chocolate chip pancakes on Christmas morning. (After opening presents, of course. People who can wait until after breakfast to open presents amaze me.) Anyway, we had fun making silly faces out of the chocolate chips, whipped cream, maybe some fruit like bananas...and I loved this tradition while it lasted. At some point, we realized that having a big breakfast ruined our appetites for all the other yummy food we wanted to eat on Christmas day, so the tradition stopped.

I think I'd like to resurrect it, though, with a small update: New Year's Day instead of Christmas. We had chocolate chip pancakes - complete with whipped cream and sprinkles - this morning, and it was divine. Of course the little boy loved it, and I must say, I loved it too. So perhaps this is the re-start of a family tradition.
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