2.29.2012

Reading, A Yummy Lunch, and Lavender


This week's Three Beautiful Things:

1.  I can't quite get over the fact that my baby is now reading to me during our nightly story time.  He reads slowly, carefully, and with such pride at reading a new or difficult word and completing each sentence.  My heart nearly bursts.

2.  Hummus, a little feta, black olives, and the remainder of a garden salad, all wrapped up in a whole wheat tortilla.  I sliced up a ripe pear and enjoyed a light and healthy lunch.

3.  From the sugar scrub used during my body treatment to the hand soap in my bathroom at home...lavender is the scent of the week.  It is one of my absolute favorites.

picture by Natasha at Beautifully, Suddenly

2.28.2012

A Visit from the Goon Squad - Jennifer Egan


A Visit from the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan.  I really enjoyed this book.  It is definitely not for everyone, though.  It is not a story told in linear fashion; rather, it is a series of 13 short stories, subtly linked together and scattered across about 40 years.  One of them is actually a series of powerpoint pictures, but don't let that deter you from picking it up - that chapter is fascinating!

The overall theme of the book is about how we experience time, and it ranges from the San Francisco music scene in the 1970s to a techno-savvy, futuristic New York City.  Music looms large across the stories.  Several of the primary characters work in the music industry, and mentions of popular musicians and songs help provide a reference for the setting.  I think it's also appropriate, given how music can so easily transport us back to a certain time or place, and that aspect of the book is what drew it to me in the first place.

The characters are not lovable.  Indeed, they are extremely flawed, and it can be difficult to connect with them.  Also, we are only given glimpses and not a full novel to develop each of the characters, and that makes it challenging as well.  Some of the stories are pretty dark, some are funny; but all of them kept me engaged, and the overall effect was beautiful.  

It's an interesting and thought-provoking book.  It's different to be sure, but if you view that as a positive, it's a book I would definitely recommend.

2.27.2012

Weekend Recap


What a lovely weekend.  I drove down to the coast of Connecticut to meet a friend of mine.  She lives outside New York City, and this spot is almost exactly the midpoint between us.  This was our second annual "Mary and Ali getaway weekend", and it's a tradition we plan on continuing for many years to come.  The agenda included body treatments, naps (the biggest luxury of all!), a nice dinner, manicures/pedicures (my toes are so happy right now), and rare quality time with a friend.

I am not a person who makes friends easily.  I've been told many times in the past that I can be difficult to get to know.  I'm a bit of an introvert, and I am not gifted in the art of social conversation.  (I do try, and I believe I've made progress over the years, but still.  In many respects, we are who we are.)  As a result, I treasure my friends immensely.  To have friends that I not only genuinely like to spend time with, but who also truly understand me?  That is certainly something I will never take for granted. 

2.24.2012

Thinking About...

Painting by Philipp Haager - This is what today feels like

*It's a gray and rainy Friday.  It's the end of a rather grueling work week, and I am so grateful for a break.

*This article from the Washington Post seems to be making the rounds again.  I read the entire thing again and was inspired to put on the soundtrack from The Red Violin.   If you haven't read it, you should.  It will make you stop and look around at all the beauty in life a bit more.  (By the way, have you seen that movie?  Oh you really should.)

*I'm a little worried about my tulips.  The tulips, daffodils, and crocuses are peeking out right now.  It seems a bit early, although this Winter has been unbelievably mild.  For their sake, I hope we don't have a bitterly cold spell.  It's their fault that I am already looking forward to Spring.

*I'm also a little worried about all the design decisions that will need to be made this year.  I've been thinking about my new kitchen for years, but now it's time to start making choices.  Countertops, cabinet doors, faucets, towel racks, shelves, window treatments...  Not to mention furniture, rugs, pillows, pictures. It honestly stresses me out a bit.  I need to make a list and start checking things off.

*I am loving the conversation taking place on the blogs regarding the French parenting methods.  (Like here and here and here and here.)  I like being reminded that we are the ones in charge.  I also like being reminded to slow down.  Let the kids be bored.  Boredom is the source of so much creativity and insight.  It can be easy to look around at other parents, the ones who have their kids signed up for every class under the sun, and feel distressed that perhaps I'm not doing enough for my kids.  In fact, I know that's not true.  But it's nice to be reminded.

*I am so excited to be going away with a friend tomorrow.  A couple days filled with relaxation, good wine, and the chance to catch up with one of my best friends.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend as well!


2.23.2012

Kitchen Inspiration

via This Old House magazine, photo by Ken Gutmaker, styling by Sarah Alba

I love this kitchen.  Looking at it makes me happy.  I wish we had nice tall ceilings like this.  Well, I can't raise my roof, but I can put in some nice hardwood floors and crisp white cabinetry.  I can even leave lots of fruit out so everything looks happy and fresh.  

Unfortunately, I can't do it just yet.  The permit process is miserable, and I'm now being told we can't start knocking down walls until May.  May!  Sigh.  There are some items we can cross off the list, and we do have a lot of decisions to make in the meantime.  I'll keep you posted.

2.22.2012

Two-Year-Old "No", Skiing, and Maple Syrup



1.  Instead of the simple, standard two-year-old "No!", Nathan has taken to answering questions with "Not by the hair on my chinny chin chin!"  It's honestly all I can do not to laugh every single time. 

2.  After getting off the chair lift at the top of the mountain, Aaron turned and said to me, "Mom, I'm really happy today, because skiing is my most favorite thing ever." 

3.  We walked up to our community farm over the weekend.  We saw the sap being collected from the maple trees and the smoke rising from the sugar shack.  Maple syrup is on its way. 

2.21.2012

Weekend Recap


Oh, three-day weekends, how I love thee.  We had a very family-oriented long weekend.  Lots of good quality time.  We went to the library, walked to the farm, ate at a restaurant, ran errands, played games, baked treats, painted pictures...  The list goes on.  It is pretty much nonstop action with these little guys around.  When I decided I had to sit down for a few minutes last night, they proceeded to chase and wrestle each other.  If only we all had their energy!

The highlight of the weekend, though, was a fun family day on the slopes!  We have had so much fun skiing with Aaron this winter.  We wanted to take him again this weekend, so we decided to take the whole family.  It was a ridiculously warm and sunny February day, which meant that nobody was cold and the hill was almost empty.  We asked for the "smallest skis and boots and helmet you have", which were perfect for our little guy.  Kevin and I took turns skiing with Aaron while the other stayed on the bunny slope, teaching and catching Nathan.  He was so excited to be skiing.  Every time down the hill he had his mouth wide open in a smile, and at the end he'd scream, "I did it!  I'm skiing!  I'm so upcited!".  It was absolutely worth doing. 

Here's to a four-day workweek with an excellent weekend to look back on as well as an excellent weekend to look forward to!

2.17.2012

The Civil Wars - Birds of a Feather


Almost exactly a year ago, we went to see a concert by The Civil Wars.  Their debut album had just been released, and I instantly fell in love with their music.  The concert was in a small venue, run by the Berklee College of Music.  Standing-room only in an intimate setting, which was perfect for being able to capture their amazing on-stage chemistry.  Their song "Poison & Wine" had already played on Grey's Anatomy; the buzz had begun, but still not many people knew them at that point.  

It's been a lot of fun to watch them rise this year.  Playing the late-night shows, touring with Adele, watching Barton Hollow climb the charts.  I personally have had fun introducing them to my friends.  And on Sunday, they received two Grammys!  (I'm not normally a big fan of the Grammys, but they can be fun when they get it right.)  Barton Hollow was probably my favorite album of 2011, and I can't wait to hear what they come up with next.

photo by Allister Ann

2.16.2012

Collecting Beauty...

painting by Kim Gordon

I want my home to be filled with beautiful things.  Books, art, music, pictures...  I want these things to be beautiful, but I also want them to be meaningful.  I was talking to a friend of mine the other day; and she said she'd rather stare at a blank wall for years, waiting for a picture or painting that felt right, rather than buy something purely as a placeholder.  I completely agree.  The blank walls in my house are proof.  

Slowly, but surely, we will continue to collect items to fill our home.   This little painting is an example of something that I know we will have on display forever.  I have a little stack of prints and pictures that I know I'd like to put up somewhere once we get the renovation done.  I also have been trying to be more thoughtful about the books I buy versus those I borrow.  

For Christmas, I received Kim Gordon's book of watercolors, entitled Performing/Guzzling.  I love it.  I have long been a fan of Kim Gordon the musician, and it's interesting to see her work as an artist.  I like spending time with books of art and poetry, and it's something I haven't done in a long time.  I am going to let this book serve as a reminder to do this more often.

2.15.2012

A Little Green...


I really am trying some of the things I find and pin on Pinterest.   I already tried the White Bean Kale Soup this week, and that was a hit.  Since I had some kale leftover from that, I decided to try making kale chips.  I've wanted to try these for forever.  They are ridiculously easy.  I think these flatter kale leaves would be a little easier than the regular curly kale, but it was still pretty tasty.  Even Aaron munched on a leaf.  You really have to love that.

Next I really want to try these baked eggs.  Or since my kids adore granola bars, I'd love to try a homemade version like this.

Tried anything new and fun lately?

Dark Chocolate, Friends, and Pigeon Pose


found via the lovely Simone at The Bottom of the Ironing Basket

This week's Three Beautiful Things:

1.  Heart-shaped Dove dark chocolates in the fridge.  I love being able to grab a little sweet when I want, and the heart shapes are so happy.

2.  Friends.  We had some over for brunch over the weekend, and our kids ate and then played together while we caught up.  We don't entertain enough.  I need to figure out how to make it happen more.  I'm naturally an introvert, and it takes effort for me to plan meetings with my friends.  This has become even more of an effort now that we all have kids, but it is just as important.

3.  Pigeon Pose.  I was doing yoga this morning and spent a long time in pigeon.  I think it's my favorite pose.  It stretches out the hips and feels so good.

this is not pigeon, but I did do a headstand this week too!

2.14.2012

Valentines


I have a super sweet, five-year-old Valentine.  He loves me and I love him.  I have a three-year-old and a 36-year-old Valentine too.  Three!  On this Valentine's Day, I am reminded of how much love I have.  I am a lucky girl.


Menu of the Week

Here's a little peek at what we've been eating lately:

Herb-Crusted Salmon with Roasted Lemons, Brown Rice, Sautéed Zucchini - Thankfully, Aaron is a big fan of seafood.  Nathan, not so much, but since he ate a huge plate full of rice and zucchini, I am okay with this.  This was a slight departure from our usual salmon recipe, and although Aaron first asked why it was "covered with stuff", he ate it all and I enjoyed it very much.

Chicken Parmesan, Garden Salad - This is an old standby recipe.  It's a very simple meal to pull together, and leftovers are versatile as well.  Kevin enjoyed a chicken parm sandwich for lunch over the weekend.

Tex-Mex Pasta Salad, Tortilla Chips, Fresh Guacamole - We all love this one.  It's easy, it makes a ton, it's flexible (use up whatever you have).  On-sale avocados to make guac was a bonus. 

Sausage, White Bean, and Kale Soup - I love finding recipes via blogs and pinterest.  It seems easier now than ever before to add variety to the weekly menus.  This one was easy, and Kevin and I enjoyed it.  The boys actually did shockingly well with it, kale and all.  (Note:  I used turkey sausage and veggie broth instead of the water/bouillon cubes.)

The other nights I made meals mentioned here.  Pierogies, apples, salad, and corn.  Margherita pizza from Costco.

2.13.2012

Weekend Recap

Some highlights from a pretty quiet weekend at home:

*We had friends over for breakfast on Saturday morning.  They have boys of similar ages, and it was fun to watch them run around the house, especially now that they are becoming more and more independent.  It allowed for some actual adult conversation too, and it was great to catch up with friends who we do not see often enough.
*Blueberry pancakes and fruit salad.  We stuffed ourselves.
*A quick trip to the library - our usual routine.  It's so much fun to get new books for the boys.
*We watched "The Tree of Life".  Kevin fell asleep, and I'll admit that for the first 45 minutes or so, I simply felt like I was watching a science special on the Discovery Channel.  So many beautiful images of the universe.  But then there was a shift, and I started to get it.  It is a slow-paced but gorgeous movie, and it's one you should watch only if you have the patience and the desire to think. 
*Okay, it either needs to snow or warm up.  We played outside, and I basically ran up and down the street to stay warm while the boys rode their scooters.  Brrr!
*Chocolate-covered strawberries!  I don't know why I didn't think of doing this before.  Seeing a picture of them on pinterest (of course), I thought "how hard can they be?"  Well, the answer is not at all!  It is seriously as simple as melting some chocolate, dipping strawberries, and letting them cool on wax paper.  They may not be works of art, but they sure are tasty.  I'm thinking these might become a Valentine's Day tradition.

2.10.2012

Dr. Dog - That Old Black Hole


I needed some upbeat and fun music to carry me through this week.  Dr. Dog did the trick.  They have a new album out called Be The Void (only $5.99!).  Add it to the list of kid-approved music too.  


2.08.2012

Frisbee, Humor, and Mementos


This week's Three Beautiful Things:

1.  When we got back home on Sunday, we played outside for a bit with the boys.  It can be hard to play outside when it's cold, at least without snow on the ground.  We picked up a couple frisbees.  Throwing frisbees in February when it's 30 degrees?  Actually pretty awesome.

2.  I've had several tense meetings at work lately.  On one particularly draining call the other day, a colleague made a joke, and you could feel some of the pressure lift.  What an amazing talent that is.

3.  When eating lunch in Stowe, my sister-in-law asked the waitress what would happen if a couple pint glasses went missing from our table.  She replied with a smile, "Glasses?  What glasses?" Now I have a pint glass in my cabinet that will always remind me of a great weekend.

Cy Twombley

2.06.2012

Weekend Recap - Stowe


Awesome, awesome weekend.  We went up to Stowe, Vermont, and had a really great time.  I had never been there before, and now I'm already looking forward to going back.  Highlights:

*Swimming in the pool and lounging in the hot tub, while fat snowflakes fell gently on our faces.  One of those moments when you think:  "Life is sooooo good." 
*Skiing!  They got a few inches of snow Friday night, which made Saturday's skiing even more fun.  Kevin and I were at the mountain before the lifts opened, ready to go.  I hadn't done any real skiing in such a long time (since before kids).  The weather was great, and it was a blast.
*We went with my sister-in-law and her husband, who are a ton of fun to spend time with.  Isn't it great when you have compatible travel partners? 
*I finished the last book in The Hunger Games series.  The last one was my least favorite, but I'd definitely recommend the trilogy.  It's addictive, and the fact that I read all three in 6 days is proof of that fact.
*When we arrived back at home on Sunday, my boys nearly tackled me to the floor.  Aaron squeezed me and held his cheek against mine for several minutes, not wanting to let go.  Now that's a good reception! 

Goals for the week?  Hm.  I haven't thought about it yet.  Let's take this week one day at a time...

2.03.2012

The Barr Brothers - Beggar in the Morning


The Barr Brothers.  Because you have to love a band that has a harp, don't you?


2.02.2012

The Little Things...


The end of another week.  Well, it's the end of mine anyway.  We are taking off tomorrow morning for a weekend in Vermont.  I'm looking forward to good meals, interesting conversation, beautiful mountains, fun skiing, and even the long drives with my husband.  All of it will be kid-free, and although I always miss my boys when we're apart, these little breaks are good for all of us.  

These are just a few pictures I snapped around the house.  The little pot of succulents has been making me happy since my mom gave it to me for Christmas.  (Thanks Mom!)  I think now that the boys are getting a little older, perhaps I can bring more plants into the house.  

Below is my "to-read" stack of books.  The pile grows on my nightstand.  I am currently making my way through The Hunger Games trilogy - a guilty pleasure to be sure, but one I'm thoroughly enjoying.  Any suggestions on what I should pick up next?  

I've gained so much by learning to appreciate and express gratitude for all the little things in life.  Plants, books, music, and road trips are just a few of the things I am grateful for today.  What about you?


2.01.2012

Little Helpers, Sunsets, and Clean Kitchens



1.  Spending time one-on-one with each of my boys is so much fun.  On Sunday, I got to spend the day with my little guy, Nathan.  We had a full day.  Scooters, play-doh, puzzles...  He helped me make pumpkin-cranberry muffins.  Usually his older brother is my helper, but Nathan loved getting a chance to participate.  He very carefully measured everything, stirred, poured, and put muffin liners in.  He was so proud at the results.  

2.  When we got home at the end of the day, we could see the sun dipping down over the river, turning the sky a dark orange.  We watched for several minutes while it then turned pink.  We got cold and ran inside, but then we watched it turn purple.  

3.  A clean kitchen.  After working on it for years, I've finally come to appreciate some of my daily chores, including washing dishes and cleaning the counters after dinner.  I think I will appreciate it even more in my new kitchen, but even now I can appreciate the feeling of satisfaction that comes with ending the day with things in their proper place.  



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