October 29, 2010

Happy Halloween

For those of you out there that celebrate this silly holiday, have a happy and fun Halloween.  My big boy is so excited to don his cowboy get-up and ask people for candy!  I'm bracing myself for the inevitable sugar overload and the need to assume the chief of candy police role.  Nothing that a few Milky Ways can't help me through.  Happy weekend!

Bon Iver - For Emma

This week's music pick is Bon Iver.  This album is a couple years old, but if you haven't listened to their music, go check it out.  They're an indie folk band, founded by Justin Vernon.  The name, Bon Iver (or "good winter"), makes sense when you know they're based in Wisconsin.

October 28, 2010

Pins of the Week

Here are a few things I've spotted and loved this week (clockwise from left):

*Green Jacket - Another example of the style I'd love to have.  Seriously - any personal shoppers out there that want to stock my closet full of pretty clothes?
*New York - My sister lived in New York for a long time, and I used to go several times a year.  I've only been back a couple times since she moved to Barcelona, and I miss it.  I miss Thanksgivings in the city.  Fall in New England is the best, but it's pretty awesome in New York too.  Any chance you could move back, Sis?  Please?
*Michelle Williams - She's beautiful, and this picture is so soft and lovely.  
*Kate Spade handbag - I need a new purse.  I only own one at a time, so I need something high-quality and basic, that will go with anything in my wardrobe.  This is a contender.  
*Every Child is an Artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up. - Pablo Picasso 

These are just a few of the photos I've recently pinned on my pinboards at Pinterest Mary Loves

Kitchen Inspiration

via Sunset

Okay okay, we know what we want!  Can we just get started already?  Sigh... Kevin and I looked at the numbers and we're probably still a couple years away from doing the big renovation.  I have to figure out how to be patient until then, so I guess I'll continue to gaze longingly at kitchen pictures I love.

October 27, 2010

Wide-Plank Wood Floors, Clean Plates, and "Rainbow Trees"

Aren't these the perfect words to go with my Three Beautiful Things posts?  

This week's Three Beautiful Things:

1.  The old wide-plank wood floors in my bedroom creak and bounce a little when walked upon.  I love them.  They remind me of the other people who walked there before me.  

2.  The big boy asked, "How many bites do I have to eat?", purely out of habit.  He then proceeded to finish everything on his plate once he realized he actually liked the food.  A clean plate is a beautiful thing, especially when it was full of asparagus, potatoes, and haddock.  

3.  When driving the kids the other morning, the big boy looked at the trees lining a beautiful lake and exclaimed "Look Mom!  The trees are like a rainbow!  They're all the beautiful colors that I love!"  I've said it before and I'll say it again....there's nowhere better in the world to be than New England in the Fall.

October 26, 2010

Menu of the Week

Here's a bit of what I've been cooking lately...

Turkey Burgers with Zucchini and Carrot, Waffle Fries, Salad
*My sons and I really enjoyed these.  My meat-loving husband asked, accusingly, "Is this a veggie burger?", so perhaps it wasn't his favorite.  Very easy to make, though, and so much more moist than your typical turkey burger.  Plus the obvious bonus of reducing meat and eating more veggies.  We topped ours with cheddar and served on potato buns.  

Pork Chops, Cinnamon Apples, Salad

Creamy Fettuccine with Peas and Ham, Salad
*One of the all-time most kid-friendly meals I make.  Super easy and my husband and I like it too!

Baked Haddock, Roasted Potatoes/Portobello/Onions, Asparagus

Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
*Note to self:  Cooking Light is wonderful and has tons of great recipes, but I should steer clear of the cookies.  Trying to make them "light" means dry cookies.  I've had some winners, but for the most part, I've been disappointed.  Since I can afford a few extra calories and only rarely splurge on cookies, I should stick to the full-fat, full-calorie, full-sugar versions.  These got great reviews, so perhaps I just cooked them a bit too long?  Regardless, I was a bit disappointed. 

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread
*This is a great recipe.  Perfect for using up that one last zucchini in the fridge.  Perfect for keeping the big boy entertained on a dreary and cool Sunday afternoon.  Perfect for a sweet and yet not indulgent (even healthy!) breakfast.  The big boy loves this and was so excited to have it for breakfast with a big cup of cold milk and some strawberries.

October 25, 2010

Weekend Recap - the Yellow Edition

Something about this image I just adore.  This is another good example of the style I'd love to have.  Classic, understated, and yet so pretty.  Right down to that charm bracelet. 

Another nice Fall weekend.  We spent the weekend at home, ticking things off our home to-do list.  Little and somewhat boring items, and yet it feels good to have them complete.  Tulip and crocus bulbs planted, new door hinges hung, light dimmer switch replaced, tickets for the Boston Pops holiday concert purchased, birthday package mailed, shutter caps placed and screens put back in, yard raked, phone fixed (finally!), big donations pick-up scheduled, closet cleaned (with items added to donations boxes)...  Wow - now that I list all these things out, we got a lot done! 

We managed to have some fun with the boys too.  Lots of outside playtime.  The big boy is having lots of fun on his balance bike.  He is so proud to be able to go down the entire driveway without touching his feet to the ground.  He is counting down the days until Halloween, and he continues to stomp around the house in his cowboy boots for practice.  I'm looking forward to it myself!  

Here's to a fabulous week!

And for your viewing pleasure, a few more images inspired by yellow...

October 22, 2010

Tina Dico

This week's pick comes from Denmark:  Tina Dico.  Her sound is hard to summarize.  Some songs remind me of old Joni Mitchell, others have beautiful vocal harmonies that have a bluegrass/country feel, others have soul or R&B rhythms, others sound like radio-friendly pop songs.  I'm just getting to know her via last year's album, The Road to Gavle.  She has a strong voice and interesting lyrics, and I'm enjoying her music.

October 21, 2010

Things I've Learned

More things I've learned.  If you want to see some of the other items on my list, go here.

1.  Plan for a re-entry day at the end of your vacations so you have a day at home before you have to head back to work.  Time to do laundry, get back on your normal schedules, put food in the fridge, etc.
2.  Coming home to a tidy house is much more pleasant than the alternative.  Put things away when you're done with them.  Hang your coat in the closet and not over the back of a chair.
3.  Always wear sunscreen.  Spending so many of my younger days on the beach without anything on taught me this well.  Now if I could just get my husband to learn this as well, but then I guess he has me to slather him up.
4. It's nice to look people in the eye.  Have you ever noticed how many of us go through the checkout lines or take a ticket without ever even looking up?  Look up.  Smile.  You'll probably get a smile in return, and it's nice to inject more niceness into your day.
5.  Keep all your important papers (birth certificates, car titles, insurance papers...) in a firesafe lockbox.  You never know.
6.  Which reminds me....back up your computer regularly and keep the backup drive in your firesafe lockbox. too.  Think about everything you have on your computer right now (pictures, music...) - wouldn't it suck to lose it all?
7.  Raising my voice to my son only makes things worse.  It never helps.
8.  It's awesome to be debt-free.  I remember my dad always telling me that you shouldn't buy anything you can't pay for.  If you can't buy it right now, save up for it until you can.  He even bought his cars outright.  Smart man.
9.  It's good to spend time by yourself.  That's the time when you learn how you really feel about things.  It's also okay to do things like eat in a restaurant or see a movie by yourself.
10.  Don't waste your time looking for the closest parking spot.  Park in the first spot you see and walk.

October 20, 2010

Random Thoughts...

Style.  I don't have it, but I do know it when I see it.  I am jealous of people who are able to put together a fashionable outfit.  People who are able to do it without spending a fortune are particularly talented.  I think it's just as much of a talent as decorating a room, telling a story, or pursuing other creative outlets.  I hate shopping, and I wouldn't know where to start even if I liked it.  Can somebody just go shopping for me and dress me up so I look pretty?  I love the picture below and think she sums up my style pretty well - simple, classic, practical.  She looks like she'd do just fine in a Boston winter.
I went to hear our current Governor speak earlier this week.  I've read the election literature we received in the mail.  I even went online and read about the issues included in the upcoming election.  I feel prepared, which feels good.  Makes me feel like a grown-up.  
via etsy
Why is it so hard to find the perfect pair of boots?  I think they are like coats - you can never have too many.  I decided to go with a trend and got a pair of booties, and they are great.  I'm still searching for that perfect pair, though.
We finally got that nice white duvet for our bed.  It is so cozy, and I adore crawling into bed more than ever.  Next on the list is to find a couple more prints or pictures to display in a collage above our headboard.  The process of making a house a home is never finished...
I normally get annoyed when I see the Christmas items hit the stores before Halloween - too soon!  And yet, this year for some reason it doesn't seem to bother me.  I'm having fun raking and jumping in leaf piles, and I'm excited to go trick-or-treating with the big boy; but I'm also trying to put together our holiday cards and thinking about holiday menus and sleeping arrangements.  Anticipation is fun, so I'm okay with having it last a little longer.  

October 18, 2010

Weekend Recap

How was your weekend?  Ours was good, although I have my first cold of the season.  I think the most annoying symptom of a cold is losing my sense of taste.  How miserable to be hungry but not to be able to taste.  Bleh.

As I said, though, the weekend was good.  Mostly just hanging at home, enjoying the beautiful Fall weather.  Raking and jumping in leaf piles.  Doing somersaults.  My husband and I also made it out for a date Saturday night.  Our neighbor/babysitter has a much more predictable schedule during the school year, and this is working to our benefit, as we're able to get more nights out. 
We went to see The Social Network.  Have you seen it yet?  What did you think?  To be honest, I really didn't have any interest in seeing it, but there weren't too many options out right now.  I'm glad though, because I actually really enjoyed it.  It was really well done, and the acting was all very good.  I'm sure it was more fiction than truth, but that's okay - I'm sure it was more entertaining than the absolute truth would have been.

I'm determined to have a really productive week.  I'm making my to-do list and checking things off.  This includes work items, but also personal items such as picking out our holiday cards, buying a few winter essentials for the boys, and adding more of the little guy to the photo collage by our stairs.  Here's hoping we all have a productive week!

October 15, 2010

Words That Don't Exist in the English Language

Saw this via emma c's tumblr and thought it was very cool.  Some great words here.  English seems so lacking sometimes, doesn't it?

Sarah Harmer - Captive

This week's music pick is Sarah Harmer.  She's a Canadian folk singer who is tremendous fun to sing along with.  I love her latest album, which came out in June and was her first in several years.  My favorite song is a duet with Neko Case entitled Silverado.  The video above is a live performance of a song called "Captive".  I find that the artists I am most drawn to are those that can perform like this - completely stripped down to themselves and their instrument - and still sound amazing.

October 14, 2010

October 13, 2010

So Much Beauty...

I love my Three Beautiful Things posts.  It's fun to look around at all the beauty in this world, and it helps to be reminded to do so.  I will admit that there are weeks when I actually struggle to come up with those three things, but of course those are exactly the weeks when it's most useful.  Lately, I think mostly because of this glorious weather, it seems to be extraordinarily easy.  So let's go beyond three this week.  A few beautiful things...

Leaves.  The other day, the big boy asked me why leaves change colors.  His questions are getting harder every day.  I hope it got it right.

Delphinium.  It was the primary flower at our wedding.  I just adore that purplish-blue.

Dark Seasonal Beers.  Pumpkin Ales, Octoberfest Varieties, Porters, Stouts...
Birthday Parties.  I've decided to throw the big boy his first real birthday party.  We'll be inviting just a handful of his friends along with some family over to the house.  I am not much of a hostess or party-planner, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I can do it without letting it stress me out.  I'm determined to keep it simple.  He's only turning four, after all.  So far, I'm having lots of fun thinking about it.  When I pressed him for input on colors or theme or cake, his reply to every question was:  "rainbow".  So a rainbow-themed party it shall be!  Can't wait!
Real mail.  You know, the kind that comes in your actual mailbox, as opposed to your email inbox or facebook page?  There's nothing like seeing an unexpected package outside your front door.  I need to write more letters, send more packages.  The feeling goes both ways - it may be even more fun to send than it is to receive.

Italy.  I think we've chosen a new vacation destination for next summer:  Florence.   At least, that's where our current thinking is.  Now let the search begin for the perfect place to stay so I can start planning details! 
Azure Ray.  Azure Ray has a new album out, and it's gorgeous as always.  Perfect music to put on while you're taking a bath.  
Oh, and speaking of...bathtubs are beautiful too.  I need to spend more time in mine, but I did manage to take a bath last week, and it was divine.

October 12, 2010

Menu of the Week

images via Martha and Cooking Light

Here's a bit of what I've been cooking lately...

Pork Tenderloin, Green Beans, Mashed Potatoes

Turkey Reuben Sandwiches, Carrot Sticks/Cherry Tomatoes

Corn and Butternut Squash Chowder - Very good vegetarian recipe, and a great choice for a Fall menu.

Spinach Lasagna - I like this recipe.  It uses a blend of cottage cheese, sour cream, and cream cheese instead of the usual ricotta for the filling.  It may sound a little strange, but it makes the lasagna a little lighter, and it brings out the other flavors a bit better, in my opinion.  Unfortunately, my 3-year-old is not yet a fan.  Thankfully, though, my 1-year-old loves it.  He seriously ate more than I did!  That kid is nonstop.

October 11, 2010

Weekend Recap

We had a great weekend.  A friend paid us a visit on Saturday, bringing along his two little girls.  We all ventured up to the farm for playing, apple-picking, and a camel ride.  I know, I know, I thought the same thing.  A camel ride?  On a farm in New England?  Well, what can I say?  The line for the ponies was too long, so we opted for the camels.  The big guy looked a little apprehensive about climbing on board, but he really wanted to do it, so he stepped up and had fun.  The look on his face was priceless.  Apple-picking was fun as always, and my favorite variety (Jonagold) was finally ripe, so we picked a bunch.  The rest of the day was lots of the usual outside playtime - swings, slides, bikes...

Sunday was another picture-perfect day.  We had a morning playdate with friends - another family with two little boys.  So fun to be able to sit in the sunshine and watch the boys run around and be boys.  Crash into dirt, race each other, ignore each other, hit balls with hockey sticks...  The afternoon was decidedly more low-key.  The big boy and I got our aprons on, and he helped me make an apple pie.  That was followed by more outside playtime while K put the rest of the new shutters on the house.  They look great! It always feels so good when little house projects are completed.

This week will feel short, and I'm looking forward to enjoying more gorgeous weather before the cold sets in.  Have a great week!

October 8, 2010


via ...etc

I started writing a post the other day about how unmotivated I am at work right now.  I then started feeling worse about things, and I realized that not only does nobody want to read about my woes, but it doesn't even make me feel better to vent like that.  There's a reason why I stick to the positives on my blog, and it's not because I want everybody to think my life is perfect.  It's that I've found that by doing so, I feel this push to find the positives.  They are there, in every situation.
By adjusting my thinking, I'm able to focus on the positives regarding my job too.  I am lucky to have a job.  That's a rather pitiful thing to say, because obviously we all wish we had jobs we were passionate about; but in this economy, and particularly in my line of business, it's not an insignificant thing to say.  I'm also extremely grateful for the amount of flexibility I have.  I arrive at work late most days, and I leave early every day in order to pick up my boys.  I work from home a couple times a week, which saves me time by eliminating the commute and also allows me to keep up with things like laundry.  I am generally the one who stays home with the boys when they are sick or when they have doctor appointments.  If I didn't have a job where I could do all these things, I'm certain it would be impossible for me to attempt this balancing act.

I found myself thinking of the movie 'City Slickers'.  I completely identify with Billy Crystal's character, Mitch, although he didn't have the work/life balance issues of a mother.  He did have a job that didn't inspire him, and he came back from his trip saying that he wasn't going to quit, he was just going to do it better.  Well, I can't go on a cattle roundup for inspiration, and I don't even need to.  I know what I need to do.  I need to do my job well, and I need to make sure I spend a few minutes every week ensuring that I'm spending my time on the things that are most important to me.  As long as I can do that, I know I'll be fine.

Frank Turner - The Road

This week's music pick comes from my Irish brother-in-law (thanks David!).  Frank Turner is a folk/punk singer-songwriter.  Folk/punk?  Yep - that's not a typo.  Give him a listen and you'll see what I mean.  A folk singer who still has a punk rocker inside.  Lots of fun to turn up really loud and sing.
via last.fm 

October 7, 2010

Kitchen Inspiration

Oh, to have this much space in our kitchen!  The windows!  A full seating area!  Those awesome wide plank wood floors!  I won't be able to match the space in our future kitchen, but I can still be inspired by the details.  Many of the details we already know we want - white cabinets, soapstone countertops, wood floor, stainless appliances, farmhouse sink...  And other details to consider, like the faucet, lighting, etc.  It is fun to dream and plan.

October 5, 2010

Recently Read - The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet

I finally finished it.  The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, by David Mitchell.  I took my time, which is what you have to do to truly appreciate a David Mitchell novel.  They are not fast reads.  For the first 150-200 pages, I found myself just trying to keep up.  He writes such vivid details, and I wanted to be able to picture everything, so I'd re-read sections to fully form the image in my head.  I also had to keep up with all the characters, which I find difficult when the names are difficult.  Since the characters are primarily Dutch or Japanese, this was definitely the case.

Once I got there, though, with a detailed image in my head of this place and these characters, I was hooked.  I literally didn't want to put it down.  It's so different from anything else I've read, and it's intriguing.  I was fascinated and couldn't wait to see where it went.  I felt the same way about Cloud Atlas, although that's the only comparison you could make between the two books.  They are extremely different, but both tremendously good. 

If you want to read more about it, here's the NY Times review.

October 4, 2010

Weekend Recap - Vermont

Ahhh.  What a beautiful, wonderful weekend.  Thanks again to my mom for making it possible.  Enjoy a  taste of our experience via a few pictures and a five senses post:

- Gorgeous foliage.  Still a little before peak, but as we drove south back home, we could watch the colors change from reds and oranges back to yellows and greens.  So lovely.
- A moose!  I had never seen a moose before, and there one was, just happily trotting through a B&B parking lot, on its way back out to the woods.  Beautiful creature, and enormous!  My gosh it was huge.  Very cool to see. 
- My husband in a robe at the spa, so happy he wasn't the only man there.  (We splurged on massages, and it was worth every penny!)
- Lots of little kids, reminding me of my own back at home.  But I knew they were having fun with their "mema", and we were having fun being on our own.
- Rustling leaves under our feet
- A comfy armchair we picked up at a yard sale.  We'd been looking for one for a while now, and it's so fun to find a good one at a bargain price
- Super fun old-school toys at the Vermont country store.  We are almost done Christmas shopping. 
- There's not much better than the smell of lit fireplaces and fallen leaves
- All the wonderful smells coming from the food tents at the Craft Fair.  Every type you can imagine.
- Otter Creek Copper Ale
- Cider doughnuts
- Coffee brownie ice cream
- A roasted artichoke sandwich.  Veggie burrito.  Everything is fresh and local.  The cheese in particular stood out.


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