June 26, 2008

Vacation, Vacation, Vacation

This Week's Three Beautiful Things:

1. I'm on vacation. Hopefully relaxing by the pool or playing on the beach with my boys. Sipping sangria in the sunshine. Laughing with my friends.

2 & 3. See #1.

June 25, 2008


I recently discovered frozen tilapia fillets at Costco. I have been trying to cook fish more often at home, and I thought that if I had some in my freezer, I'd be more likely to do it. Having to buy fresh seafood is more of a challenge for me. Tilapia is an easy and versatile fish, and I've been having fun finding good recipes for it. I posted last week about these great homemade fish sticks. Well, here's another one:

It's really yummy, and it's a light and healthy meal - perfect for summer. Would be great with a nice glass of white wine. It's also super easy - if you make the dressing ahead of time, it's a 6-minute meal. Serve with rice.

June 24, 2008

I Tackled the Fridge!

Well, I started it anyway. Cleaning out the refrigerator is actually a huge task, which is why it often gets put off until things start sticking to the shelves. I was never going to find a consolidated block of time to tackle the whole thing, so I broke it down. We were low on groceries, which is the best time to do this of course, so I took out each shelf and gave it a thorough scrubbing before putting it back in and arranging the items. Next up is the drawers, which I'll do the next time we're low on groceries. I figure I'll need four steps to complete the entire activity:

1. Refrigerator shelves
2. Refrigerator drawers
3. Refrigerator doors
4. Freezer (Ugh! The dreaded freezer. Worst of all. But there are weird and interesting things frozen in there that must be removed.)

If there's a cleaning or organizing project that you know you need to do, but you just can't seem to find the time (or you don't want to spend that much time) to do the whole thing at once - break it down into manageable chunks. Just taking that first step will motivate you to finish it. Eventually.
*And because it is always fun to see what's inside someone else's refrigerator, here's a peek in mine. This is mid-cleaning, of course, so look at the shelves, and not the drawers.

June 23, 2008

Alicia Bock

Here's another find on Etsy: A photographer named Alicia Bock. She has beautiful pictures, particularly if you like soft pinks and blues. These fruity shots caught my eye, and I was thinking of them for our dining room. K likes the pears, but vetoed the cherries, so I guess I'll keep looking. I still like them, though.
And I still very much like her pictures. My next suggestion was this picture, perhaps for our entryway - it needs a nice splash of color. K likes it, but we need to work out the specifics (size, placement).

Here is Alicia Bock's website. Go check out the rest of her work. You won't be disappointed!

June 20, 2008


We're going on vacation tomorrow! Hooray! I've scheduled a few posts out through next week, so you don't miss me too much while I'm away.

Jack Johnson makes me think of being at the beach, and Ben Harper is just cool. Here are two songs that they perform together.

June 19, 2008

This Week's Menu

Southwestern Salad
*I made this on Sunday, and K agreed that this will be one of our regulars from now on. Yummy!

Linguini with Basil Pea Cream Sauce

Tomato/Mozzarella Salad

Turkey Burgers with Goat Cheese and Grilled Pepper Relish


June 18, 2008

Rub Noses, Salty Air, and Thunderstorms

This week's Three Beautiful Things:

1. I ask the little boy for a "rub noses", and he grabs my face and pull it towards his. He has a big grin on his face and he giggles as I rub my nose with his.

2. I step out of my car when I get to work, and I'm greeted by fresh salt air. I love the smell of the ocean. I don't get to the beach often enough, but I love that I get to see the ocean every day.

3. We got to watch a thunderstorm approach us - the sky crackling with spectacular lightning. It's great to go to sleep with the sky pouring and rumbling outside.

June 17, 2008

Date Night - Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Movie admission: $19
Popcorn, root beer, and raisinets: $11
Babysitter: $40

Enjoying a funny movie and a night out with my husband....priceless.

The Blessings of a Rainy Day

Last weekend, I blogged about how nice it is when the weatherpeople get it wrong- that is, a rainy day turns out not to be rainy after all. This weekend, I got to appreciate the positives of a rainy day.

The first blessing? An 8AM wake-up call. Seriously! 8AM! I haven't slept that late since the little boy was born. I rolled over and looked at the clock, and I jumped up - I was startled that it was so late and that I hadn't heard the little boy calling for us yet. Then I realized that it was dark and rainy outside - I'm sure that kept him quiet longer than usual. Just then, he lost his patience and said "Mom! I'm up! Come play with me now!" (In his own, 18-month way, of course.) I was happy to oblige.

That set the tone for the day. The second blessing? Although the rain kept us indoors, we were all feeling good and happy to play inside. For the little boy, he played with absolutely everything in the house, as we moved from room to room. For me and Kev, it meant that we didn't have to do yard work, and we didn't have to feel guilty about not doing it. It was raining - what could we do?

The third blessing was that the rainy day somehow motivated Kevin to go through his clothes. He finally finished swapping out his summer and winter clothes, and he managed to part with a rather sizable pile of items. I scheduled a pick-up for this week. Hooray!

And the fourth? When the little boy went down for his nap, I got to use up some leftover pumpkin from the freezer to make some pumpkin muffins for the week. I wouldn't generally bake on a warm and sunny day; but on a cold, wet, dreary day, baking is the perfect activity. It made the house feel warm and cozy, and my breakfasts have been very tasty this week.

*Aaron had fun arranging all his animals around the table with him so they could watch him put his puzzle together. Until I put on some music - then he had to get up and dance!

June 16, 2008

The best fish I've ever cooked

At least, that's what my husband told me after eating these Panko-Crusted Fish Sticks with Herb Dipping Sauce. They are very easy, super yummy, and yes, the kids will eat them too. (The little boy didn't really care for the sauce, but he gobbled up the fish!) We are definitely adding this one to our list of favorites!

Baby Stuff: Bibs

Bibs, bibs, bibs. My god, when our little one started eating solids, we went through bibs like crazy. I felt like I was washing a load of bibs every other day! We had plenty, since we got so many as gifts, so that wasn't a problem. And they did the trick with pureed foods. The problem arose when we started moving to finger foods - cheerios and onward. The solution: this soft bib by Kiddopotamus.

Baby Bjorn has a similar one out there, and we actually have one, but I much prefer this kind, as does the boy. The Bjorn one is very hard, and it's not very comfortable for him to wear. This one is much more portable, too - just wipe it off and roll it up! We use this one bib for every meal now. It's great!

June 14, 2008

A's West Coast Bud

One of the fun things about being a mom is that I now totally get how amazingly awesome being a mom is. And I truly become giddy when I my friends have babies, because I know how fabulous it is and how happy they are going to be. Here is one of my good friends with her brand-new baby boy. Aren't they beautiful? You can tell by looking at her face that she fell in love at first sight. Listen to her gush on her blog.

Check him out! He's already so expressive - seems like he's ready to conquer the world. Or at least play with Mom and Dad. A can't wait to meet his new West Coast buddy!

June 13, 2008


My favorite museum that I've visited is the Marc Chagall museum in Nice. Not only are his paintings gorgeous and dream-like, but the museum itself is a beautiful and serene place. It's a small museum, which is nice, because you can really spend time in each room and not feel rushed, and you don't run out of energy before taking it all in.

Kevin and I visited here while on our honeymoon, which makes it extra special for me. The painting above is enormous in real life, and I adore it. Of course, I am the bride and Kev is my "green guy". Almost six years ago... We had so much fun touring around Provence. Don't we look young and happy?

This was the view from our hotel room. We started every morning with cafe au lait and pan au chocolat on our balcony. We must go back!

June 12, 2008

Etsy Shop - Le Papier Designs

Although I am not the creative type, I have such awe and admiration for people who are, and I truly appreciate the time and effort that goes into handmade items. It feels so much more personal if you have something handmade hanging on your walls rather than something picked up at Target. (Not that there's anything wrong with Target, of course, but you know what I mean.)

Etsy is a really great web site where you can buy all things handmade. It's kind of like eBay, in that it gathers a lot of sellers together, but it's not an auction, and there's a ton of really great stuff out there. Jewelry, posters, clothes, paintings, photographs, pottery, you name it.

I am in the market for some wall art to decorate our dining room and hallway, so I've been perusing the aisles of Etsy. Here is a shop that caught my eye - not for my dining room, but maybe one of the silhouette prints in the upstairs hallway by the kid(s) rooms in the future? Or not. Sometimes it's just fun to browse and see what creations exist. I'll share other sites along the way in my quest to find handmade items to decorate the house.

June 11, 2008

Walden Pond, Compliments, and Watermelon

This week's Three Beautiful Things:

1. We wanted to go to some water to get some relief from the hot weather. The beaches are a bit of a drive, so we decided to go to Walden Pond. We went early in the morning, and the little boy got to dig in the sand and splash in the water. A fun and easy outing for the family.

2. The trip to Walden Pond was my first opportunity to wear my new bathing suit. K called me his "hot wife" and complimented my bikini.

3. We had a slice of watermelon for dessert. With temperatures in the 90s, it was such a refreshing treat. The cold, sweet juice drizzled down my chin, which made me giggle and feel like a kid.

June 10, 2008

Quote of the Day

"Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you." - Dr. Seuss

What should I do with my wedding dress?

I love my wedding dress. It fit me like a glove, it was really comfortable and easy to dance in, and it accentuated my toned arms. Above all, it made me feel special, as every bride should feel.

Now, however, that beautiful dress is preserved and packed in a rather large box in my house. I don't want to put it in either the attic or the basement for fear of it getting damaged, and every time I see that huge box, I wonder what I should do with it. Should I sell it? But what if I have a daughter who may want to wear it? Or what if I don't have a daughter, or she doesn't want to wear it anyway? Then I've kept it stored in my house for 30 years for what exactly?

I've told K several times that I'd really like to wear it again. I'd like to throw a dinner party and have all the women come wearing their wedding dresses and the guys their tuxes. How fancy! Would you go to a party like that? Of course, then I guess I still have the same problem afterwards, only then my dress would need to be cleaned and preserved all over again. Sigh. What to do, what to do.

Maybe I should sell it. It would probably feel good to know that somebody else got to enjoy wearing it on their special day. I'm going to have to continue to think about this one. What did you do with yours?

June 9, 2008

This Week's Organizing: A Couple More Drawers

I'll note up front that this isn't a picture of my kitchen. My kitchen is awful, and I refuse to include it in pictures. But I do like looking at kitchen design pictures, because one day, we'll be able to get a new kitchen. In the meantime, I'm focusing on reducing some of the clutter so that it's not too awful to live with my existing one. To that end, I cleaned out one more drawer and one cabinet this weekend. I came away with yet another bag of stuff to be donated, and I am left with a cabinet where I can actually find what I'm looking for.

(Seriously, next week has to be the fridge. Bottles are starting to stick to the shelves. Ew.)

Tomato Update: *(&%#*@ Rabbits!

I like rabbits. Really, I do. And I love that we live in an area that has wild animals - rabbits, geese, turkeys, occasionally deer... But in the span of one week since planting the tomatoes outside, I lost three full plants (and parts of others). Sigh. So we got some spray that is supposed to help, and we put some netting around each of the plants. The netting really isn't intended to keep out rabbits - we have it wrapped around our blueberry bushes to try to keep out the chipmunks and birds that ate our entire blueberry supply last summer. But I figure, if the rabbits make their way through the netting and decide the hot pepper spray doesn't really taste that bad, then they can have my tomatoes. If it doesn't work, then I'll just accept the fact that I can't grow tomatoes until we set up a separate little garden with a fence around it. Not this year. So keep your fingers that this does the trick. Otherwise, I'll just have to give up my hopes of having a few home-grown tomatoes this summer.

June 6, 2008

Patty Griffin - "Rain"

I adore Patty Griffin. She is one of the artists that inspires me to pick up my guitar and play. I am determined to find 15 minutes to play today. Inspired by the rain I see out my window, I chose this great song to share with you today.

June 5, 2008

Piles and Piles of Magazines

I had been thinking about posting this anyway, but this post on The Happiness Project blog inspired me to go ahead and do it.

How many magazines do you subscribe to? Are you able to keep up with them all, or do you end up with piles of them around the house? If you're like me, even the ones that have been read often don't immediately make their way into the recycling bin. This is one source of clutter that needs to be tamed. Here's what I'm doing:

1. Eliminate some subscriptions. I have already convinced K to eliminate some of his subscriptions, so now it's my turn. I used to like reading Self. It's a good magazine - great for bringing to the beach or reading outside on a sunny day. However, I don't have time for it anymore, and I think perhaps I've outgrown its demographic. (All the health and beauty tips are starting to sound familiar at this point.) Also, I received several free subscriptions when ordering various baby items. At the time, I thought, "Sure, why not, free magazines", but now I know better. I think I'll keep Parenting and Wondertime - I like them, and they contain interesting articles, particularly on child development and learning. But Cookie and FamilyFun simply make me feel bad about myself, because I don't have time to make homemade window decorations or to cut my sandwiches to look like cute little animals. Perhaps if I wasn't working outside the home, these would be more valuable resources to me, and maybe I'll like them more when the little boy is a few years older, but I think I'll pass for now. Lastly, Bon Appetit must go. I love looking at the beautiful pictures of fancy food, but I rarely actually use their recipes. They are all available online anyway. Once I cancel all of these, I think I may actually be able to keep up.

2. Work through the backlog. In some cases, this may mean throwing away unread magazines, and that's okay. My biggest project is to review all my Cooking Light magazines to pull out all the recipes I may want to make one day and put them in my recipe binder. I'm almost done. I am also going to start recycling any magazines from the prior month, whether they've been read or not. If we haven't read them in a month, chances are we aren't going to catch up.

3. Store them out of sight. Or at least designate a place for them that eliminates the clutter effect. I do have a few on our side table in the living room, but that spot is for the ones I want to read next. K's This Old House magazines will be immediately stored in a magazine storage box in the office. I don't mind one or two in the bathroom, but I'm going to designate a spot in a vanity drawer for them, so I don't have to read the cover of the same magazine for weeks.

June 4, 2008

Yellow, Kitchen Help, and Visitors

This Week's Three Beautiful Things:

1. I ask the little boy, what color is the dandelion? "Yeyow", he says. That's right! Yellow. What color is your shirt? "Yeyow." No, it's not, it's blue. "Yeyow", he insists, with a devilish grin. He knows it's blue.

2. K gets home from work after the little boy has gone to sleep, and he immediately starts loading the dishwasher. He finishes that, cleans the counter, and then asks, "Anything else?"

3. My sister sent me a note containing her flight confirmation - she's coming to visit next month.

The Great Tomato Experiment

As I've mentioned before, my mom is a skilled gardener. We have always had a garden. Our house in NY had space for a pretty large garden, and most of our fruits and vegetables were home-grown. We had a couple years in an apartment when we first moved to NC - that must've been tough for Mom. But once we moved into our NC house - the house where my mom still lives - another garden was planted. It has pretty much taken over the back yard at this point.

Okay, anyway....my point is that my mom is a gardener. And I am not. I don't know how I grew up not picking up this skill, but I didn't. My little sister seems to have it - pretty quickly after moving back to our hometown and buying a house of her own, she started planting a garden and suddenly new the names of all sorts of plants and flowers. Looks like she has the gift.

I now have a house of my own, and we've at least done enough landscaping to include some new flowers and bushes. I don't know the names of most of them, which exasperates my mom, but I'm trying. I'm now going to try something more daring: tomatoes. There is no comparison between a fresh tomato and one bought in a store. If I grow nothing else, I'd love to have a few tomatoes and some basil. My older sister sent me a packet of seeds, and I also picked up a couple seedlings from the farm up the road. Here's what they looked like about a week or two ago:

I'm going to let you follow along on my adventure to grow tomatoes. I am nervous. When I asked my husband how many we thought we'd get in our first year, he said "nine". Well, I guess I'd be happy with nine. But my mom got frustrated with my pessimism and said I needed to be more optimistic. I'm working on that. Wish me luck!

June 3, 2008

This Week's Organizing: Medicine Cabinets, Car

This week's organizing project started with the medicine cabinets. I took 10 minutes to look at the expiration dates on everything in our bathrooms, and I came away with a surprisingly-full bag of stuff. How on earth could we still have a bottle of aspirin that's 10 years beyond expiration?!? That means it's gone through at least three moves! Sad. Anyway, it's now an empty bottle in the recycle bin. Unfortunately, my husband found the stash of stuff getting thrown away/recycled and chose to "save" a few items. Sigh. It's tough when your partner isn't as ruthless as you want to be about organizing. So a few things ended up back in the cabinets, but I made good progress regardless.

My next project (yes! two in one week!) was to clean out the car. I eat breakfast in the car, so there were empty bottles and cereal bar wrappers. Lots of CD cases and mis-matched CDs strewn about. And the entire back seat was full of books, toys, and other distractions for the boy. Steps I took:
1. Clean out the trash.
2. Take out all CD cases, and put a selection of CDs into a travel CD case.
3. Put a small storage box in the floor in the back seat. Use this to keep toys and books for the boy.
What an improvement!

June 2, 2008

Apple Cake

During Saturday's rainy naptime, I decided to use up a few apples I picked up from the sale rack at the farm. Four perfectly good apples for 49 cents! I also had some cream cheese in the fridge, so I chose this Apple Cake recipe. I accidently put a little too much sugar in it, so it was a little sweet, but it was very good nonetheless. The cream cheese gives it a nice, moist texture. It would be perfect for a brunch. K and I will enjoy it for breakfast this week.

Surprise Saturday

Sometimes it's nice when the weather people get it wrong. They were predicting a totally rainy weekend. I was braced for a wet and dreary Saturday, and since K was taking the car in for service, it meant being stuck inside all day. Not necessarily a bad thing if you can relax and hang out, but I've learned that it is pretty miserable to be stuck inside all day with a little kid who wants to do nothing but go outside. So I was dreading Saturday.

I woke up Saturday morning to bright and warm sunshine. Oh, and the boy let us sleep in until 7:30! My gosh that's a good start to the weekend. We spent all morning outside, playing in the yard, swinging, taking walks, planting... (The little boy loves picking up dirt, filling up containers, and dumping them out. He also occasionally gets a little silly, as shown below.)

On one of our walks, we ventured up to our local fire station. Since A adores trucks, I thought I'd show him the fire truck. A fireman came out and invited us in, let us sit inside the truck, touch the ladder/boots/etc, and then he gave A a fireman's hat and coloring book. What a fun surprise! I think that will be a regular stop from now on.

The rain eventually did move in - soothing summer thunderstorms, right in time for naptime.

June 1, 2008

This Week's Menu

For inspiration for this week's menu, I looked in my fridge to identify a few items that needed to be used up.

The first thing I found was a partially-used jar of red currant jelly. Since I can't remember why I ever bought red currant jelly in the first place, it's probably time to use it up. The second thing I noticed was that I have two containers of horseradish. And the third was a jar of pesto. I've made the chicken cakes and ziti before, but the pork chops are a new one for us. Here's what I came up with:

Spicy Chicken Cakes with Horseradish Aioli
Mashed sweet potatoes
Roasted asparagus

Pan-Seared Pork Chops with Red Currant Sauce
Rice Pilaf

Baked Ziti with Spinach and Tomatoes


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