7.30.2010

Frazey Ford - Firecracker


Frazey Ford's solo debut album just came out, and I'm loving it.  In the video above, she performs her first single, entitled "Firecracker".  My favorite song on the album, though, is called "Blue Streak Mama".  "Bird of Paradise" is great too.  Please give it a listen.

Frazey Ford  was part of a band called The Be Good Tanyas, which is fabulous as well.  They are described as having roots in bluegrass and Americana.  Frazey's solo album does not stray too far from this sound, but it definitely has more of a blues and soul feel to it.  It's wonderful.

7.29.2010

Things I've Learned


This is by no means a comprehensive list.  I expect I'll do a post like this every now and then to capture some of the things I've learned so far in my life.  The big and the little.  The serious and the silly.  Here are ten:
  1. Being optimistic is way more fun than being pessimistic
  2. Flip-flops are comfortable, as long as you avoid the super cheap ones
  3. Being happy truly is a choice, and it must be made every day
  4. Frozen blueberries or popsicles are a good way to treat a toddler's fat lip
  5. I must have a few moments of silence every day, or super-cranky Mary appears (and she is not very nice).  Sleep helps too, but alone-time is even more important.
  6. Smiling and looking people in the eye are nice habits to have
  7. It's worth spending 10 seconds to make the bed every morning
  8. Always get a reference before hiring an HVAC company (same goes for plumbers, electricians, and other repairmen)
  9. It's easier to manage laundry by keeping the kids' clothes separate from ours
  10. I love blogging.  Even when I don't have much to say, the focus on positives and inspiring beautiful things is wonderful. 

Kitchen Inspiration

*Image via House Beautiful

My favorite part of these kitchen?  The painted inside of the cabinets.  Love this idea!

7.28.2010

Bedrooms, part 2

More bedrooms to love.  The first one is spectacular, isn't it?







1, 2, 3, 

7.27.2010

Cool Summer Mornings, On Sale Ice Cream, Giggles on the Front Porch


I've slacked off on writing my Three Beautiful Things posts, and I miss them.  Here are this week's Three Beautiful Things:

1.  I actually woke up cold yesterday morning.  We had the windows open, and a cool morning breeze was blowing in.  After weeks of summer heat, the cold felt so refreshing.

2.  Breyer's ice cream was on sale - four half-gallons for $8.  Needless to say, my freezer is well-stocked.  They also had one of my favorite flavors - raspberry chocolate chip. 

3.  After dinner the other night, Kev and I enjoyed a bottle of wine while the boys enjoyed popsicles.  We sat together on the front porch, watched the rain and giggled.  (Okay, so the little boy swung his popsicle around, mostly got it all over the place, and tried his best to fall down the stairs.  The big boy finished off the popsicle for him, and K blocked the stairs.  Still a fun time.)

Recently Read


I recently finished The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and I adored it.  I had several people recommend it to me, and I can't thank them enough.  It's wonderful.

I also recently finished The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and while I was entertained by it, I'm not sure I'd recommend it.  At least not highly.  I was hooked to solve the mystery and find out "who dunnit", but once I found out, I realized I didn't really care all that much.  I just never felt vested in any of the characters.  It's also pretty graphic and violent in parts - not exactly what I typically like to read when heading off to sleep.

In contrast, The Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, with its mouthful of a name, has wonderful characters that I simply fell in love with.  And after I finished reading it, I continued to think about them and imagine their lives. That's the mark of a good book.

Next up:  The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, by Aimee Bender.

7.26.2010

Menu of the Week



Chicken with Goat Cheese Artichokes and Lemon, Brown Rice Pilaf, Steamed Carrots


Grilled Pork Tenderloin, Yellow Squash/Zucchini, Potatoes and Onions


Cheeseburgers, Corn on the Cob, Tomatoes, Chips


Zucchini, Cherry Tomato and Ricotta Pasta, Wheat Bread


Dessert:  Homemade mixed berry popsicles.  My big boy won't eat fresh raspberries this year (last year he couldn't get enough - this year they are "too smooshy"), so I used the berries I got at the farmer's market in the latest batch of popsicles.  I also added some pureed spinach, because he can't complain if he doesn't know it's there, right?  I start loosely with this recipe, although I probably doubled the fruit and yogurt, stuck to 1/4 cup sugar and added the spinach.  They are YUM. 

7.24.2010

Invisible Tree House

via yahoo


How cool is this invisible treehouse?  It's a hotel in Sweden, and now I totally want to go.  It's one of six units in this TreeHotel, just miles south of the Arctic circle.  

Here's another one...

Cool, right?

  

7.23.2010

I've Got a Case of the Guilts

At least I did.  I started writing this post about how I've been battling some mommy-guilt lately.  Which is true.  But I just decided that it's silly, so I'm over it.  Okay, silly isn't the right word.  Unnecessary.  I'm an awesome mom.  I'm sure the guilt will come back again, but when it does, I'll beat it back with a stick and go on loving my boys.


I'm sure every mother experiences guilt at times, right?  (Please say yes.)  It's almost impossible to avoid.  No matter what choices you make, there are others making different ones to whom you will inevitably compare yourself.  It's perhaps toughest as a new mom, but I'm finding it only continues as they get older, and my oldest is only in preschool!

It starts out:  To work or not to work, disposable or cloth diapers, homemade or packaged baby food, organic or non-organic, breastfeeding or formula, sleep training approaches...

And it continues:  Are they eating enough veggies?  Am I reading enough to them?  Am I engaging them enough in learning activities?  Am I encouraging their curiosity the best that I can?  Am I modeling the behavior I'd like them to exhibit?  (A big one for me lately.)  Are they watching too much TV?  Are they getting outside enough?  Am I being consistent enough with discipline?


I am sure the challenges will continue as they get older.  I'll think about when the right time is to get them involved in other activities.  Whether or not I can support them in their schoolwork while still working.  What their choices of friends says about their own personalities.  If they lie.  How I can gain their trust so they will always talk to me.  Nobody said being a mom was going to be easy.

When it comes down to it, though, I think about my big boy, who said to me the other night:
"Thank you Mom, for making me dinner.  It is so so good.  You're a great mom."  I'm not sure what part of that I liked best - That he is a sweet boy who will compliment me and say thank you unprompted, or that he ate all his veggies.  All of it is good stuff.  He is a sweet boy, who is healthy and mostly polite and energetic and curious and learning and who loves me like crazy.  He also has a little brother who can't seem to get enough of me.  And in the end, that's all that matters.

Matt Pond PA - Specks


Happy music Friday!  This week's selection is from Matt Pond PA.  The latest album is called The Dark Leaves.  

Have a fabulous weekend!

Mad Men is back!


Do you watch Mad Men?  If not, you should.  It is one of the very few shows that I really enjoy.  I will admit that it took me a little while to warm up to it.  The second season in particular, dragged a bit, and I often felt a little down afterwards.  Is there such a thing as too much drama?  But season 3 was spectacular.  Great acting, interesting characters, gorgeous dresses, creative storylines.  I particularly love how they weave in the social and political climate of the 60s into the show, without it ever being about that.  The season premiere is on Sunday!  I know I will be watching.  


7.22.2010

Why, Thank You!

The lovely Louise at Lou Boos and Shoes tagged me with a Versatile Blogger award.  It means I'm supposed to share seven things about myself.  Well, it sounds like fun, but how do I decide what to tell you?  Well, here goes.  Seven extremely random things about me.



1. If I could go back to college, I'd major in English and Philosophy.  I've learned that your undergraduate major doesn't matter a whole lot when entering the business world, so why not study subjects that you find interesting?  I adored my English and Philosophy classes and wish I could've taken more.

2.  When I look at a dessert menu, I almost always opt for the fruity ones vs. the chocolate ones.  I am a lover of tarts.  Not that I don't adore chocolate.  I do.  But given the choice between a piece of chocolate cake and a mixed berry tart, I'm picking the berries every time.


3.  I don't chew gum.  Ever.  It makes my jaw hurt.  I have had TMJ issues throughout the years, and it's just not worth the pain.

4.  My favorite season is Fall.  It is gorgeous here in New England, and I love everything about it.  Blue skies, orange leaves, apple-picking, pumpkins, football, and crisp cool days.



5.  My current favorite moment of every day is right after dinner.  The boys get a burst of energy after leaving the dinner table, and they chase each other around, laughing and squealing.  Sometimes I use the time to clean up, do dishes, etc, but I've been trying to appreciate the time more.  I get down on the floor and join the tickle-sessions.  I chase the big boy around the house or around the yard.  I help the little boy climb up and down the porch stairs.  Every day, they get more and more independent.

6.  I really want to play my guitar today.  Can I make it happen?  Yes.  Even if I have to stick to songs the boys will dance to, I will pull it out today.  I'm determined.

7.  The thing I miss most about life before kids is having the time to sit and be still.  I am very good at relaxing, pondering, listening, resting, reflecting, and watching the sky.  I still try very hard to make sure I have some time every day to do this.  I always end my days in bed with a book, but I also need at least a few moments to allow my mind to wander.



I'd like to bestow this honor on the following lovely blogs:
My best blog buddy, Sara at Portland Sunshine
Diana at ExPresso

Family Photos

One of these days, it will get easier, right?  Kids do eventually have the patience to stop for a second to look at a camera and smile?  Ah well.  I'll just have to keep snapping the candids of them in the meantime.  Here are a few attempts at getting a picture of me and my boys.  They weren't having it.

7.21.2010

Wedding Painting


In yesterday's post about my sister's wedding, I mentioned how she set up a large painting canvas at her reception, and everyone filled in a space.  Well, she shared the almost-finished product with me - the final two spaces are for K, who knows what he wants to draw but just couldn't seem to find the right moment to focus on it.  I wonder how long it will be before he finishes it?

I loved this idea and think the final product will serve as a fun reminder of a beautiful day.

House Update and Bedroom Inspiration


We don't have any big house projects going on at the moment.  Which, I must say, feels nice but a little strange.  We definitely still have a lot of work left to do.  We do have a painter coming in the next few weeks to finish up some painting around our new (last year) windows.  This will enable us to put the shutters back on the house.  We took them off so long ago that I forget how the house looks with them on.  We also did have a bunch of HVAC work done, which is not exciting at all but will be nice in the winter and should help us save on our heating bills.  So I guess we are continuing to move forward, but I want to do some small update to the interior this year.  I'm thinking our bedroom.  A new duvet at least.  Perhaps a chair - I really want a chair, but finding one seems to be impossible.  Sigh.  

So, since I don't have a house project to work on at the moment, I figured I'd continue to gather inspiration online.  Focusing on bedrooms, here are some that appeal to me for various reasons.  I am not proposing them for my own room necessarily, and they are all very different; but I like the calm feel they inspire, and I want to figure out how to make that happen in our own space.  I have a bunch gathered, so I'll probably share in a few posts. 







Sources:  1, 2, 3, 4

Memory


Did you love Memory as a kid?  I did.  My big guy does, although I don't have the actual game yet.  He's been exposed at preschool and via his aunt's iPhone.  I wonder if this would keep him entertained at a restaurant.  I am not too crafty, but this is a pretty simple idea, and I bet it could be done even more simply.  Thanks to Dandee Designs for putting together a tutorial.   It's such a cute idea - check it out!

7.20.2010

Simple Wedding


Probably my favorite thing about weddings is how they reflect the personality of the couple.  At least good weddings do.  My little sister's wedding definitely reflected not only her personality and that of her husband's, but also their values.  They worked very hard to keep it as simple and as "green" as possible.

She reused my wedding dress, making it her own by adding some red accents.  She made her own bouquet using roses from Costco.   They used Paperless Post for their invitations.  They got married in an empty lot across the street from the coffeehouse where they met.  An acquaintance sang during the ceremony.  A friend was the photographer.  No bridesmaids, no wedding planner, no assigned seating and menu choices...  They kept the things that were important to them.  Open bar.  A bagpiper to play as the ceremony concluded (very nice touch!).  Emily's gorgeous hair and makeup.  And dance lessons, which I'll admit kinda cracks me up, but they really enjoyed them and are even going to continue.

One of my favorite things they did was a painting.  In addition to a more traditional guest book, they got a large painting canvas.  They used pencil to draw about 50-60 blocks, about 4-inch by 6-inch.  They set out paints and instructed everyone to fill in a spot.  They had it on display at their house all weekend, as well as at the reception.  It was fun to watch it take shape and see what people came up with.  I'm bummed I neglected to take a picture of it, but perhaps I can get her to send me a photo once it's completely filled in.  There were still a few open spots when we left.  It's very cool, and what a fun reminder of the wedding and all the friends and family who came to share in it.

Congratulations Em & David!

A little rain didn't put a damper on the ceremony.  It just added a funny and sweet moment during Em's vows when she thanked David for "showering" her with love.  

7.19.2010

Beach!



Vacation was fabulous.  It was a great escape.  It was warm, but not as warm as North Carolina in July certainly can be.  We had great evening thunderstorms - I adore a good summer thunderstorm.  Our house was right on the beach, so most mornings consisted of breakfast, putting on our suits and sunscreen, and hitting the beach as early as possible.  My little guy still takes a couple naps during the day, and that was okay too.  It afforded me the time to be by myself for a bit, start another great book, and relax.  We had lots of good family time, although with so many kids around, I will admit I still feel like I have catching up to do.  My sister's wedding was beautiful - I'll capture that in a separate post.  I took a bazillion pictures, but I promise not to share all of them.

I will also say that it was nice to take a break from being online.  There wasn't a computer, and I don't have an iPhone or anything, so I was completely unplugged for the entire week.  No email, no facebook, no blog.  I have to admit....It was nice.  That said, it's also very nice to be back!



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