3.31.2010

Flowers and Sunny Days to Come

A: "Mom, the yard is flooded AGAIN! Can you believe it?"
Me: "Yep, Hon, the flood is back, and no, I can't believe it."
A: "Are the firefighters going to come back?"
Me: "I hope not."
A: "The rain will stop, though, right?"
Me: "I certainly hope so."
A: "It will, Mommy. Don't worry. The rain will stop and the water will go away and it will get sunny and then we can stay home and play outside. Kay?"
Me: "Sounds perfect, Sweetie. You're awesome. Thanks."


Just a few flower photos as a reminder that flowers and sunny days are on their way...





Bread

*Image from Cooking Light

I love bread, and I love finding ways to keep my 3-year-old entertained, especially on cold and wet weekend days. This Winter, we began a weekend ritual of baking something together. He loves helping me. We both put on our aprons, get out all the ingredients, and he gets to measure everything out into the bowls, crack eggs, and stir. It's fun, it makes the house smell yummy, and as an added bonus, we end up with a bread or muffins that provide us with breakfast for the week! Here are a few of the recipes we've enjoyed over the past few months:

Garden Harvest Cake - This is probably our favorite. It's sweet and very moist. It's an easy recipe to tinker with - add more walnuts, or raisins, sub a little applesauce for the oil, add a little bran, use wheat flour... We've tried different variations, but it's super yummy as it's written. AMW loves that it is sweet and yummy and that he gets to see me grate up a carrot, zucchini, and apple. I love that it gets more veggies into his belly.

Banana Oatmeal Bread - I love the addition of oatmeal. I've also been trying to incorporate more wheat flour into my baking, mostly doing half and half. If you're feeling like it, add some chocolate chips.

Pumpkin Bread - We've tried a few pumpkin bread recipes. AMW loves pumpkin bread. This is our current favorite, but I'm still searching for the one that will stay in my recipe file for years. Do you have one you'd like to share?

3.30.2010

Organizing Tip: Freezing Stock

*Image from Martha Stewart

Another Martha tip worth sharing...

How many times do you make a recipe calling for stock and then you have half a can left afterwards? I used to put it in the fridge and try to make something else with it before it went bad, but I've started getting better about freezing it. I prefer using ice cube trays instead of muffin tins, but either will work. Just pour it into a tray, freeze it, and then store the frozen portions in a tupperware or resealable plastic bag. It'll keep for a couple months this way, and you'll always have just the right amount! If you keep the supplies handy (extra trays, sharpie, masking tape...), it's pretty easy to do.

Etsy Pick: Speechless Studios


What is it with me and bowls? You'd think I'd have a million bowls for how much I love looking at them. I think these Wobble Bowls from Speechless Studios are awesome - cute, fun, and unique. Cool colors too. I think I need to invent more entertaining opportunities, so I have a reason to get lots and lots of neat bowls.

3.28.2010

Menu of the Week

*Image from Cooking Light

Here's a look at what I'm cooking this week. Inspired by what is hopefully one of the last cold weekends. It felt like a good Sunday to roast a chicken. And then of course you need a follow-up recipe to use some of the leftover meat - quesadillas are a good option. The ragout is really yummy and super easy, especially if you like kale. And if you have little ones, you can pull out what they will eat - Aaron will eat sausage and beans, and he even ate a little zucchini.

Roast Chicken with Potatoes, Onions, Mushrooms, Corn
Mustard-Maple Salmon, Rice, Zucchini
Turkey Reubens, Veggie Chips

3.26.2010

Five Senses Friday


I haven't done one of these in a while, and I miss them. They are a fun way of reflecting on the week.

See
- Daffodils starting to bloom, and tulips peeking out of the ground
- Pink tulips on my dining room table. I couldn't wait for the ones in my yard to bloom, so I had to buy some to pretty up the house.
- Sun! So great to be able to play outside after the week of torrential rain we had. A and I went out to blow some bubbles, and slide, and kick balls, and ride bikes...

Hear
- Geese honking as they fly over us
- A and N giggling at each other. Probably the best sound in the world.
- A singing "M.T.A" out loud in the car. He makes up half the words, and it's fabulous.

Taste
- Asparagus - The really fresh stuff isn't quite here, but it's getting closer. We'll probably have asparagus every week for the next month or so. And A has decided it's "not bad"!
- Homemade blueberry muffins
- B&J's New York Super Fudge Chunk. A classic.

Smell
- Strawberry toothpaste. After many taste tests, it has been determined that they simply do not make a mint-flavored toothpaste that is gentle enough for kids. So, strawberry it is.
- Capri Blue jar candle from Anthropologie. A splurge to myself, because I decided I deserved to have a nice-smelling home, and I can't bake all the time.

Touch
- A kiss good-bye from K as he heads to work
- Soft, warm cheeks of my boys
- Cool, clean sheets at the end of the day

Happy Birthday to Me!

*Disneyworld was a great place to celebrate turning 30!

Today is my birthday. This is my 36th! Wow. I don't think it really hit me until I just typed that. 36. That's the upper 30s. That's what I used to call old. Of course, now that I'm here I don't think it's old at all.  Strange.  I don't feel like I should be 36.  Maybe because I have a bunch of younger friends.  Maybe because my kids are so little. Maybe because I'm still smokin' hot. Okay, maybe not that, but I don't feel 36.  Actually, it took a monumental effort to get out of bed this morning, so maybe I do feel 36 sometimes. And the wrinkles around my eyes give me away.

Birthdays aren't really big deals to me, but a few of them stand out. I think the first birthday party I remember was my 6th or 7th. It was a party at home with all of my friends from school. I just remember playing outside, and although it was late March in upstate New York, I don't remember it being cold. I remember several years in a row of getting big cookies. You know those big cookies you could get at the mall? Yeah, that was my birthday "cake" for a while.

My 21st birthday was awesome. UNC beat Kentucky to make it to the Final Four. We watched the game in my dorm room, and then headed out at midnight, when I was legally old enough to get into the bars. My friends had arranged for a stripper to strip for me at an extremely crowded bar on Franklin Street (Chapel Hill, NC). He was a cowboy. I rode him. Good times.

My 30th birthday was awesome as well, and I think it might be my favorite birthday so far. My husband arranged for us to have dinner at my favorite restaurant in Boston. We arrived, sat at the table, and were then joined by my sisters, who had flown in to surprise me! We enjoyed a fabulous meal and then went out for champagne. Oh! And I almost forgot going to the spa the following day! The birthday celebration was extended further with a trip to Disneyworld with my best friend, who turned 30 a few months earlier. Just the two of us. Nice weather. Short lines. And I finally got to take a picture with Dopey. It was perfect.

36 will be good too. We don't have anything big planned. But that's okay. Time at home with my boys is good, and I have a few boxes to open. Think I'll get a good bottle of wine. I'm splurging on a spa pedicure tomorrow. I need pretty toes for my upcoming trip to Puerto Rico. Life is good.


3.25.2010

Laura Marling - "Devil's Spoke"


This week's music pick: Laura Marling. Check out her website for more music and official videos. She's been around for a few years now - her second full album has just been released - but I'm just now discovering her, and I'm enjoying getting to know her music. She's young, from Britain, and has a very strong voice. I've seen her compared to Regina Spektor, Lily Allen, and note folk influences such as Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan. She's unique, though - check her out.

Update:  The more I listen to Laura Marling, the more I love her.  Go listen now.  Seriously.  Definitely one of my favorite albums of the year.

3.24.2010

Where, When, How, What?



Erin at Perfect Sentiment had a blog post this morning about the hows and whys of blogging. I've explained the why before, but I thought I'd play along...

Where do I blog?
Mostly, it's in the office at home. I adore this space since we finally got it renovated, and especially since we invested in a Mac.

When do I blog?
Like Erin, I typically hop on for a few minutes right after the boys go to bed. That little energy spurt is usually when I throw out a few posts. Sometimes I'll do a few at once and schedule them out over a few days. I do this a couple times a week, especially when my husband is working late.

What is my blog?
It's my happy place. A place where I focus on the positives. That's my only rule: no negativity. I post recipes, pretty pictures, fun and random things, music, family pictures, and any other little thing that I happen to stumble across that makes me happy.

How do I go about it?
I don't have a system. It's pretty random. But I do have a few reoccurring topics: menus and recipes, three beautiful things, five senses posts, and I used to focus quite a bit on organizing, although that's tapered off recently. I probably need to reenergize my efforts there. With two little ones, and with my only regular readers being long-distance family and friends, I also post a lot of kid photos. I'll post quotes, music, books, movies, pretty house/interior pictures, etsy finds, and whatever else I may be thinking about that day. I'm a working mom with two small kids, so the topic of balance is often on my mind - sometimes it makes the blog too.

Milestones

Did I mention that the little guy is crawling? He started moving forward a few weeks ago, and he's really moving now. He follows me around the house, just waiting to smile every time I look at him. What a love. And no, I cannot take a picture of him without the drool on his chin. It's always there!

Ingrid and Casablanca

Isn't Ingrid Bergman fantastic? She's almost unbelievably glamorous. And although I had never noticed it before, the top-left picture makes me realize that my mom has quite a bit of Ingrid in her. I always knew my mom was gorgeous of course, but I had never seen the resemblance. I wish I had an old picture of my mom that I could share, but I don't, so just trust me when I tell you this.

What brought up Ingrid anyway? I watched Casablanca again recently. You really can't watch that movie too many times. It pulls me in every time, and it makes me giggle and feel romantic.

*Images from various online sources. Sorry, can't remember!

3.23.2010

In case you hadn't noticed, I'm back.

I was gone for a bit due to the usual stuff of life that sometimes gets in the way of my blogging. I won't post the uglyness here, but suffice it to say that it increased my motivation to book a family trip to find some sunshine. We head to Puerto Rico in just a couple weeks! Spontaneity is a good thing. So anyway, sorry for my absence. I am trying to get back into the swing of things now. It's good to see you.

I realized that I've been so slack on taking pictures lately, and I still haven't bought a new video camera. Maybe the vacation will motivate me there too. I have so much cuteness in my life that needs to be documented! This picture was taken last night - after dinner, of course. The two of them were laughing and playing on the kitchen floor. Can you see the remnants of butternut squash & corn on the little guy, and pasta sauce and apple residue on the big guy? Despite the messy faces, or maybe because of them, I love this picture.

Etsy Pick: Goat Cards


My latest Etsy Pick? Goat Cards. I stumbled across this shop and found myself laughing out loud at the cards adorned with 30 Rock quotes. I adore 30 Rock, and some of the quotes are so spectacularly random that you simply can't help but laugh. I can think of a bunch of others that would make great cards, so hopefully this little shop will expand their collection. The rest of the cards in their shop are pretty funny too. What fun it would be to receive a silly card in the mail!


*Images from Goat Cards

3.22.2010

Life


*Image from Discovery Channel


In case you haven't already heard, The Discovery Channel just started a new series, Life. It's an 11-part series that started last night. I'm sure it will be aired quite a bit, so add it to your DVR and check it out. I'm sure it will be as awe-inspiring as Planet Earth was.

This Week's Menu


*Image from Cooking Light

Spicy Chicken Cakes with Horseradish Aioli, Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Asparagus
Pasta Bolognese, Multigrain Bread

Turkey, Brie, and Green Apple Sandwiches
Baked haddock over potatoes and onions, Green Beans

3.11.2010

The Help - by Kathryn Stockett


I just finished "The Help", by Kathryn Stockett. It's written in the voices of three women in Jackson, Mississippi, who work together to write a book about what it's like to be a maid working for white families. It is set in 1963. It's wonderfully written, and I fell in love with the characters and stayed up way too late reading. Have you read it yet? A lot of people I know already have. If you haven't, then please add it to your reading list.

3.10.2010

Forts, Sunny Skies, and Clean Sheets

This week's Three Beautiful Things:

1. When you need a way to keep your crazy kid occupied inside, tell him he can take the cushions off the couch. Aaron played happily for a couple hours, building forts and caves and mostly just jumping and rolling around.

2. Being able to play outside. I can see glimpses of Spring. There is no more snow on the ground. We could stay outside and play for an entire morning without mittens. It's a beautiful thing.

3. I adore the feeling of crisp, clean sheets. Especially when you're tired, it's so nice to climb into a freshly-made bed.


*Note the soaking wet bib. He doesn't have a single tooth yet, but he drools buckets.


3.09.2010

Cupcake Kits


How awesome are these cupcake kits? I am definitely bookmarking these for future birthdays.



3.08.2010

Oscar Pretty

Rachel McAdams - Easily my favorite dress of the night. So flowy - it looks like it would be fun to wear. It always helps when I like the actress, too.


Yes, I still love the Oscars. Even though I don't see many movies these days. I have managed to see a couple of the contenders this year, but most I haven't seen yet. But I still love the pretty dresses and sappy speeches. Call me crazy. Here are a couple of my favorite dresses from the red carpet.

Images from here.


Christopher Plummer and Helen Mirren - I want to look like her when I grow up.


Anna Kendrick - Not normally a fan of such a bland color, but this is elegant and so pretty.

Sandra Bullock - Flawless.

3.05.2010

Ways to Make Your Life More Simple


I like this post from onsimplicity.net. It includes a list of ways to keep your life more simple. Here are some of the things I've done to keep things simple in my own life:

1. Stick to black. I don't wear brown. Buying brown clothes, particularly work clothes, would require buying brown shoes and brown belts.... Instead, I have a couple pairs of decent black work shoes, and I buy corresponding outfits accordingly. Boring, I know, but it works for me.

2. Ask for help. I finally broke down and hired a cleaner. She comes twice a month, allowing me to focus my time on more important things.

3. Automatic billpay. Everything. I write about two checks a month - only when automatic billpay isn't an option.

4. Menu planning. I do this each weekend, in preparation for the coming week. I can't tell you how much it reduces the stress of dinnertime during the week. It also makes the grocery shopping trip more focused and efficient. Anytime I neglect to do this, I regret it.

5. End each day with a good book. It's just a nice and relaxing and quiet way to end each crazy day.

There are lots of other things I could include here, and that list provides some other good ideas.

If I could take one more simple idea away from it, it would be "clean out your media collection and keep only the items you love". My iTunes has a bunch of music on it that I really don't love any more, and I have a bin of old CDs that I just haven't been able to bring myself to get rid of. I should, though. Focus on the best of the best. Maybe I'll start that this weekend.

What's one more thing you could do to simplify your own life?

*Images from here. They have nothing to do with the post. I just think it's a beautiful house.

3.04.2010

Bright Eyes



This song came on my iPod shuffle the other night, and I was reminded how much I love it. The video makes me smile. Watch it, smile, and be happy.
image via last.fm

3.03.2010

Super Duper Mama, Sleep, and Signs of Spring


*I love that my boys crack each other up.

This week's Three Beautiful Things:

1. Aaron was trying to get my attention. He yelled "Mama! Mama!" And then...."Super Duper Mama!" That one got my attention. I hope it sticks.

2. A full night's sleep. SUCH a beautiful thing. (I know I talk about sleep a lot. But really. Sleep is soooooo good.)

3. Tulips, asparagus, strawberries and rain. More signs that Spring is on its way.


*What can I say? Handsome boy with a bowl on his head.

3.01.2010

See You in Sochi


Well, the 2010 Olympics are over. What was your favorite part? I love the Olympics, and although I watched the prime-time coverage most nights, I still feel like I missed so much. I didn't even get to watch curling! (You laugh, but I really do find it fascinating.) I did see a lot, though, and it's hard to pick a favorite moment.

I was so excited to see Julia Mancuso and Lindsey Vonn win their medals, and I was equally bummed to watch their struggles in the later races and the media coverage of their lack of friendship. (They're teammates and competitors - who says they have to love each other? They respect each other, and that should be enough.) I loved watching the snowboard competitions. It's hard to believe, but I remember when the Olympics didn't even include snowboarding. It's infinitely more fun now. Shaun White is incredible. Torah Bright is so cute, and I loved that everyone seemed genuinely excited for her, even her competitors. How the heck did Seth Wescott win that race? My jaw dropped watching him. Kim Yu-Na was elegant and beautiful, and I was entranced by her skating. She reminded me a little of Michelle Kwan, who I also really liked watching. Joannnie Rochette made me cry. I am so sad and so happy for her at the same time. Rachael Flatt was so excited to be there, and she did an amazing job. What was the name of that ski cross guy? From Colorado? I don't even remember his name, because he didn't win, but I loved rooting for him anyway. He went for it at the end and fell on the final jump, resulting in a fourth place finish. But I love that he went all out. I like watching Apolo Ohno and the speed skating events, but I really loved rooting for J.R. Celski - I love watching the young ones, especially those who seem so excited just to be there, representing their country and their sport. Of course there were lots and lots of other great sports - I even enjoy watching the cross-country skiing and ski cross and ski jumping. Aerials is stunning.

I was bummed to miss most of the men's hockey final - I watched some of the overtime period. What a classic. Of course I was rooting for USA, but I was secretly really pleased that Canada won. What a fabulous way to end their Winter Games.

With tons of classic moments, I think Hannah Kearney's Gold medal in the moguls was my favorite. I was off my chair for that one.

Which event had you screaming at the TV?

*Images from NY Times
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