November 30, 2010

Photos of the Day and a New Tradition

Take a look at our new Thanksgiving tradition - the soup can turkey.  I went on our holiday trip armed with little activities and diversions in an effort to keep the big boy engaged.  One of the things we did was this soup can turkey, and I am pretty confident it will be an annual tradition from now on.  We had a great time making him, and he looked so cute as our table centerpiece.  He didn't want us to give the turkey a name, so he was simply called "turkey".  Fine by me. 
The little boy kept himself entertained.  He received this stuffed Cookie Monster as a gift, and it hasn't stopped cracking him up yet.  When we got home and were busy unpacking and settling back in, he played on the dining room floor for about an hour.  I guess the boy doesn't need more than a bag of cars and trains. 

November 29, 2010

Holiday Recap

Well, the leftovers are almost gone, the tree is up, and the Christmas music is in heavy rotation.  The holiday season has officially begun.  We spent a few nice days at my mother-in-law's house.  It was quieter than usual, but that's okay.  The first night, I was in bed at 8:45.  Thanksgiving night, it was 9:30.  The little boy was in the room with us, so it wasn't entirely restful, but still....I can't complain about the amount of time I got to spend in bed.  We came home on Saturday, which we've learned is definitely the way to go.  We then had that evening to get unpacked and Sunday to enjoy relaxing and decorating the house. 
The first thing the big boy said this morning was "Mom, I want my bag."  Forgetting that they are called stockings, he just knew that they'd be full of presents.  He was a little disappointed to learn that he has to wait a few more weeks.  Especially with his birthday in-between now and then, I think he'll survive.

Here are a few other things I learned this holiday weekend:
- Pumpkin Cream Pie is better than Chocolate Mascarpone Cheesecake Pots. (Woohoo!  We won Bake-off 2010!)  The gingersnap crust is what won it for us.  Delicious.  Since cream pies have won the last three years, I'm thinking next year we'll have to enforce a "no cream pie" rule, though. 
- The big boy is a fan of back massagers.  When we got home, he informed me that he liked Grandma's house better than ours.  When I asked why, he said, "because of the remote control chair".  I'm a fan too, truth be told.
- The little boy is a terror around a Christmas tree.  Fingers crossed that he loses interest soon, but so far he really loves taking whacks at it and throwing ornaments across the room.
- Baked French Toast is awesome.  So easy to pull together the night before, and then whoever gets up first just needs to throw it in the oven.  Once everybody is up and hungry, it's ready!  And nobody has to stand in front of the stove.  It's definitely a rich special-occasion dish but one I will gladly eat.  Those candied pecans! 
- It's good to give thanks.  Thanksgiving is such a lovely holiday.  I try to focus every day on the things in my life for which I am grateful, but how nice to have a whole holiday dedicated to just that.  I tried to remind my almost 4-year-old of it as well.  Every now and then I'd tell him something I'm grateful for and ask him what things would be on his list.  I got responses everywhere from "You and Daddy" to "glitter glue" and "my balance bike". 
via etsy

It's getting colder, and snow is in the forecast for the first time this year.  Maybe we'll get some early next week.  I will hate it in March, but for now I say "let it snow! let it snow! let it snow!".  I'll try to stay this cute all bundled up...

November 25, 2010

I'm Thankful For...

I'm thankful for so much.  What's on your list?  

- My boys.  The one who surprises me with flowers every now and then and is willing to warm up my side of the bed before I get in.  The one who loves to give me lots of big running hugs and giggles like crazy.  And the one who still (almost) fits on my chest and smiles a silly seven-tooth grin.  
- Family.  I'm so lucky to have such amazing people in my life.  
- Friends.  Near and far.  This includes the ones I haven't even met.  
- Good food.  Cheese and olives and figs.  Leftover turkey sandwiches.  Oh, I could go on and on...
- Music.  All different kinds.  It feeds my soul.
- My fireplace.  It's little and gas, and I do long for the smell of a wood-burning fireplace, but this little fireplace makes our living room amazingly cozy.  I love it.  
- Hot showers.  
- Facebook. A little weird?  Perhaps.  But I am thankful that it allows me to connect with my friends and family just a little easier.  To see pictures of kids growing up throughout the year and not just on a holiday card.  
- Good books, and the people that write them.  
- The ocean.  I love that I get to see it every day.  The smell of the sea air makes me happy.
- Vacation plans.  Yes, it's true - Italy is close to becoming a reality.  Next August! There's nothing like having a fun trip to look forward to.
- Living in a place I love.  Boston may be cold, but that just means there's a decent chance of a white Christmas.  It's home.

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 24, 2010

Pins of the Week

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

*Balloons - This is a pretty picture, and it reminds me of the book I recently finished reading - Enduring Love, by Ian McEwan.  The writing is so good and so intense - it grabs you and doesn't let go.  
*Silver Facet Earrings - These are an example of what I need more of in my little jewelry box.  Simple, classic items that I could wear every day.  K, if you're reading this, you could pick these up now and be prepared well in advance of my birthday.  Hint hint.  
*Ellen Page - Isn't she so cute?  
*Pumpkin Cream Pie - I feel a bit lazy with this year's bake-off entry.  I'm making this pumpkin cream pie.  It does look yummy, though, doesn't it?  I'll let you know how it goes.  

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

I also just pinned this one, which reminds me that although I'm not feeling great, perhaps what I need is to spend some time on the couch with a cup of tea and a book.  Here I go...

November 23, 2010

Bedroom Inspiration

Sometimes it's just fun to look at pretty rooms, isn't it?  I have quite a collection growing on my pinterest boards, so I thought I'd share a few beautiful bedrooms.  

This one is my favorite.  I love everything about it...

I just love dark hardwood floors.  I normally don't like cool colors like this pale blue in bedrooms, but somehow the dark floors and orange pillows balance it out, so it still manages to feel cozy.  

I wish I had tall ceilings so I could have a chandelier over my bed...

This is the kind of warm cozy I like to feel in a bedroom, although I think perhaps too many plants for my taste.  Do you like plants in your bedroom?  

November 22, 2010

The Holiday Season

via etsy

What do you look forward to most about the holidays?

It seems like so many people get stressed out this time of year.  It is a busy time, to be sure, but it's such a beautiful time as well.  I wish more people could just focus on the beauty and let go of the unnecessary stress.  I guess I should just consider myself fortunate.  I love everything about the holiday season, and I am one of the lucky ones that actually enjoys spending time with my family.  I was even lucky enough to marry into a wonderful family as well, so I have good times on both sides. 

Sometimes I do need to remind myself to focus on the things that make me happy.  For example, I decided not to send cards last year.  With a new baby and just starting back at work, I simply didn't have the energy for it.  I missed doing it, because I love exchanging cards with friends and family, so I'm excited to do it again this year, but it was the right decision at that time.  It's taken me a while, but I've realized that you have to prioritize and recognize that sometimes you just can't do it all.

When I think about the things I want to do as a family this holiday season, these are the things that come to mind:

- Make a paper chain for the Christmas tree with the big boy
- Watch A Charlie Brown Christmas while we decorate the tree (with colored lights!)
- Bake something yummy to bring to the neighbors
- Send holiday cards
- Cut paper snowflakes with the big boy to decorate the house
- Attend the Holiday Pops concert at Symphony Hall.  (This has been a tradition for me and K for years, but this will be our first year for the big boy, and I'm so excited to extend the tradition.)
- Purchase gifts for a child living in poverty
- Celebrate St. Nicholas' Day (Dec. 6th).  (With my son's birthday and Christmas falling in the same month, we have no shortage of celebrations and gifts, and yet I refuse to give this one up.  When I was a kid, I always loved running down to see what St. Nicholas left in my shoes, and I want my boys to remember it too.)
- Watch "It's a Wonderful Life" and cry at the end like I always do
- Drink egg nog.  (I really want to try making a homemade version at some point - do any of you have a good recipe you love?  In the meantime, we'll enjoy it from the store, with a little fresh nutmeg sprinkled on top.  I will drink little tastes while attempting to limit it for my boys - all three of them!)
- Bug my family by insisting we open "just one present!" on Christmas Eve.  (I always ask, they always say's tradition.)
- Enjoy chocolate fondue on New Year's Eve and chocolate chip pancakes on New Year's morning (for a non-chocolate person, I sure do love it sometimes!)

What's on your list?  What do you enjoy most about this time of year?  Do you let it stress you out or are you able to fully enjoy it?

November 19, 2010

The Raconteurs - Old Enough

This week's music pick is perhaps a little different for me.  I'm not a huge White Stripes fan or anything, but I can recognize that Jack White is unique and refreshing and so talented.  I was pointed towards this album - Consolers of the Lonely, by The Raconteurs - and I'm intrigued.  I have no idea how to describe it, because every song is completely different.  The Raconteurs is a band formed by Jack White, and a singer-songwriter named Brendan Benson.  I think this one is going to be in heavy rotation for a while.  (At least, when the big boy isn't in the car.  He's decided that his current favorite is Spoon's Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga.  I've listened to Rhthm and Soul about 85 times this week.  I'm not complaining.)

November 18, 2010

Pins of the Week

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

*Neck - My sister told me the other night that I should wear more clothes that display my neck and collarbone, even shoulders.  I guess I tend to go for the warmer options - living in Boston, you can hardly blame me - but I'll keep this in mind the next time I'm on the lookout for something new.
*Brilliant and Amazing - Isn't this awesome?  There's nothing wrong with having confidence.  
*Slippers - How cute are these?  Slippers are on my wish list, and although these are definitely more expensive than your typical slippers, I'd wear them every day!  
*Holiday Lights - I'm starting to see them, and I can't wait for the houses, stores, and street explode with light over the coming weeks.  The boys get so excited by them too.  I know I've asked this before, but are you a white lights or colored lights person?  I prefer colored lights, but my husband loves white.  To date, we've had to compromise by alternating years.  This year is supposed to be a white lights year, but my almost 4-year-old has informed him that we'll be having colored lights.  "I know you like white lights Daddy, but we're having colored lights."  I didn't even put him up to it!

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

November 17, 2010

Snuggles, Chocolate, and Winter

This week's Three Beautiful Things:

1.  Snuggles.  My little boy is sick, which of course is not a beautiful thing, but I'm loving the time to cuddle with him on my chest.  He's almost too big for it...but not quite.

2.  Chocolate.  Leftover Halloween candy, to be specific.  There's still a stash of miniature chocolate bars on the top shelf of my fridge.  I do love being able to grab a little sweet whenever I want.

3.  The smell of Winter.  My big boy walked outside the other day and declared, "Mom, it smells like Winter!"  He was right.  The smell of frost.  Winter is almost here, and with the holidays upon us, I'll be ready for it.

November 16, 2010

Kitchen Inspiration

via frolic

This one doesn't have anything to do with planning for our own future kitchen - I just love it.  I love the red, the big sink, the table, the vegetables all waiting to be washed...all of it.

November 14, 2010

At This Moment... is 8 o'clock at night, and the boys are asleep.  I have always had an appreciation for silence, but I absolutely crave it now. holiday wish list continues to grow.  My family and I don't even really buy a lot for each other.  Especially since my family has to travel a long distance via airplane, we generally keep it small, filling our stockings and that's about it.  And yet I can't stop adding to the list!  There's nothing wrong with wishing, right?  The latest additions?  The cookbook from the Flour bakery here in Boston just made the list.  It's one of the best bakeries ever, and the book looks divine.  Also I could really use a new address book...
...I'm exhausted.  It was another weekend alone with the boys, and the little one is sick.  We managed to have quite a bit of fun, but I'm beyond pooped.
...the house still smells like the pumpkin-cranberry muffins the big boy and I made this afternoon.  A great diversion, and so nice to have an easy and yummy breakfast ready for the next few days!
...There is a pile of stuff on my dining room table.  It drives me crazy to have things piled up in that room, which is central to the house, and yet I can't bring myself to clean it up tonight.
...I'm going to pack lunches and get ready for the week.  I'm a little nervous that I might end up at home tomorrow with a feverish little boy, but better to be prepared either way.  Fingers crossed...
...I thought I'd leave you with a little loveliness to start your week.  Enjoy...

November 12, 2010

Joe Purdy - Troubadour

This week's music pick is Joe Purdy.  He's a folk singer-songwriter from Arkansas.  A few of his songs have been on TV shows (Lost, Grey's Anatomy), but otherwise you may not have heard of him.  Simple songs, mostly just a guy and his guitar.

November 11, 2010

Pins of the Week

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

*Michelle Obama - Love this beautiful picture of our stunning first lady.
*Cool shirt - It may not be substantial enough for New England winter, but looks pretty for New England fall or spring.  
*Heels - Since I'm trying to wear more dresses now, I also need more shoes.  Heels, to be specific.  How cool are these?  I love the substantial heel and the cute little flower on the front.  
*This is what I would do all day if I could - Just a fun picture, reminding me that it's nice to read during the day too and not just at bedtime.  
*Sweater - This one does look warm enough for the New England winter.  Another holiday wish-list item.  (My list is getting a bit long, I'm afraid.)
*Cranberry Almond and Cinnamon Tart - Trying to select desserts for the upcoming holidays, including a bake-off entry.  (I compete with my sister-in-law each year for the best dessert - just a little friendly family competition that adds a little fun.)  This one looks so pretty, and I like to steer clear of chocolate at Thanksgiving.

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

November 10, 2010

I'm Such a Sap...

Seriously.  I cry at anything.  I mean, in addition to the obvious sad situations, I cry at the happy stuff too.

- The Folger's (is it Folger's?) commercial when the son/brother surprises his family on Christmas morning.  It's at least 20 years old and it still makes me tear up.
- The end of When Harry Met Sally, when Harry confronts Sally at the New Year's Eve party.
- Little kids singing patriotic songs.  "And I'm proud to be an American..."
- The scene in Sense and Sensibility when Hugh Grant's character proposes to Emma Thompson.  Buckets of tears.  Every single time.
- Little kids hugging and helping each other.  Is there anything sweeter?
- The end of It's a Wonderful Life for sure.

I'm sure I could come up with a hundred more examples, especially movies and TV shows.  I smile so big I can't help but cry.  The video above is a T-mobile ad.  Cracks me up at the end when the T-mobile comes up.  And yet, I still had tears on my cheeks when it did.  Check it out - it's sure to at least make you smile.  Hopefully not cry, unless you're a total sap like me.

Kitchen Inspiration

Are you guys sick of all the kitchens yet?  Well too bad, because I can't stop looking at them.  It's just so much better than looking at my own.  I like how these windows push open.  I wish we had this much space.  My sister asked me the other day if I was really sure I wanted a white kitchen - she's envisioning the messy cabinets and my two little boys carrying around crayons.  It's a fair point, but the kitchens that grab me, like this one, are white.  So yes, that much is decided.  

November 9, 2010

Girlfriends, Dresses, and Me-Time

No, this isn't the dress I wore, but isn't it pretty?  And those shoes...  via pretty stuff

This week's Three Beautiful Things:

1.  There is such pleasure in talking to other women who lead similar lifestyles.  In other words, other busy mothers.  I've found that I don't even feel the need to talk about the things that make me crazy, because they already just get it.  This gives us the freedom to talk about the fun stuff of life. 

2.  I've found that I do like getting dressed up sometimes.  I get so many compliments when I wear dresses, partly I think because I don't do it enough.  I also learned that I really didn't have any clothes appropriate for going to a nice restaurant.  I needed dresses.  So I bought a few.  And I love them.  I wore one this week and felt so pretty.

3. Being alone.  The husband is out of town, so I'm trying to appreciate the positives.  I do enjoy my own company.  Time to reflect, do some yoga, play my guitar, read...all before the boys wake up or after they are in bed of course.

November 8, 2010

Things I Love...

...about my little sister.

I wrote this over a week ago and meant to post it on her birthday.  Whoops.  At least I remembered to call.  So for apparently no reason, here are some of the things I love about my little sister.

- She's weird.  Unique.  Silly.  Random.  And she's always embraced this part of herself.
- She keeps alive silly things we did or said when we were little.  Inside jokes such as "lovely, thank you". 
- She has an amazing memory.  She can remember specific scenes from our childhood with such clarity that she can cite what everyone was wearing. 
- She rearranges her rooms all the time.  And when she enters a room in your house, you must know she is thinking about how she would rearrange it.  It's best just to give in and let her have her way.  She is usually right.
- She is a glass always-full person and rarely seems down about anything. 
- She has a great group of friends, including some she's had since elementary school.
- We like a lot of the same music, and she likes finding and sharing new music with me. 
- We both play the guitar a little, and she shares easy guitar music with me.
- She has a ridiculously cute little girl and a great husband who fit into the family immediately.
- She is always working, and she's still in school (on her way to a PhD).  I am not sure she knows what life is like with just a single, normal job. 
- She has gorgeous, thick, blonde hair.
- She is an environmentalist and activist and vegetarian, but she is not judgmental about those who aren't these things.
- She has become a good gardener, knowing the names of all the plants and flowers in her yard.
- This list, of course, could go on and on and on...

November 5, 2010

The Open Sea - Little Apple

This week's music pick is The Open Sea, a collaboration between Ari Hest and Rosi Golan, two impressive singer-songwriters on their own.  I think their combination is magic, though.  I am a big fan of harmony.  They just released a short EP - only 5 songs, but they're lovely.

November 4, 2010

Pins of the Week

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

*Emma Watson - She's certainly grown into a beautiful woman.  In preparation for the next Harry Potter movie, I watched the Half-Blood Prince.  I'm going to re-read The Deathly Hallows before seeing the movie.  This series has been such fun for so long - it will really feel strange when it's all over.  I am looking forward to sharing the books with my boys once they're old enough to appreciate them.  
*Perfect print for my bedroom - I'm collecting a few prints and pictures to hang above our bed.  I love this one.  Perfectly captures how much K and I adore our bed.  *Note to family:  This is going on the holiday wish-list. 
*Cute mittens - How cute are these?  Mittens are so much warmer than gloves, and these are so cheerful.  *These are going on the holiday wish-list too!
*Crochet octopus ornament - I love Christmas ornaments that have nothing to do with Christmas.  For example, we have a bright green pickle that makes me smile every time I pull it out of the box to hang on the tree.  This octopus is pretty darn cute too.  Mom, you could probably make something like this, right?
*Twinkle, Twinkle - I love most of the photographs by Abby Try Again.  This one is dreamy.
*Love this bedroom - Window seats are fabulous.  In my dream house, there is at least one large one, and it gets a lot of sun.  Like this one.

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

November 3, 2010

Long-Distance Love

How fun is this amazing wedding invitation?  It made me nostalgic, thinking about the early days of my relationship with Kevin.  We met at work.  At the time, I lived in Charlotte, he lived in Atlanta, and we met in St. Louis.  

Quick story:  The first time we met was a Monday morning.  A Monday morning when I had to get up at 4AM to catch a flight to St. Louis, and my flight was delayed.  I was already off caffeine by then.  Needless to say, I was crabby.  When I arrived at the office, there was someone sitting at my desk.  Sigh.  Just one more thing.  So I walked up to him and said, "You're sitting in my seat."  No "hi", "hello", or "are you new?"...I was too crabby for that.  He looked up, quickly gathered his things, and left.  Needless to say, it was not love at first sight.  

A few years later, I was living in Boston, he was in San Francisco.  We still worked together, and we got along okay.  He thought I was intimidating.  Thanks to some gentle nudging by a mutual friend, I decided to give it a shot.  I called him.  Shocked him a bit with that first phone call I think.  

Another quick story:  We met for drinks after work.  I remember so much of that conversation so clearly.  I recall him talking about his family, his relationships with his parents and sisters, and I thought "Yes, he could be the one".  Then he didn't kiss me or even hug me at the end of the night, and I thought, "Hm.  Really?"  (To this day, he is still proud of the fact that he didn't kiss me, while I contend that a little peck would've been nice.  Some show of affection.  Are you a kisser on first dates, or do you like to make them wait?)  Well, although he didn't kiss me that night, he did call me the next day, and the dates secret for a while.  He did eventually kiss me.  

And then he and I became we.  But as I said, I lived in Boston, he in San Francisco.  We traveled back and forth - generally every other week - for a year.  When you know this is it, doing the long-distance thing can work.  Finally he took a new job and moved to Boston.  The next year we got engaged.  

November 2, 2010

Menu of the Week

via closet cooking - a great food blog!

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

Butternut Squash Carbonara, Salad
It's fun finding new recipes via blogs.  I stumbled across this one and happened to have most of the ingredients already on hand.  I added bacon to last week's grocery list and decided to give this one a try.  It's yum.  I personally think you could scale back the bacon and increase the squash, but my husband disagreed and said it was perfect as written.  Both boys chowed as well.  Since I used prechopped frozen squash, it was super easy to pull together too. 

Turkey Mini Meat Loaves, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans

Chicken Scallopini, Broccoli, Rice

Turkey and Cheese Paninis, Sliced Veggies and Dip

Chocolate Chip Cookies - Straight from the back of the chocolate chip bag, I made the original Tollhouse cookie.  And man are they tasty.  I don't make these very often, but there's a reason they are a classic.

November 1, 2010

Weekend Recap - Halloween Edition

Another productive weekend.  We raked the yard, yet again, and got it into pretty good shape in preparation for Kevin being out of town the next couple weekends.  (Booooo...)  Kevin fixed a couple gates that had been in need of repair for a while.  We ran some errands and got the boys haircuts.  The little guy got his first cut, and although he looked pretty pitiful and came close to crying, he never did.  My brave handsome boy.  We all went out to lunch, which was fun.  Kevin and I commented that it's getting easier.  Not easy yet, but easier.  I can see the day when we can head into a restaurant, skip the highchairs, and have an actual conversation as a family.  It's not too far away. 

Sunday morning, I made everyone clean themselves up a bit so we could try to take family pictures.  Our neighbor came over and did her best to capture our smiling faces.  Three out of four isn't bad.  For those of you that receive our holiday card, please know that the little guy is a smiley little dude all the time - except when someone's pointing a camera at him.  How good do I feel for getting our holiday cards ordered already?!?  Oh I am so on the ball this year! 

Halloween is fun with little kids.  I've never really been huge into Halloween - I hate the pressure of coming up with creative costumes.  That said, I did adore it when I was little.  My favorite costume was a ballerina outfit that I would've been perfectly happy to wear every day.  It was blue with multi-colored sequins.  I wore it a couple years in a row, until I absolutely could not wear it any longer.  We lived in New York at the time, and one year it was so cold that I had to wear a heavy winter coat on over it, and I distinctly remember how pissed I was at having to keep it covered up.  Funny the things we hold on to from our childhood. 

I hope the big boy remembers this Halloween.  He made a dashing cowboy.  The best part of the outfit was the pair of boots.  They were adorable, brown with Woody and Buzz Lightyear, and they lit up when he walked.  He loved strutting his stuff in those boots, and every single house we visited commented on them.  He proudly stomped his feet to show them off. 

We had an extra hat and bandana, so the little guy joined in the fun for a bit...

He was so excited to get home and count his loot.  He was also perfectly satisfied to stop at two pieces of candy, and he shared with us too!  He was even a little bummed that the little guy couldn't have some.

One mini bag of M&Ms and one Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, and he was literally bouncing off the sugar high...


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