May 28, 2010

Quote of the Day

I love this picture of Natalie - so bright and happy.  

What makes a person beautiful, or handsome as the case may be?  Sure there are the purely aesthetically beautiful people, like Natalie and the other lovelies I'd included here in this post.  But haven't you found that one's personality and outlook has such a huge bearing on their beauty?  I've met some gorgeous people who are downright ugly and, more frequently thank goodness, some people who you might not look twice at who turn out to be the most beautiful.  Optimism, friendliness, humor, confidence...these all play such a huge part in how we're viewed by others.  Don't really know what got me thinking about this today - perhaps it was the quote below that found its way to my inbox, perhaps it was the extending web of wrinkles around my eyes...

I hope you all have a beautiful weekend.  I have a nice long one to look forward to, and the forecast contains lots of warm sunshine.  Hooray!  A family gathering with the in-laws and lots of playing outside.  I'm thinking it's time to put the Sangria pitcher to good use.  

Those eyes...!!!

"Nothing makes a woman more beautiful than the belief she is beautiful." - Sophia Loren

*Images found via its mary ruffle and we heart it

She and Him - In the Sun

She and Him - a fun sound created by Zooey Deschanel (who doesn't love her?) and an Indie musician M. Ward.  Just poppy and fun music that seems like it was made for sunny days.  If you watch the video above, be sure to watch to the end.  My favorite part is the little hop she does as she's walking away.  Love it.

May 27, 2010

Kitchen Inspiration

*Images via Apartment Therapy via Bliss

I've said before that I couldn't do open shelves due to my lack of pretty dishes and organizing skills.  But I do love the openness it brings to the room.  And I have some pretty dishes, and I try really hard to have organizing skills.  Maybe what we need is a combination.  Mostly regular cabinets, but with some open shelves mixed in.  I also like how the bottom of the cabinets make it look like furniture, but would all sorts of nastiness get caught under there and be impossible to clean?  Perhaps we need some trickery there.  Bottoms that looks like feet, but cabinets that don't go all the way back.  I like the green in this kitchen too.  I wonder what my husband thinks of green.  (He'll tell me as soon as he reads this.) 

Oh, I have so much fun looking at kitchens.  It often drives me crazy to think that it will be so long before we can finally renovate ours.  But I guess that gives me more time to get inspired.  By the time we are ready to go, we should know exactly what we want. 


May 26, 2010

Kayaks, Asparagus, and the Smell of Vacation

This week's Three Beautiful Things:

1.  A couple mornings ago, I spotted a solitary kayaker in the middle of a lake.  It was a warm morning, perfect for being on the water.  The sun sparkled on the water's surface, and despite the noise all around me, the whole world was silent for just a moment. 

2.  I am still enjoying good, fresh asparagus, and I'm so excited that the big boy will eat it now too.  My favorite way to prepare?  Roasted, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt.  Yum.

3. The smell of sunscreen on the boys in the morning makes me think of vacation instead of the fact that I'm headed to work.

Looking Past the Children's Menu

I read this article in the NY Times yesterday.  It's essentially an interview with a restaurant owner, but he talks about how important the family time associated with having dinner is to him.  He has vowed never to have a kid's menu at his restaurant, and he has always made his kids try new things.  The article struck close to home. 

I have always complained about children's menus.  Although they can be convenient and less expensive, can't they come up with something a bit more imaginative than chicken fingers?  I don't like to be wasteful, but they could also at least offer some real fruit or vegetable.  Some kids actually do eat fruits and veggies.  Or perhaps offer a smaller version of regular menu items. 

When we went on vacation to Puerto Rico, it was a challenge to find decent food for the big boy, but the best meals he had were at restaurants without a children's menu.  We went to Morton's, and he split a lobster tail, broccoli, and mashed potatoes with me.  Now that's a meal!  As my husband and I like to say, the presence of a children's menu is not what makes a restaurant kid-friendly.  Any restaurant can be kid-friendly at 5:30.  Morton's didn't have crayons or plastic cups or even small plates, but they had no problem serving us, and we enjoyed a nice meal. 

It's interesting how everyone has a different philosophy about food.  I am sure it goes back to the way we were raised.  I very clearly remember holding my nose while taking my required "just one bite" of beets.  Man, I hated beets!  But now I'm happy my mom made me try them.  I am determined to avoid having super picky kids, and of course I want them to be healthy, so I work really hard to provide a good variety of foods.  Sometimes the big boy gobbles it up; sometimes he crosses his arms and looks at me like I'm crazy.  Usually it's somewhere in-between.  My rule is that he just has to try everything on his plate.  If he doesn't like it, he doesn't have to finish it.  Every night is different, but I just keep trying.  It's not easy, but we've made a ton of progress, and now my three-year-old is eating a pretty wide variety of foods.  I am confident that he'll grow up to enjoy different tastes and textures; and even if he doesn't appreciate it now, I am also confident he'll grow up to thank me for having him try.

All of these pictures are from last Summer.  It was a vacation week at home with my sister and brother-in-law visiting, and we were particularly adventurous in our cooking.  We had lots of really great meals.  In the second picture, the big boy is excited about mussels!  That one surprised me.  He was fascinated by the lobster, as we all were.  I've found that involving him in the preparation really helps, too.  He's so much more likely to want to try something after he's helped prepare it.  

May 25, 2010

I Need a Dress...

...but I hate shopping.  Ugh.  My sister's wedding is in July, and I need something to wear.  I had planned on wearing something I already own, but I am just not excited about anything that's currently in my closet.  The two real contenders - one red, one pewter - just don't feel summery enough for a July wedding in North Carolina.  So I've been searching around the internet, trying to get inspired.  I would love something with a little color to it, maybe a little something that makes it feel like summer.  Why is that so hard to find?  I am thinking I may actually have to go into a store.  The thought makes me cringe.

I saw a few dresses at Anthropologie that perhaps show a little promise.

This looks so cute, but the reviews seem to indicate that the material is heavy, so maybe not great for a hot July wedding?

I love the bright color.  I won't be able to stand next to my mom in pictures, because her dress has a blue pattern, but that's alright.  This is perhaps my leading contender so far.

This one looks like it would be so comfortable, but I think it actually looks like something my little sister (the one getting married) would look great in.  Hm.

What do you think?

Looking for a Side Dish?

There are many benefits to blogging, and I've learned and discovered lots of fun new things via this web community in which we're all members.  One of the benefits is discovering new recipes.  I've stumbled across several now that have made the regular rotation in our house.  Remember Stephmodo's Southwestern Salad?  It is one of our summertime favorites. 

Joslyn at Raising Foodies had a post about the "best potatoes she had ever eaten", so naturally I was intrigued and decided to give them a try.  She wasn't lying.  These things are gooood.  And I don't even think I did a great job of making them!  My potatoes were a little on the large side and so probably could've used a couple more minutes, and when she says "be generous" with the feta and rosemary - be generous.  Truly, though, these potatoes are easy and so good.  We enjoyed them this weekend with some grilled chicken and roasted asparagus.  The big boy asked for seconds and completely cleared his plate!  Unheard of.  So next time you're looking for a side dish or a different approach to potatoes, give this a try.  You won't regret it. 

May 24, 2010


I hope you all had a great weekend.  We ventured in to Boston to attend an outdoor music festival on the Esplanade, called EarthFest.  Years ago, my husband and I liked going to this event to picnic and watch bands perform at the Hatch Shell (a big outdoor amphitheater).  These days, we find ourselves parked in front of the family stage.  But that's cool.  This year's "headliner" on the kid's stage was a band we had actually seen before with the boys.  The big boy owns one of their CDs and therefore knows a lot of their songs, so it was a lot of fun to see them.  We got to shout out a request and dance around and sing. 

After the concert, we took a leisurely walk back to the car, venturing through Boston's Public Garden.  Since the big boy had listened to Make Way for Ducklings about a bazillion times, he was very interested to see the island where Mr. and Mrs. Mallard made their home.  It was a gorgeous day, and it was so nice to be able to just walk through the city.  As I mentioned to my husband, we don't do it often enough.  

May 21, 2010

Thought of the Day

*Image via fffound - no trackback

I loved this movie.  (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, in case you haven't seen it or didn't place the quote.)  I think it's probably a love it or hate it movie, but it was love for me.

Looks like the weather is going to hold out for the weekend, staying nice and mild.  I can't wait to play and run and dance!  There's nothing like having a three-year-old to motivate you to do those things.  We shouldn't need that, though, right?  So even if you don't have a young one ordering you to do so, I hope you find some time this weekend to play and run and dance.

Happy Friday!

Band of Horses - Compliment

Band of Horses is from Seattle and is sometimes compared to My Morning Jacket. Take a listen...

Happy music Friday!

May 20, 2010

This is made of Begonias?

I saw this on Bliss and had to share.  This square in Brussels looks like it would be an amazing place to visit any time of year, but seeing this gorgeous display of flowers would certainly be an added incentive.

May 19, 2010

Random Thoughts...

Here's a bit of what's been running through my head today...
  • A colleague told me today that I have a "dry" sense of humor.  What does this mean?  Is it a compliment?  He seemed to mean it as a compliment, and he likes me, so I took it as such, but I'm still wondering.  I think perhaps it's because he laughs at me even when I'm not trying to be funny.  I am okay with this.  
  • I think I actually prefer cream in my coffee.  I always use milk, because that's what we have, but cream is so decadent, isn't it?  Perhaps I should splurge on cream every now and then.  
  • I miss doing yoga.  The picture below kills me.  I want to do that.  I want my back to look like that.  I need to find time.  Don't you wish you could manufacture time?  
  • I am going to miss Lost.  
  • What should we do this weekend?  The only thing we have planned for sure is EarthFest on Saturday.  It's an outdoor music festival on Boston's Esplanade.  Looks like the weather will be awesome for it, and it's a great excuse to take the kids into the city.  Can't wait!  But what else?  Hmmmm...  

Sorry for the randomness, but that's the way my mind works sometimes.  What is on your mind today?

Decorating with Bookshelves

*Image from Design*Sponge

“I would be the most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.”
― Anna Quindlen
In my dream house, I have a library with large comfy chairs and floor to ceiling bookshelves.  Maybe even a ladder to reach the top.  Little reading nooks for the kids.  Maybe I'll never have that kind of library, but I still love looking at shelves and shelves of books.  I love this tumblr, and I love the "bookcase of the day" posts on i suwannee.  I know I should use my local library more, and I am starting to do so, but I also love having a house full of books.  There's so much you can tell about a person by looking at the books they read, don't you think?  Here are some favorites that I've stumbled across.  Hope you enjoy...
1) There's a good example of a fabulous ladder.  2) I like the tall but compartmentalized shelves, but mostly I like the space.  Looks like a great bed to snuggle up with a good book.  3)  Ditto.  I'd love to go to bed surrounded by my books.  (Other than the inevitable stack that accumulates on my nightstand.)  4) I don't think I could organize my books by color, but if I owned this many cookbooks, I think color would be the way to go.  
Here is my own office, with a display of a lot of our books.  There is also a full shelf stuck in a storage room.  Poor books without a home.  I love this room, but it's not exactly where I want it to be yet.  Those shelves still need a little something.  And it's a small room, but there should be enough room for a small but comfy chair and little side table.  Good for practicing my guitar....or reading a book.  
*Image from Design*Sponge
I like this corner.  I don't like the color of the chair, but with a little ottoman, something like this would fit my "small but comfy" requirement.  I also think I must have a globe.  
*Image from Ill Seen, Ill Said
I've seen lots of people organize by color, but I don't think I could ever do this.  I do love how it looks, though.  Mine are organized by general category (art/poetry, history/autobiographies, baseball, general fiction, etc.), which just feels right to me.  
*Images from Book Lovers Never Go to Bed Alone (top left and right), Sweet Paul (middle left), and Martha Stewart (bottom left)
1) (top left) - In a small space, covering your books with pretty paper would be a nice way to reuse as well as a cute way to incorporate books into the design of the room.  2) (right) Too modern for my taste (those chairs!), but I love the shelves - combination of vertical and horizontal books, pictures, art, and other items.  This is what my shelves need.  3) (bottom left) Yes, I know there are no books here, but I have struggled in the past to find a decent bookshelf.  I love the idea of stacking a few benches together.  4) (middle left)  I am not a crafty person, but even I could manage this one.  If I was a design person and could figure out where it would fit in my house, that is.  A set of brackets with an old book on top, making a cute little display shelf.  Nice!

May 18, 2010

Community Farm

I am lucky enough to have a working community farm within walking distance of our house.  It is a popular destination for my little ones.  This weekend was their annual Spring festival, so naturally the boys and I attended.  The weather was absolutely perfect, and we had a great time.  All the typical farm activities - petting areas, hay ride, rock painting, planting, and enjoying good food while being entertained by some local kids.  Awesome.  I just wish I had room in the stroller for some plants!

Photo of the Day

This one's for you, Sara.  The little guy gets compliments on his shoes everywhere we go.  ;-)

Menu of the Week

*Image from here

Kevin has been traveling quite a bit lately, and when it's just me and the boys for dinner, I stay pretty low-maintenance.  The big boy doesn't eat a whole lot of anything, and I am certainly not picky.  That said, I don't want to get too lazy, because I do want to provide a variety of foods to my kids.  Usually I'm able to put together a menu of super easy meals and leftovers.  Ah leftovers, what would I do without you?  Here's what this week looks like:

Grilled Chicken and Pesto Sandwiches, Chips

Seared Scallops, Lemon Spaghetti, Cucumber/Tomato Salad

"Breakfast for Dinner" - Using a little leftover sausage to make an omelette with sausage, green onions, and cheese.  Leftover potatoes and onions on the side.

Sauteed Chicken, Rice, Corn (*Probably the little boy's most-requested meal.)

May 17, 2010

Grumpy and happy...

Louise at Lou, Boos, and Shoes bestowed upon me a little "pass-it-on" blog challenge.  It entitles me to list some of the things that make me grumpy.  This means I'll have to break my blog's "no negativity" rule, but sometimes letting it out is a good thing, right?  Here goes...

1.  Messiness.  I am not so much bothered by dust on the picture frames or a cobweb in the corner as I am with a coat thrown over a dining room chair instead of hung in the closet.  

2.  Being late.  To anything, really, but especially the movies.  I hate walking in after the lights go down.  I am notoriously early to everything, although I'll admit that my kids now sometimes slow me down.  I can be a total crankpot when we're running late. 

3.  Judgment.  I try very hard to be a "live and let live" person, recognizing that everybody is different and every situation is different.  Women are especially prone to passing judgment on others, especially as it relates to the choices we make as mothers.  This drives me crazy. 

4. Lack of sleep.  I'm sure this one is pretty universal.  We all need to get enough sleep.  Of course, since I have a three-and-a-half year-old and a not quite one-year-old, I've been grumpy pretty often during the last several years.  Thankfully, their cuteness almost always counteracts the grumps. 

5.  Rude drivers.  Traffic in general doesn't bother me (unless I'm running late), but those drivers that simply must speed by everybody else to jam themselves up at the front of the line.....yeah, they piss me off. 

Okay, five grumpy things is enough.  Now on to the happy.  Louise didn't tag me for these, but I figure all the nasty things deserve to be balanced out.....or actually outnumbered by the happy things.  You don't mind, right?  This list could go on and on, so I'll just stick to the ones that leap to mind.

1.  Tickle sessions with my boys.  This is what counteracts the lack of sleep noted above.  Giggle-fests. 

2.  Traveling.  I haven't done as much as I'd like, but every trip I've been able to take has brought me such joy.  I adore going someplace I've never been, seeing how other people live, getting a taste of how big our world is. 

3.  My husband's warm hands. 

4.  Music.  It feeds my soul.  And whether it's the Boston Symphony Orchestra or Joni Mitchell or Ben Harper, I adore being inspired by inspired musicians.

5.  Snowstorms and rainstorms, when I have nowhere I need to be and can just cozy up in the house and enjoy them. 

6.  Ice cream.  Banana pancakes.  A sweet glass of red sangria.  A tomato pulled right off the vine and eaten like an apple.  My list of foods that make me happy would make your head spin. 

7.  Reading a book I can't put down.  There's something so comforting about curling up with a really good book and escaping from reality for a bit.  

8.  Being near the water.  On the beach, in a boat, on a dock...watching a sunset over the water is about as good as it gets. 

9.  Friends.  Of course.  Those friends whose connection never changes, no matter how long you go between conversations or visits. 

10.  Family gatherings.  Sometimes they can be a bit stressful, especially with too many people in a small house, but I wouldn't have it any other way.  Being surrounded by people you love is the best.  I am blessed to have a large extended family as well, and I am always so happy when I am able to spend time with them. 

You know, it just dawned on me that I've written this type of post before.  I went back and looked at my happy list, and sure enough, I think there's a lot of overlap there.  I guess it's good that I know what makes me happy. 

So now I must nominate five bloggers to forward this to.  I am going to suggest that they do the grumpy and the happy, because it's fun to see what makes people grumpy, but it's better to focus on what makes people happy.  Don't you think?  Let's see if these bloggers agree:

Sara @ Portland Sunshine
Lauren @ The Little Things We Do
Erin @ Perfect Sentiment
Sophie @ The Littlest Things
Lovely Little Things

*Note:  Can you tell I'm drawn to "lovely" "little" blogs?  ;-)
**Joni image from The Impossible Cool

May 14, 2010

The Avett Brothers - Laundry Room

I'm in a music groove lately.  Spending way too much time and money on iTunes, checking out bands I've never heard before.  I hope you don't mind my Friday video postings, because I enjoy doing them!

I am enjoying The Avett Brothers CD, I and Love and You.  The video above is great.  It starts slowly, so don't give up on it.  The CD is great too.  I love how they're described as "punkgrass" - a combination of punk rock and bluegrass.  They definitely have their roots in folk and bluegrass, but they seem to have too much energy for those genres alone.  They are from my own native North Carolina, and they look like they'd be a blast to see in concert.


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