April 30, 2010

Fill in the Blank Friday: Movies

Images from imdb

Here's another installment of Fill in the Blank Friday.  This one is movie-based, and once again I will struggle to come up with superlatives - my favorite of all-time?  Too hard.  After last week's music-themed post, I kept thinking of bands I should have included or concerts I should have mentioned.  I'm sure that will be the case again this week.  But I'll just answer in stream of consciousness fashion and see where it takes me.  Just know that if I wrote this next week my answers would no doubt be completely different.  I'm sure you understand.

1.  My absolute favorite movie of all time is      I've stared at this long enough.  Depends on my mood, truly.  "It's a Wonderful Life" during the holidays.  "Casablanca" or "When Harry Met Sally" when I'm feeling romantic.    .

2.  My favorite movie as a child was        Hm.  Well, the movies I watched over and over as a kid were Ghostbusters and Sixteen Candles    .

3.  The best movie quote ever is      It's not the best ever, certainly, but I could stare at this one forever.  Also, I'm not a man and cannot quote movies quite like they can.  I think we can all agree that's a typically male trait, right?    The quote that immediately leapt to mind is from "Dodgeball".  Pepper Brooks (Jason Bateman):  "Usually you pay double for that kind of action, Cotton."  Jason Bateman's character totally made that movie for me.  Cracks me up!  "Effin' A, Cotton, Effin' A!"      .

4.  My favorite actress is      Kate Winslet.      My favorite actor is    I've been staring at this a while now too.  Morgan Freeman is an excellent choice.  Here's who leaps to mind:  Ewan McGregor, Johnny Depp, Russell Crowe is great but would I call him a favorite?, Matt Damon, Ethan Hawke, Ed Norton!  Ah yes, I think we'll go with Ed.     .

5.  The movie I could watch over and over is     "Bull Durham".  I'm a baseball fan, and this is my favorite baseball movie.  Endlessly quotable.   Also..."Pride and Prejudice" and "Sense and Sensibility".  Gotta love a good period piece every now and then, especially if I'm in the mood for a good happy cry.  The ending of "Sense and Sensibility" where Emma Thompson's character finds out that Hugh Grant isn't married?  I sob buckets of tears of joy.  every. single. time.  .

6.  My favorite movie genre is       Indie.  I like all kinds, but I think I especially like unique and quirky movies.   Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.  Garden State.  Little Miss Sunshine.  Sideways.   .

7.  A movie I'd like to watch this weekend is      "An Education".   Not sure my husband's up for it though.  Maybe.  We'll see.     .

Catherine Feeny - Mr. Blue

This week's music pick:  Catherine Feeny.  Would you believe she just moved to Portland?  Seriously, that city must be a magnet for singer/songwriters.  The above video is from her last album, "Hurricane Glass".  She has a new one coming out in June, called "People in the Hole."  Check out her website for a listen to the title track.
image via last.fm

April 29, 2010

Kitchen Inspiration: North Shore Cape

*Image from Apartment Therapy

I don't think I could do without upper cabinets - my dishes just aren't that pretty, but I do love how it opens up the room.  I love the simplicity of this kitchen.  It's not that big, and yet it feels like enough space. 

Yep, there are the always-necessary lemons!

Ecofriendly Doormats

The ropes used by Maine lobstermen were trapping whales, so they've been banned.  But!  They are putting the old ropes to good use by making these durable and super-cute doormats.  Good for the environment, good for the whales, good for the lobstermen.  I love the colors.  Another reason to wish I had a beach house.

Found at Daytrip Society.

April 28, 2010

April Showers...

...bring lovely flowers.  The awful floods we've had here in the Northeast only seem to have made the flowers more beautiful.  The tulips and hyacinth are the current stars in our yard.  The lilacs are coming, and the rhododendrons will come after that.   I hope you don't mind...I just wanted to fill my blog with loveliness this morning.  

April 26, 2010

Happy Weekend

I had another one of those weeks last week.  The little boy got sick, then I got sick, then the big boy got sick.  The dishwasher broke.  And I won't even begin to tell you what's going on at work.  Not a good week.  And yet, as I was driving to preschool on Friday to pick up my sick boy, I felt happy.  Content.  The sunshine and the good music and the wind in my hair...that all helped.  But I think I just recognized that the annoying stuff going on right now doesn't come close to outweighing all the fabulousness I have in my life.  So I brought my boys home, cuddled with a feverish Aaron a while, played with the little boy a while, and then hugged Kevin, who came home early from a trip. 

We proceeded to have a good weekend.  The big boy's fever went away, and although I'm still not feeling great, we had lots of time to play outside.  It was opening day for little league, so we had the happy sounds of little boys playing baseball in our back yard.  I love that.  I also love all the gorgeous flowers that are blooming right now.  All the neighbors were out in their yards, mowing and cleaning and chatting.  And the boys got to play.  Riding bikes, swinging on swings.  Dinner on the grill.  Oh, and a visit from some family.  Happy days. 

Hope you all had a lovely weekend too!

The big boy doesn't eat when he's sick.  So I made him happy and gave him some ice cream.  He loves it maybe as much as I do.

Happy Birthday, Sweetie.

Menu of the Week

*Image from Cooking Light

Here's a bit of what I'm cooking this week:

Chicken and Vegetable Curry - One of my go-to meals when I need to clean out the fridge.  Cut up some chicken and whatever vegetables you have on hand (This week I had a red pepper, potato, onion, snap peas, and carrot), cook in a skillet for a few minutes until chicken is browned (or leave chicken out to go vegetarian), stir in 3-4 tablespoons of curry paste, then a can of coconut milk.  Bring to boil, then turn down heat and simmer for 25 minutes.  Serve over rice.  So easy and so yum. 

Spinach and Ricotta-Stuffed Shells - This is a little high-maintenance for me, but it makes a lot.  I cooked enough last night to have leftovers one other night this week, and I also froze half of the assembled shells, so I'll have another dinner or two in the freezer!  It's worth the effort to get 3-4 meals. 

Fish Tacos, Cabbage Slaw, Black Beans - This is a frequent request of my husband, so I thought it'd be a good choice for his birthday. 

April 23, 2010

Fill in the Blank Friday

I thought I'd do another Fill-in-the-blank Friday.  This one appeals to me, because it's focused on music, but it's also really really hard.  I always have a hard time when people ask me my favorite anything, but especially music.  But I'll give it a shot.

1.  One song that always takes me back to my youth is   "Save a Prayer" by Duran Duran.  I could name a bunch more - Madonna, Michael Jackson, The Bangles, Pat Benatar and on and on...but Duran Duran was a pure deep love .

2.  My first concert ever was  Cinderella and Whitesnake - yes, I went through a big-hair arena rock phase.  It was junior high.  Don't judge .

3.  If I could create my dream music festival I'd want these bands to be there:        Right now I'd say...Pearl Jam, Patty Griffin, Muse, The Black Keys, Ben Harper, Crooked Still, Dave Matthews Band, Susan Tedeschi, Wilco, Neko Case, Ryan Adams, Alison Krauss (Okay, so it's a bit eclectic, but these are the great performers that came to mind.)   .

4.  The best make-out/"boot knocking" song ever is   Wow.  This is a really hard one. I'm not really a music in the bedroom kind of girl either.    I think perhaps I'll go with a little Frank (Sinatra, that is).  And then something more chill, like Azure Ray, or perhaps something without lyrics .

5.  The best concert I've ever been to was          Oh this is too hard too!   Can't pick just one.  Can't.  I loved seeing Dave Matthews Band perform at a frat party before they hit it big.  Susan Tedeschi is fabulous.   Sitting outside with a beer watching Pearl Jam was pretty fabulous too.  I loved going to clubs and watching bands.  K's Choice comes to mind.  Juliana Hatfield.  I'm sorry.  Don't make me choose   .

6.  A memorable musical moment for me was   Singing around a campfire with my family.  I have a large extended family with some very talented guitar players and lots of great singers.  Some of my best childhood memories are from our family reunions, and singing around the campfire was a highlight every time .

7.  The song on my iPod that's getting the most play these days is   "Devil's Spoke" by Laura Marling.  Fabulous recent discovery.  

Five Senses Friday

*Image from Tartelette, a beautiful and inspiring food blog

- Tulips!  Yellow, white, pink, purple, red.  Lots of other flowers, too, but tulips are the star of the show this week.
- A clean dining room table.  It makes all the difference in the world to have an uncluttered room.

- Strawberries.  Lots and lots of fresh strawberries.  Think I'll splurge on some pound cake and whipped cream this weekend and highlight the berries.  It feels like it's time for strawberry shortcake.  Maybe I'll get ambitious and make some from scratch.  Oooh, or maybe it's time for the tart!
- Dim Sum.  I went more for the fun, the experience, the conversation.  But it tasted good too!

- The little boy's soft, warm hands.  I think he got those from his dad.  I can imagine him holding hands with a girl some day, and she will adore his soft warm hands.  Maybe almost as much as I do.
- My cold spoon and cold mug, as I eat ice cream.  every. single. night.

- Birds chirping in the bushes
- The big boy singing in the back seat, while I pretend not to listen

- Hyacinth in our back yard.  You can smell them from a mile away.  Intoxicating.  Finally - it smells like Spring too!
- Pancakes cooking.  Always better to get up when the kitchen smells like pancakes.

*Speaking of strawberries, how do you like the big boy's "long rainbow hair"?

Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson - Rattlin' Bones

I can't believe I haven't posted a song from this album yet.  It's one of my favorites.  Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson, Rattlin' Bones.  This album is great turned up really loud so you can sing along.  My favorite is probably "Devil's Inside My Head", although I really love every song.  The video above is a performance of the title track.

Happy Friday!
image via Minnesota Public Radio (courtesy the artists)

April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day! Barefoot Books

*Image from Barefoot Books

Happy Earth Day everyone!  You know, I wish Earth Day was more of a holiday than, say, Valentine's Day.  What is Valentine's Day anyway?  There are so many fun ways to celebrate Earth Day.  I've posted about Barefoot Books before, but it's worth doing again.  They are a fabulous bookseller in Cambridge, and I adore their books.  So does the big boy.  In fact, he very often chooses their books at the library.  Something about the illustrations definitely appeals to him.

Barefoot Books has a number of environmentally-focused books that would be good for any little one in your life.  Check out their collection here.  I especially love the sing-along books with music CDs.  We've been fortunate enough to get several in our local library, and we enjoy them immensely.

If you're interested, they also have a list of activities to accompany their books, a wonderful podcast on iTunes, and a couple videos as well.

A Look Back: March/April 2009

*I still enjoy a good tickle session. 

Now that I've been blogging for a while, I sometimes enjoy taking a look back at what I was writing about the previous year.  It's especially fun to look at how my family has grown, but it's also interesting to see how I tend to go through the same cycles in terms of focusing on the best parts of each season.  Here's a bit of what I was posting about last Spring:

A post from The Happiness Project regarding Lighthearted Parenting - Good reminders to read again.  I'm finding that the terrible twos weren't so bad, but three is more of a challenge for me.  I have to remind myself to stay calm and maintain a lighthearted approach to momming.  

"Your toddler will do what they need to do, and not necessarily what you say. If you're patient, then they will be patient. If you speak gently, then they will be gentle. Whatever you want them to be, you have to start becoming." -Helen Hunt
Perception is Reality?  A reminder that what you read and see on people's blogs is a reflection of their very best.  It doesn't illustrate the real, sometimes ugly, truth.  I still sometimes catch myself in the comparison trap.  It's natural.  But I fight it with all I've got.

Organizing Projects - A great list of things to do.  In fact, I need to do a lot of them again.  I should probably come up with this year's list.  You guys help keep me honest.  

I Love Boston - This describes reason #8:  Seasons.  

Big-boy Room - Wow, was it only a year ago that the big boy moved into his new room?  Feels like forever.

Belly Shot - Also crazy to think that I was this pregnant just a year ago.  It's now hard to imagine life without the little boy.  
*These lovely flowers are currently in bloom, and they make the front of our house look so nice.

April 21, 2010

Flowers for Mom

On the way home tonight, the big boy announced that he wanted to pick some flowers for me.  He got himself out of the car - so proud that he can do that by himself now - and ran into the yard.  He proceeded to pick every dandelion he could, and he threw in a few unknown tiny purple flowers too.  Then he presented them to me.  We brought them inside, put them in a vase, and he wanted to put them next to the tulips on the dining room table.  (Don't you love it when tulips reach that floppy phase?)  I must say, I adore that tiny little dandelion bouquet.  

Fast Rides, Green Beans, and Puffy Clouds

*Image via i can read

This week's Three Beautiful Things:

1.  School vacation week means no traffic.  I'm enjoying the quick ride to work. 

2.  After at least 89 failed attempts, the big boy ate most of his green beans at dinner.  No discussion, no cajoling....it was as though he's always liked them. 

3.  Spring's blue skies have finally arrived, and the past few days have been dotted with high, white, puffy clouds.  The kind that make you look up and think of cotton balls.  The big boy pointed a couple out, saying "Look Mom, that one looks like a turtle.  And that one looks like a princess." 

Photos of the Day

I realized I neglected to post a few pics from Easter weekend.  How silly of me.  Missing an opportunity to show off the amount of gorgeousness in my life.  It was a lovely weekend, with a trip to the playground and the requisite egg hunt.  (I won't mention the tummy ache that resulted from the candy, though.)  A nice visit from mom/sister-in-law.  Lunch cooked on the grill and eaten in the sunshine.  All in all, a nice couple of days.

April 20, 2010

City Prints

I love these city prints.  I keep finding all these fun prints, and of course I won't buy most of them.  Maybe not even any of them.  But it doesn't mean I can't enjoy looking.  I do love Boston - it is home to me and my boys.  If I ever moved away from Boston, I would certainly have to take a piece of it with me.  But I don't see myself going anywhere.  This is home.  I love the little pop of red in this print, and I could see it going really nicely in a white kitchen. 

April 19, 2010

Our Amazing Planet

This gorgeous planet of ours can do some awesome things.  I assume you've all heard about the volcano that erupted in Iceland last week, causing flight cancellations across Europe.  Take a look at some of the photos.  Simply stunning...

*All images from Boston.com

Spring Pasta

*Image from Martha Stewart

Ah, the flavors of Spring.  Finally!  After months of stews and chilis and root vegetables, I'm always so excited to transition to lighter and greener foods.  When local asparagus hits the shelves, I know Spring is truly here.  I thought I'd share a few of the Spring pasta dishes I enjoy:

Pasta Primavera - This is my favorite.  I make it once or twice each Spring.  Easy, yummy, healthy.  Use whole-wheat pasta to make it even healthier if you want. 

Pasta with Goat Cheese and Roasted Asparagus - Five ingredients.  So easy and so yummy.

Linguini with Spring Vegetables - Continuing with the cream and asparagus combination, but the addition of tarragon sets this one apart.

Pasta Verde - I haven't tried this one yet, but it's on the list.  I think this one needs a warm sunny Spring day and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

April 16, 2010

Fill in the Blank Friday

I am a sucker for these little follow-along blog games we play.  The Little Things We Do has a series entitled "Fill in the blank Fridays".  I decided to play today.  Here goes...

1.  The first thing I do in the morning is     hit the snooze button (Lauren, you're not alone!).  After that, straight to the shower  .

2.  Every night before bed  I     read.  Even if it's just for a few minutes, I love ending the day with a good book .

3.  My favorite thing to do when I'm having a bad day is      call one of my sisters.  They're awesome at listening to me vent.  Next up:  open a bottle of wine  .

4.  Something that makes me cringe is     bad grammar.  Both my parents were very focused on it, especially my dad.  Words that really aren't words, like supposebly and irregardless.  Pronouncing the 't' in often.  Drives me crazy, especially when I see bad grammar in kids' books    .

5.  Social situations    are fun once I'm there, but I have to push myself to get out there.  I'm not a naturally social person   .

6.  I like to collect      nothing.  I'm not a collector.  I donate bags of stuff every other month or so in an effort to rid my house of unnecessary things   .

7.  Weekends are for      spending time with my boys, playing outside, watching a movie, seeing friends, and relaxing!    

Horse Feathers

My latest music discovery:  Horse Feathers.  I just purchased their latest CD, entitled Thistled Spring.   It's great.  Here's a free download of one of the songs from this album, called Belly of June.   You can also of course take a look at the video above, which is a song called Curs in the Weeds, from their last album.

The band is from Portland, Oregon.  (What is it with Portland?  So much of the music I love seems to come from here.)  I love the combination of guitar, violin, and cello, and the lyrics are lovely.  Dark, but lovely.
image via last.fm

April 15, 2010

Thought of the Day

*Thanks to Erin at Perfect Sentiment for this!

It can sometimes be uncomfortable to ask ourselves these questions.  But we must.  We only have one life.  I promise to strive to find and savor the joy in each day.  How about you?

The Hurt Locker

I don't see too many movies these days, so when I see one I really like, I feel compelled to share.  We recently watched The Hurt Locker, and let's just say that it was very deserving of its Best Picture Oscar.   It's very intense, but it's captivating.  One of those movies where you forget you're watching a movie, because you're so engrossed by the characters.  Definitely recommend seeing it.

April 14, 2010

Traveling with Kids

*Images from Amazon.com

I know there are lots of tips out there about ways to make traveling with kids easier, and I also know that what works for some kids won't work for others, but I enjoy getting ideas and reminders by reading lists such as these.  We were traveling with an infant and a 3-year-old.  Here are some of the tips I'd share from our recent traveling experience:

1.  Do your best to reserve flights at convenient times in your child's schedule.  Mornings are usually best.  Allow yourself more time than you think you'll need.  Everything takes longer with kids.  If you're dealing with longer flights or inconvenient times, try to plan your "schedule" ahead of time so you know how you're going to manage things like naps and mealtimes. 

2.  If possible, buy your baby a seat.  It's the safest way to fly.  However, I know it's not always possible, and we sometimes just keep our fingers crossed for an empty seat on the plane.  When we don't get a seat for our babies, we use a flight vest.  Just a little peace of mind.  If it's so important that we all wear our seat belts, especially during takeoff and landing, why would we let our babies go unprotected? 

3.  It doesn't hurt to ask.  My husband steered us towards the front of the security line and asked the attendant if we could go ahead.  Our flight was getting ready to board, and I tried to look as pitiful as possible, managing our kids and stroller and carry-ons.  The agent let us through.  It doesn't always work, but it never hurts to ask. 

4.  Board last.  If you are dealing with a car seat, and there are two of you traveling, you may want to send one in ahead to get the seat set up.  Otherwise, minimize the amount of time you have to keep your kids sitting in their seats.

5.  Pack extra clothes.  Babies poop, and accidents happen.  You do not want to get caught in an airplane with a baby covered in poo and nothing else for him to wear. 

6.  Extra pacifiers.  And although I personally don't like the little pacifier clips, it would probably be a very handy thing to have on an airplane.  Those little suckers are hard to find when they fall underneath the seats.

7.  Get a small backpack.  I happened to have a little backpack that the big boy could use, so he packed his stuffed penguin and a few other favorite items to carry on.  He liked having his own bag to carry, and it gave me a little extra room in my own carry-on. 

8.  Pack lots of diversions, and break them out one at a time and only as necessary to stretch them for as long as possible.  Remember to keep a stash set aside for dinners and the ride home.  Items that kept our 3-year-old entertained:

  • Hands-down the best item we brought:  Puzzlebuzz magazine, by Highlights.  It's targeted for kid's 4-7, so some of the pages were a little too hard for the big boy, but he loves the hidden pictures, and loves all the sticker activities.  It isn't especially cheap, but it was sooooooo worth it. 
  • Books!  I bought several new books - paperback and/or thin, such as little golden books.  Bringing a few favorites is always good as well.
  • Magnadoodle
  • Mini play scene sticker set, such as this one or this one.
  • Mini-coloring book and small zipper bag with a few crayons. I like these mini twistable ones - they are a little easier to hang on to and they don't break!  (We just brought 4 or 5 with us.)
  • Snacks.  Sometimes a bag of bunny grahams will go just as far as a book to keep your kid occupied, and it's always good to remember that kids often get cranky when they're hungry and that the onboard options are usually lacking.  Be prepared with items you know your child likes.

9.  Bring your sense of humor and adventure.  This is undoubtedly the most important reminder.  It is not easy traveling with kids, but you have to be prepared and stay calm.  Your kids pick up on your moods - If you are stressed, they will be too.  But if you're waiting in a really long line and can laugh and play with your kids at the same time, they'll see that it's all a part of the adventure of travel!

April 13, 2010

Highlights from the Great Escape

So much love in one little hammock.

Some thoughts and tidbits from our recent trip.  Just some highlights that I want to remember as I look back at our time in Puerto Rico.

- "Well, the only way I can seat you together is to put you towards the front of the plane in our extended leg-room section."  Oh, darn.  :-)  Sometimes running a little late pays off.

- "Mom, look at all the doughnuts in the palm trees!"  "You mean coconuts, honey."  "Right.  Doughnuts." 

- Since we were traveling with our little ones, we reserved a one-bedroom suite, and we were a little disappointed we couldn't utilize our hotel points.  However, I guess the points ended up paying off.  We walked into an enormous suite, with two bedrooms and two full bathrooms upstairs, and a living room downstairs.  Awesome!

- The kids were awesome on both flights.  Expect another post soon about some of the items that worked for us to keep our 3-year-old entertained. 

- We continued to prove the theory that any restaurant is kid-friendly in the early-evening hours.  Our first night, we went to Morton's.  No crayons or chicken tenders in sight, and it was still very successful.  The big boy and I split a lobster tail, mashed potatoes, and broccoli. 

- The little boy was very flexible.  He took his morning nap in his stroller while we played on the beach.  (LOVE this stroller, by the way.  Light, super easy to recline, easy to fold, comfy for the little guy....love it.)

- On the second day, we found a great place for lunch and just kept going back.  Great local feel, good food, good beer, very friendly service. 

- Puerto Rico is one of those places where lots of the women want to tell you how beautiful your baby is and then say "God bless him".  We received so many smiles and blessings.
- An image I want to keep in my head:  The big boy and K running like crazy people around the playground.  Flapping their arms, pretending to be birds.  Hiding from each other behind palm trees.  Giggling hysterically. 

The big boy said his favorite part was playing in the sand.
It's hard to tell what the little boy's  favorite part was - he is always smiling!


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