January 31, 2014

A Few Things...

Don't wait...

Happy Friday!  We had a smooth week.  Parent/teacher conferences, baking cookies, budgeting fun, and some extra cleaning that makes me feel like I'm actually getting ahead.  I had an especially good yoga session this morning, and we're headed back to the slopes tomorrow - I feel great!  Hope you all have a great weekend.

Here are a few interesting things that I've run across this week:

Five Pete Seeger songs to sing together.  We lost a good one this week.

Parenting Behaviors That Keep Children From Growing Into Leaders.  It's so easy to do some of these things, but it's so important to remind ourselves what is best for our children in the long term.

Extremely Long But Fascinating Article About President Obama.  Seriously long, but a worthy read.

Mindful Drinking.  I've been doing the same thing, not reaching for that glass of wine even when I really want it.  That said, it's Friday night and I'm making something of the Mexican variety.  There will be beer.

Solar System Tour.  I'm a space geek.  I just love this stuff.

Two posts from Momastery:  This one, about the questions we ask in a relationship.  And this one, that you should read and share. And then go thank a teacher.

Four Ways to Hear More in Music.  Read this and then listen to a song you love.

Marriage Advice From a Divorce Lawyer.  Written by my cousin, this contains a lot of great advice.

Have you read the post on Design*Sponge about the changing face of blogging?  It's genuine and thoughtful.  I think one thing she neglects to discuss is that there are different segments of bloggers.  At least two - one that's trying to build a business/brand and potentially make a little money, and one that blogs for themselves, a creative outlet, communication with family/friends...  It's thought-provoking, though.

January 29, 2014

Random Thoughts...

source unknown

Am I really the only one that thought Beyonce and Jay Z sounded awful at the Grammys?  They are both beautiful, immensely talented people, but really...I was surprised to hear everybody gush about that performance.  I watch the Grammys mostly out of curiosity.  Almost every year, I am pleasantly surprised by someone's performance.  Most of the music is not my preference, but I can appreciate music of all styles.  I liked Lorde, Pink was impressive, I can acknowledge Taylor Swift's talents, I like Kacey Musgrave, and actually I think my favorite performance of the night was Kendrick Lamar.  I am almost tempted to buy a rap album!  

I am spending a lot of time with our budget this week.  This time of year always brings a renewed focus on our spending, as we both recover from the heavy spending that occurs at the end of the year and attempt to cover the expenses that occur as we plan for the summer.  It is no fun.  

The southeast is getting hit with a winter storm, and my hometown is getting snow!  A few inches of snow is nothing up here, but when it happens in the south, it is a huge deal.  Schools and businesses are closed, traffic is ridiculous... It's a little funny to watch from afar.  I hope everyone stays safe and that my nieces get to build a snowman.  

Someone once told me that you are either an "inviter" or an "invitee".  Meaning, you are either someone who is always asking people to do things, or the opposite.  I wonder if this is true.  I do feel like I am very often the one who is arranging get-togethers, and I sometimes get frustrated that more of my friends don't make the effort to reciprocate.  

I have picked out most of the items I want to "finish" our family room.  Pillows for the couch, a mirror for the wall, an end table...  and I'll also want a lamp and big plant.  But we can't afford any of it right now.  See comments re: budget above.  It's still fun to plan.  

We watched 'Captain Phillips' last weekend.  Intense, and very good.  I haven't seen many of the Oscar-nominated movies, and I want to see more of them.  Especially 'American Hustle', '12 Years a Slave', and 'Dallas Buyers Club'.  Everybody is saying that 'Her' is amazing, and yet I don't have much of a desire to see it.  'Wolf of Wall Street' either.  I do want to see 'Blue Jasmine'.  What movies/actors will you be rooting for on Oscar night?  

After a few weeks of regular and more frequent yoga, I can feel a difference!  I am getting deeper into poses, feeling more comfortable in pigeon, holding wheel longer, staying up the entire time in crow, feeling strong and stable in dancer....it's a beautiful feeling.  

It's Wednesday.  Funny how the days hold less significance when you're not bound by the work-week.  Kevin says "Is it Friday yet?", and I remember that feeling.  For now, I look forward to every day.  

source unknown

January 27, 2014

Menu of the Week

photos from Cooking Light and Martha Stewart

Red Leaf Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes
After a weekend that included lots of eating out, Kevin was craving a dinner salad.  This is one of my favorites.  I may have overdone the garlic/vinegar in the dressing a bit this time - it's a tricky balance - but this is such a great winter salad.  The boys ate the sweet potatoes, walnuts, and green beans along with some fish sticks.  

Almond-Stuffed Chicken, Asparagus, Roasted Acorn Squash
An old favorite.  Aaron especially loves this chicken.  Nathan especially loves the squash.  

Penne with Creamy Pumpkin Sauce, Salad
I thought I remembered enjoying this pasta, but either I did something wrong this time, or I remembered incorrectly.  It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great.  I probably won't make it again.

Potato and Onion Frittata w/ Asparagus, Salad, Toast
This is my starter recipe when making frittatas.  I added the leftover asparagus and a little cheddar on top.  So good, and a very easy veggie dinner option.

Vegetarian Chili, Cornbread
We had this awesome chili at a friend's house, and since we liked it better than the vegetarian chili I usually make, I asked for the recipe.  It's adapted from a recipe that she clipped from a magazine years ago, and I'm documenting it here so I have it saved.

2 tbsp vegetable oil
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 red pepper, finely chopped
1 cup of scallions, finely chopped
1 cup of cilantro, chopped
2 cans petite diced tomatoes
2-4 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced
1 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 can pinto beans, rinsed
1 can small white beans, rinsed
1 box/bag frozen corn, defrosted (can go light on the corn and add an extra can of beans - personal preference)
2 1/2 cups of vegetable broth
Heat oil in pan over med.  Heat - add garlic, pepper, scallions.  Cook until tender (~8 - 10 min.).  Add tomoatoes, chipotle pepper, chili power, cumin, salt, cook 2 more minutes.  Add all beans, corn, veggie broth and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, turn down the heat to a simmer and cook and additional 30 min.  Remove from heat and stir in cilantro.  

January 24, 2014

Recently Read

The Lowland, by Jhumpa Lahiri.  I liked this book.  It's the story of two brothers from India.  I hate reviews that tell you too much about the plot, so I won't.  I'll just say that it's about difficult choices, decisions that impact others and last a lifetime.  It's also about family.  It's well-written, and I'd recommend it.

Waging Heavy Peace: A Hippie Dream, by Neil Young.  Yes, I know...another memoir by a music icon.  What can I say?  Musicians fascinate me.  Neil Young is pretty cool, and reading this book is like hanging out with him and talking over several drinks.  Even though he doesn't drink any more.  The book is all over the place - it's not in any kind of order, time or otherwise - and yet it works.  He writes as I imagine he talks.  He's led a pretty interesting life, and he is so passionate about his interests that it's fun to read.

The Girl You Left Behind, by Jojo Moyes.  I loved this book.  Written by the same author as Me Before You, which I also loved, this one has a much more uplifting ending.  It starts out in France during World War 1, with a young woman and her sister, attempting to maintain their hotel/bar and take care of their children after their husbands leave to fight and their town is occupied by the Germans.  It moves to present day London, where a woman is four years removed from losing her husband.  Her favorite possession is a painting her late husband bought her on their honeymoon - the same painting that hung in that hotel in France.  A legal battle over ownership of the painting ensues, and the entire history of the painting and its subject make up the story.  It's beautiful, and unlike so many of the books I've loved recently, the ending is wholly satisfying.  Highly recommend.

Minor Alps - I Don't Know What To Do With My Hands

I have been a fan of Juliana Hatfield for forever.  I am really loving this partnership between Juliana and Matthew Caws (Nada Surf)...it's beautiful.  

January 23, 2014

What's Going On...

Laura Marling lyrics

January can be a strange month.  On one hand, I enjoy the fresh start of a new year, the peacefulness and quiet after the noisy fun chaos that is December.  I like snowy days and skiing, and I'm usually motivated to clean and organize.  I schedule date nights and gatherings with friends, and I start looking forward to summer by making vacation plans.  On the other hand, sometimes these cold and gray days make me want to do nothing except curl up in front of a fireplace with a good book.  

I guess I've been doing some of both.  I've been reading a lot, and I've been somewhat unmotivated to move through my list.  I've craved silence and solitude.  But then I have other days when I manage to get a lot done.  I suppose that's a decent balance.  

Lady Mary.  Source unknown.

So what have I been doing lately?  Well, last weekend was a good one.  We got a full day of skiing in on Saturday, and Nathan is officially an independent skier now.  Yay!  I must say...I love having an activity that all four of us can do together.  Watching the boys go down the slopes, side by side, is a joy.  And I also love that it has completely changed my perspective on winter.  I still hate it when it gets too cold, as it has been a lot lately, but I enjoy snowstorms more than ever.  

We also spent an afternoon/evening with friends.  The boys played, and the adults enjoyed good conversation.  It was a lot of fun, and a reminder that time spent with friends is time well spent.  

Yoga!  Kevin got me a gift certificate to a local yoga studio for Christmas, and I signed up for an introductory month.  It's hot yoga, which I haven't always liked, so I wanted to try out a few of the classes.  I've been going about three times a week, and I am loving it.  My shoulders feel strong, I find myself sitting up straighter, and I haven't had any jaw/neck pain at all.  (That's where I carry stress, so to live without tightness or pain there is a wonder.)  

Downton Abbey is back...thank you to the Europeans for not publishing any spoilers.  I'm so happy it looks like Lady Mary isn't going to stay mopey and sad for too long.  We also recently finished season 2 of Homeland, and unfortunately, it's been impossible to avoid hearing details about season 3.  Is it still worth watching?  I hope so - I guess we'll see.  

Otherwise...dreaming of future house decorating projects, filling out school forms, making those vacation plans, buying lift tickets, practicing my guitar, sitting with the boys as they make their valentines, and the usual cleaning and cooking routine that serves as the overall outline for my days.  

something about this house, this color.  stunning.  source unknown.

January 17, 2014

Waxahatchee - Swan Dive

Waxahatchee (a.k.a. Katie Crutchfield) makes me wonder...how old is too old to own your first electric guitar?

photo by Rachel Del Sordo

January 14, 2014

Menu of the Week

photos from Cooking Light, Dinner: A Love Story, and Martha Stewart

One way I start to feel more on top of things is to get the weekly meal planning under control.  It should be an easy thing, but I swear it takes so much energy to come up with that list of meals!  I have a decent list of standards at this point, but I get bored of them sometimes.  I also want to make sure the boys are exposed to a wide variety of foods.  My goal is to include one new recipe every week, and that's exactly what I did last week.

Roasted Corn and Goat Cheese Quesadillas, Black Beans, Yellow Rice
This one never fails.  Members of the "clean plate club" all around.  

Baked Chicken in Creamy Tomato Sauce, Penne, Sauteed Kale
Aaron ate all his kale!  Without complaint!  Woohoo!  It's amazing how much joy that gives me.  Nathan at least tried his, but he opted for carrot sticks and pepper slices instead.  That's okay too.

Burgers (Turkey for Aaron and Kevin, Veggie for me and the little man), Oven Fries, Salad
I cut the potatoes thin this time, and I only used olive oil, salt, and pepper on them.  Baked until they were nice and crispy.  Soooooo good!  Clean plate club members again!  (The boys ate the veggies from the salad, minus the greens.)

Butternut Squash Chowder, Baguette
Nathan adores this soup, and I adore having homemade soup in the freezer.  Being able to pull it out, warm it up, and serve it quickly after coming home from piano....priceless.  

Vegetable and Tofu Pad Thai
This was my new recipe for the week, and it was mildly successful.  I added some snap peas, because I had them and because I thought it could use more veggies.  I also think it could use more sauce - I'd increase it if I made it again.  It also really needs all the extras - the scallions, peanuts, cilantro.   Nathan did well with his, with lots of peanuts on top.  Aaron started out strong, then decided he wasn't really a fan.  I think I may need to accept the fact that my boys aren't huge fans of Asian foods.  Hmpf. 

January 13, 2014

Hot Stove Cool Music

photo by Kelly Davidson

Overall, the weekend was quiet, a little too quiet at times.  It's tough containing the massive energy of two little boys within the walls of our little house.  With no snow to lure them outside, it's common to see them literally bouncing off the walls.  But we managed.  Lots of games and watching winter sports championships in preparation for the upcoming olympics.

The highlight of the weekend was our outing Saturday night.  Kevin and I attended a benefit concert hosted by Theo Epstein (former GM of the Boston Red Sox), Peter Gammons (baseball commentator), and Mike O'Malley (actor/writer).  They rounded up some of their musician friends for the 14th year in a row to raise money for The Foundation to be Named Later, which benefits many wonderful charities in Boston.  Not only is it for a great cause, but they also just happen to include some of my favorite musicians.

Kay Hanley (Letters to Cleo) and Tanya Donelly (Throwing Muses, Belly) are two of my all-time favorites, and they are the main reasons I wanted to attend.  They did not disappoint.  We also got to see Kingsley Flood again, and if you haven't checked them out yet, you should.  Especially if you get a chance to see them live.

Live music is so good for my soul.  It fills me up.  Standing in a crowd, feeling the bass in my chest, singing along (or listening), dancing (or standing still).  One of my absolute favorite things in life.

Kingsley Flood

Tanya Donelly and Bill Janovitz

January 10, 2014

Aoife O'Donovan - Oh, Mama

In January, the music I listen to tends to consist of those albums I didn't pay enough attention to the previous year.  I also get suggestions of albums I missed from those end of year "best of" lists, and I never fail to find a few gems hidden within.  

I have always enjoyed Crooked Still, and yet I was a little hesitant to pick up Aoife O'Donovan's solo album, Fossils, when it first came out.  In my opinion, her voice was sometimes a weakness in the Crooked Still songs.  Too breathy and slight to compete with the musicality of the instruments in the band.  After giving it a listen, though, I discovered that she found the best ways of using her voice.  It's more prominent in her own songs, and it doesn't have to struggle to be heard.  I loved the music immediately.

The song above has been on repeat, and I've enjoyed fiddling with it myself on my guitar.  The entire album is beautiful, though - check it out.

January 9, 2014

A Few Things...

source unknown

As I said, I've been reading more than writing lately, so I thought I'd share a few of the things I've stumbled across recently.  Enjoy...

Did you see Brian Williams' interview with the American astronauts currently living on the International Space Station?  And have you seen 'Gravity' yet?  It's soooooo cool.

Love this Billboard interview with Throwing Muses.  The music industry - the one creating the most popular music - makes me sad.  But I'm happy that great musicians have found a way to work around it.

Carl Sagan was cool.  This is part of his last interview, and it's disturbing.

20 Excellent Web Sites for Kids.  I limit the amount of time the boys spend on the computer, but when I do allow them time on it, I want to make sure they're getting something of value from it.  Starfall.com has been a favorite of ours, and I'm excited to learn of some other high-quality learning sites out there.

Joni Mitchell Interview.  Super cool.

Things to Do Before You're 40.  (Thanks, Lou!)  I love this list, despite the fact that they make you click through every item.  So annoying.  If you don't have the patience, I'll hit some highlights for you:

Stop caring what others think about you.  Buy a piece of artwork.  Skinny dip.  Stay awake until the sun comes up.   Sleep under the stars.  Have dessert without feeling guilty.  Go on a road trip.  Have a crazy weekend in Las Vegas.  Go to the perfect music festival.  Have a home you love.  Own a piece of jewelry that means something.  Be proud of something you achieved through hard work.  Find a form of exercise you actually like.  Have too many books on your "must read" list.  Take a course.

I've done most of the items on the list, and a few I'll never need to do.  (I'll be just fine if I never find a whisky I like, and nobody wants to see me as a blonde.  I also would love to live in another country for a while, but I don't think that's in the cards for us at this point.  And leather trousers...well.  Let's just say that I know my own personal style.) However, I would like to find that perfect shade of red lipstick.  And I'd like to have a signature dish that I serve to guests.

What else must I do before March and the big 4-0 rolls around?

January 8, 2014

Getting Started...

image found via pinterest - source unknown
I just love this green barn, though.  

After all the loveliness of the holiday season, I always appreciate the new beginning in January.  I tend to feel the urge to organize and clean and get the calendar straightened out for the new year.  I kick my exercising up a notch, and we all embrace the school routine.

Except.  I haven't quite found my rhythm.  Not sure why, but the usual "get up and go" hasn't hit me yet.  I've still maintained my usual exercise routine, and the kids are now back in school.  I'm running errands, checking items off the list.  But I'm not ahead of it yet.  I need to get to that place where I can be doing those extra chores around the house, where I feel like I have time to schedule a coffee or lunch with a friend.  I'll get there.  It's only been a few days, so I will accept that this is a catch-up week.  Next week I'll get further down the list.

I haven't even felt the urge to come up with any resolutions, or even an overarching theme such as "more music" or "be present", my goals from the last two years.  Truthfully, I think I'm doing okay.  When I read the lists about "how to simplify your life", I find that I already do most of the suggestions.  Regular donations, reduce clutter, simplify the wardrobe, minimize buying, buy quality, slow down and enjoy meals, create a weekly menu, etc...  There is always something to be done on this front - this week I'm focused on reducing the amount of subscriptions hitting my email inbox, and man that feels good - but it's an area that already has my focus.

I have the same resolutions as everyone else:  Be nice.  Exercise.  Drink more water.  Sleep more.  Take care of myself.  Don't compare.  Don't judge.  Practice my guitar.  Wash my face every night, and don't forget the eye cream.  Patience, patience, patience.

My current state extends to the blog, which obviously has been sparse lately.  I've been getting caught up with my favorites, preferring to read rather than to write.  But I will be back.  I'll find my groove again.  We all go through phases, right?  I do find that if I've been away for too long, I genuinely miss this space.  There's something about putting your thoughts out there, writing them down for all to see.  And particularly since I am home full-time right now, it's a daily connection that sustains me.

Until next time...

January 2, 2014


Ahhhh...  After a wonderful month of activity and fun and, let's face it, excess, I am happy to welcome January and the start of a new year.  Taking the tree down, packing away the decorations, cleaning the house...As much as I love the holiday season, it always feels a little refreshing when it's over.  The house feels lighter, and my focus shifts towards the coming year. 

We had a wonderful Christmas, starting with a quiet time at home with my boys.  We then got to spend time with family, and I got to hold my new and beautiful baby niece.  We visited friends, ate too much, watched movies, played games, and did all the requisite holiday things.  We then spent a few awesome days in Vermont, getting our first taste of skiing for the season.  The boys are progressing, the weather was good, and we had a blast.  Then back home for a few more quiet days, which made it easier to transition back to the school routine.  No complaints here.  All good things.  

As I look back on 2013, all I can do is smile.  It was full of growth, fun, and joy.  As I look forward to 2014, I get excited.  We have several fun trips in the planning stages, and the calendar seems to be filling already.  2014 will see my baby start kindergarten (!), and it may also see my return to work.  Expect much more on that as I figure out what to do with my life.  I am nervous about it, but I'm trying to stay optimistic that the right situation is out there for me.  

There is time.  For now, I'm going to enjoy my coffee, turn up the music, put the house back together, and reflect on how absolutely lovely my life is right now.  

My boys


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